Thur City brief: New FTSE100 record; Ladbrokes closing 60 shops

The FTSE100 hit a record closing high tonight, its second new peak in a week, helped by an uplift in Asia-focused bank Standard Chartered which appointed a new chief executive.

Investment banker Bill Winters will succeed Peter Sands, giving the shares a 5.4%  boost.

Although there was less enthusiasm for RSA (down 4.7%) and Royal Bank of Scotland (4.1% lower), the top index closed 0.2% higher at 6,949.73 points which is a new closing high and near the intraday record high of 6,958.89 points it reached on Tuesday.

There is now speculation that the FTSE100 will push through 7,000 quite soon, with only the uncertainty over the General Election seen as a restraining factor.

Today’s results included:

LADBROKES: A further 60 shops will close this year on top of 89 that shut in 2014 as the company meets the challenge of online gambling. Also sees football betting increasing among young as over the counter horse and greyhound betting declines. Company to install 2,000 self-service betting terminals this year. Pre-tax profit for the year fell 13.5% to £98m. The dividend is maintained at 8.9p.

RSA: A return to profit and to paying a dividend gave former RBS chief executive Stephen Hester a reason to be cheerful at the insurer he now leads. However, he admitted that “the clean-up of past weaknesses was also expensive; and market headwinds, especially from exchange rate changes and low interest rates, are a drag on results.” 2014 pre-tax profit came in at £275m, against a £244m loss in 2013. A final dividend of 2p per share is recommended. Richard Houghton, group chief financial officer, will stand down from the Board of Directors with effect from 7 May.

PREMIER OIL: Chief executive Tony Durrant said it is “not clear at this stage when the oil price will find a floor, or how long it may take to recover”. The group has suspended its dividend for 2014 after reports a loss after tax of US$ 210.3 million in 2014 (2013: US$234.0 million profit after tax).



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