Halt to dividend payments drags FTSE down

The stock market broke its winning streak on the back of lower oil prices and weak housing figures, as well as the impact of a clutch of leading shares trading without their dividend.

European markets headed higher, but by late morning the FTSE 100, which had hit a 14 month high on Wednesday, was down 18.2 points, or 0.26 per cent, at 6,848.64. The FTSE 250 retreated from its one year high with a 1 per cent fall of 15.79 points to 17,683.89.

Blue chips were dragged lower by a number of stocks turning negative as they went ex-dividend, including Ashtead, AstraZeneca, Barclays, BT, Diageo, HSBC and Lloyds Banking Group. A string of mid-cap stocks were also trading without their dividend entitlement.

At the top of the FTSE fallers was Berkeley Group, down 6 per cent. Not only was the builder one of the “ex-divi” stocks, but the the sector fell in response to a Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors report showing a slowdown in house price growth.

Taylor Wimpey, Persimmon and Barratt Developments fell about 2 per cent each, as did Travis Perkins, the builders merchant.

Lower oil prices dragged Royal Dutch Shell and BP 2.6 per cent and 0.3 per cent lower respectively.

Risers were led by Coca Cola HBC, up 7 per cent following strong results from the soft drinks bottler, and TUI, up 3.5 per cent as the holiday giant said it was on track to meet annual profit targets.

DFS Furniture was the biggest mid-cap riser with a gain of 13 per cent after it said full results would be at the top of expectations, but Card Factory was the biggest faller, down 8 per cent after it said sales had been affected by challenging conditions.