FTSE drops to a one-month low as ARM takes hit

BRITAIN’S benchmark share index, which hit near 13-year highs in May, fell to a one-month low yesterday as a global equity pullback deepened over signs of weakness in the world economy.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index closed down by 0.9 per cent, or 57.97 points, at 6,525.12 points – its lowest closing level since ending at 6,521.46 points on 3 May.

Chip designer ARM was the worst-performing FTSE 100 stock.

It slumped seven per cent after analysts voiced doubts over whether Cortex A-12, its new processor for smartphones, would do enough to assuage concerns over the firm’s competitive position and high stock price.

ARM hit 12-year highs in February.

“We do not expect the Cortex A-12 to make a meaningful difference to ARM’s outlook,” brokerage Liberum wrote in a research note, keeping a “sell” rating.

The FTSE and other stock markets were hit by weak manufacturing data from the United States and China, which raised doubts over the global economy.

Some investors have used such weak data as a sign to buy into shares, on expectations that economic weakness will mean the US Federal Reserve and other major central banks will continue with their stimulus programmes.

The programmes have hit yields on bonds and driven investors to the better returns available from equities, helping drive a stock market rally this year.

But traders said investors were now focusing on the negative data as an excuse to book a profit on the rally, rather than using it as a bullish signal heralding more central bank aid.

Some traders expect any market pullback in June and July to be relatively shallow and short-lived, and for equities to resume an upwards trajectory towards the end of the year.

But both EGR Broking managing director Kyri Kangellaris and MB Capital trading director Marcus Bullus advised against buying into the FTSE at current levels on expectations it could fall further.

Bullus said the FTSE, which has risen around 11 per cent since the start of 2013, could be vulnerable to falling to 6,250, which represents low points reached in February and April.

“We’re not looking to go against the trend for the moment,” he said.

European shares also fell yesterday, with concerns about the health of the economy in Germany and the United States prompting investors to lock in profits on top performers of recent months. The International Monetary Fund halved its growth forecast for Germany.

The FTSEurofirst 300 closed down 0.7 per cent at 1,207.65 points.

Telecoms and healthcare, among the top performers in the past three months, led the fallers.