FTSE ends first quarter up 180 points despite banking turbulence


he FTSE 100 has ended the first quarter of the year in positive territory despite a massive sell-off in early March which pummelled the index.

London’s top share index saw its value rise by 0.2% on Friday, ending the month, and the quarter, on a slight high.

The index closed the tumultuous three months at 7,631.74 points, 180 higher than it finished last year, but well off the peak of more than 8,000 that the index reached in February.

It has been a turbulent quarter as a four-month upward trajectory following September’s mini-budget was interrupted by the collapse or near collapse of several global banks.

“There’s a saying that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, and the last few weeks have certainly felt like that for investors who have had to endure a month of whiplash-inducing volatility,” said Michael Hewson, an analyst at CMC Markets.

“The bulls got a huge bite taken out of them in the early part of the month, and to some extent, are still licking their wounds now.

“The last few days have seen a lot of those losses slowly chipped away at, as the month bows out like a lamb, and with slightly less fanfare and optimism than when it started.”

On Friday, the FTSE was one of the worst performers globally. Germany’s Dax index gained 0.7% while the Cac 40 in Paris was up 0.8%.

In New York, the S&P 500 was up 0.8% and the Dow Jones had gained 0.7% shortly after markets closed in Europe.

On currency markets the pound dropped slightly, buying 1.238 dollars, although against the euro it was somewhat in the green at 1.138.

In company news, Rolls-Royce said that it had appointed a new finance boss. Helen McCabe will take the role of chief financial officer at the engineering giant, coming from oil major BP.

She will work alongside Tufan Erginbilgic, the new chief executive who also came from BP. Shares closed up 0.5%.

Elsewhere, shares in undertaker Dignity fell by 0.8% as the business reported that it had swung to a sizable loss last year.

The company’s £32 million pre-tax profit in 2021 was transformed into a loss of £329 million a year later, the business reported. It said that people were opting for cheaper funerals at the same time as its costs were rising.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were M&G, up 7.4p to 198p, Pearson, up 28.6p to 844.4p, Beazley, up 12.5p to 597.5p, DCC, up 98p to 4,718p, and Unite Group, up 18.5p to 959.5p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Imperial Brands, down 44.0p to 1,864p, Melrose Industries, down 2.5p to 166.5p, Airtel Africa, down 1.4p to 106.5p, Barratt Developments, down 5.9p to 466.5p, and Legal & General, down 2.9p to 238.9p.

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