Tobacco firms take the puff out of FTSE amid merger talks - London Report

WEAKER tobacco and com­m­o­d­ity company stocks hit Britain’s leading share index yesterday – but the FTSE 100 still managed to make its biggest quarterly gain since 2013.

The FTSE was down 118.39 points, or 1.7 per cent, at 6,773.04 by the close, but is up 3.2 per cent this year.

Consumer staple stocks were responsible for nearly 25 points of the blue-chip index’s losses. Imperial Tobacco fell 3.4 per cent and British American Tobacco 2.9 per cent on fears that a merger of U.S. peers Reynolds and Lorillard might fall through.

Mining, oil and other commodity-related stocks took nearly 35 points off the index, as commodity prices were pressured by a stronger dollar.

Despite its quarterly rise, the FTSE has lagged its Eurozone counterparts, which were boosted by European Central Bank stimulus measures and are less exposed to commodity stocks.

The index was nevertheless supported by shares in B&Q owner Kingfisher, Europe’s biggest home improvement retailer, which rose 4.3 per cent to be the top FTSE 100 riser.