A small uptick for the FTSE 100 on Thursday: the Big Board ended 15 points higher at 7,248.10, up 0.2% with the FTSE 250 finishing 2.58 points down at 19,680. Travel fared well with British Airways owner IAG and TUI AG up 2.97% and 2.92% respectively.
HSBC Holdings shares pushed 2.87% higher to 663.70p despite a 19% fall in profits for the first three months of 2017. However HSBC’s profit fall was within predicted limits.
Following its gloom-ridden trading figures earlier in the day Next was the biggest FTSE 100 faller, down 5.15% at 4183p. Since autumn 2015 Next has seen its share price sink by close to 50%. The retailer has been hit hard by the pound's plunge, pushing up material costs, plus extreme competition pressure.
EU-Brexit tensions remained volatile and bad-tempered meanwhile. “If emotions get out of hand,” EU co-president Donald Tusk warned earlier in the day, “they'll become impossible. Discretion, moderation & mutual respect needed.”
Oil sinks to 2017 lows
Away from UK-EU bickering there was a jolt for oil: the price for Brent oil snuck under $50 a barrel - a 2017 low point. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) values slipped 2.6% earlier to $46.60. OPEC meets on 25 May with a (likely) commitment to extend its earlier supply agreement though prices could go lower in the meantime, say some analysts.
(Oil profits got an earlier look at 7am when Shell announced a doubling of first quarter profits to $3.8bn - better numbers were revealed by BP and Total recently also.)