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.)
Addias shares hit all-time record
Earlier in the day German sportswear player Adidas disclosed that US sales leapt 31% in the first quarter of 2017. The sportswear company said net profit was upped to €450m from €351m. Adidas shares hit an all-time high of €183.7 consequently.
Equity analyst Independent Research GmbH has stuck a €195 price target on the stock. The new Adidas numbers did not flatter key rival Nike who saw a sales rise of just 3% in comparison.
UK new car sales wither
Lastly, sales of UK new cars sank almost 20% in April compared to a year ago claims the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
"With the rush to register new cars and avoid VED tax rises before the end of March,” said SMMT chief exec Mike Hawes, “as well as fewer selling days due to the later Easter, April was always going to be much slower.”
Before 5pm today the pound against the US dollar was trading at 1.2911, up 0.36% and 1.795 against the euro, -0.2% down.