FTSE loses ground as investors fear weak third quarter earnings data

BRITAIN’S top share index lost ground yesterday, extending declines on concerns about upcoming third quarter earnings.

Drugmakers dipped, with Shire down 1.8 per cent and AstraZeneca off 0.5 per cent. The firms kick off the heavyweight sector’s results season tomorrow.

According to Thomson Reuters Starmine data, of the eight per cent of European companies that have reported results so far, nearly half have missed forecasts.

TR Starmine analysts have estimated year-on-year third-quarter earnings growth at 7.6 per cent in Europe, while the average for companies that have already reported is a 4.2 per cent drop.

At the close, the FTSE 100 was down 17.82 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 5,882.91 points, having shed 0.4 per cent on Friday to snap a four-session winning streak.

UK blue chips tracked weakness in their US peers, with the Dow Jones off 0.3 per cent by London’s close, having dropped sharply on Friday, also pressured by earnings concerns.

Among the US fallers, mining company Freeport-McMoRan lost 0.9 per cent after its third-quarter profit fell sharply, missing Wall Street estimates.

UK-listed miners, however, featured on the FTSE leaderboard, steadying after falls on Friday, with traders citing support from positive European strategy comments from Morgan Stanley. The bank’s strategists switched their preference to miners from chemicals in European materials.

Gold miner Randgold Resources was the top blue chip gainer, up 2.7 per cent on a firmer gold price.