Wednesday, 15th April: Smurfit Kappa were the latest to ditch their dividend as they announced on Wednesday they will not be paying the 80.9 euro cent final dividend which was originally reported in February and would have pushed the total 2019 pay-out 21% higher in comparison to the 2018 dividend. The news sent the group 1.9% lower on the blue-chip index in the morning.
As well as Smurfit Kappa, Ferguson were also adding to the list of blue-chip companies withdrawing from paying dividends, resulting in a third of the index abandoning the payment.
Declines in oil prices pushed the FTSE 100 down more than 2.0% by midday on Wednesday, as all but a handful of the constituents were trading in negative territory. Ocado was the only noticeable gainer, up almost 4.0, followed by Flutter Entertainment and Sainsbury who were up 1.4% and 1.1% respectively. At the same time the FTSE 250 was down more than 4.0% and Brent crude was down more than 6.0% at $27.72 per barrel.
Sterling dropped drastically after midday by more than 1.0% to $1.2462, as Wall Street opened in red with the Dow Jones, S&P 500 and Nasdaq down 2.8%, 2.7% and 2.0% respectively at around 15:37 (BST), as retail data for March was described as “horrendous”. The clothing sector suffered the most with sales down 50%, whilst food services and the automotive sectors were down 26% and 25% respectively.
At the end of the day, the FTSE 100 was more than 3.0% lower at 5598, levels which had last been seen in the summer of 2012.