FTSE 100 ends lower on disappointing corporate updates, BT Group soars

By Pranav Kashyap and Purvi Agarwal

(Reuters) -Britain’s FTSE 100 closed slightly lower on Thursday, as disappointing news from EasyJet and Sage Group offset a surge in BT Group after the telecoms group’s new boss unveiled steps to boost its cash flow.

BT Group’s shares surged a record 17.2% after CEO Allison Kirkby set out a path to more than double free cash flow over the next five years and potentially dispose of its global enterprise business.

“I always love to squeeze the shorts …  and prove them wrong,” the FT quoted Kirby as saying.

Helping counter those gains, shares of EasyJet slid 6.0% after the budget airline said CEO Johan Lundgren will step down in early 2025 and reported first-half losses in line with its expectations.

Sage Group dropped 9.4% after the software group trimmed its full-year revenue forecast on expectations of lower growth in the United States.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 slipped 0.1% after hitting a series of record highs in recent weeks on hopes of monetary policy easing from major central banks and positive corporate earnings.

Bank of England policymaker Megan Greene said the central bank should wait for more conclusive evidence that strong inflation pressures were becoming less stubborn before it moved to cut rates.

The Bank of England will start bringing down interest rates in August, a slim majority of economists polled by Reuters projected.

“There is a keen eye trained on comments from Megan Greene, who is still urging bit of caution. The pound has gained some more ground and that could be why the FTSE dipped back into negative territory slightly, with expectations that the bank won’t rush to cut rates in June,” said Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets at Hargreaves Lansdown.

Shares of BP fell 1.5%, GSK dropped 1.6% while Kingfisher slumped 2.8% as the stocks traded without the entitlement to their latest dividend payouts.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 closed up 0.2% at a more than two-year high.

Watches of Switzerland soared 19.9% after the luxury retailer forecast higher revenues in its new financial year.

(Reporting by Pranav Kashyap, Purvi Agarwal and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Eileen Soreng and Richard Chang)


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