FTSE 100 Live May 19: Consumer confidence fears stocks could swing, Royal Mail releases results

Consumer confidence fears hit stocks

Signs that US consumers have been limiting their spending on ‘big ticket’ items have sparked another exodus from stocks today.

Tesco and B&Q owner Kingfisher were among the shares down 4% in London as the FTSE 100 index fell 2% in response to a dismal session on Wall Street last night.

The S&P 500 now faces its seventh straight weekly decline after poor updates this week from retail giants Target and Walmart sent the US benchmark down 4% in its worst daily performance since June 2020.

Target shares were 25% lower as consumer caution over large purchases of furniture and electronics was compounded by its warning that rising fuel prices and supply chain costs also gnawed at the margins.

Hargreaves Lansdown senior analyst Susannah Streeter said: “With consumer purchasing power set to erode further due to rising interest rates, the concern is that Target’s pain is a harbinger of even more difficulties to come for retailers.”

Concerns over consumer confidence left the FTSE 100 index down 149.52 points to 7288.57.

Bunzl, whose outsourcing services are used by several retailers, fell 5% or 159p to 2,760p and investment firm 3i, which owns Benelux-based discount retailer Action, was down 8% or 106p at 1218p.

Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust, the backer of Tesla and Amazon whose results today showed a 13.1% fall in net asset value (NAV), was 5% or 37.2p lower at 751.2p. He, however, urged investors to take a longer-term view of its performance, after pointing out that the net asset value was up 200% over five years.

The FTSE 250 index fell more than 2% or 373.91 points to 19,575.53, with recruitment firm Page down 7% and electronics firm Currys down 6%.

Cybersecurity firm Darktrace fell another 3.9p to 319.3p, despite a statement dismissing any link between the firm and Autonomy’s ongoing civil suit.

It also emerged today that Darktrace chief executive Poppy Gustafsson had spent £100,000 on shares in the company priced at 336.5p after watching the stock fall 15% yesterday.