Schroders slips as UK's FTSE dips for third day in a row

Thu Nov 7, 2013 6:23am EST

* FTSE slips 0.3 pct, dipping for 3rd session

* Schroders falls after Q3 results

* Traders await ECB, Bank of England decisions

* Pressure has risen on ECB to cut rates

By Sudip Kar-Gupta

LONDON, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Britain's benchmark equity index edged lower on Thursday for the third consecutive session, with fund management group Schroders slipping in the wake of its third-quarter results.

Traders were also reluctant to buy up new equity positions ahead of policy decisions from the European Central Bank (ECB) and Bank of England (BoE) later in the day.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 was down 0.3 percent, or 17.15 points, at 6,724.54 points in mid-session trade, continuing a retreat from five-month highs of 6,819.86 points reached in late October.

Schroders was the worst-performing FTSE 100 stock, as it fell 3.5 percent to 2,512 pence, despite winning back clients in the third quarter.

Schroders' shares have risen nearly 50 percent this year, and several brokers attributed the stock's decline to investors selling out to cash in on that rally after Schroders' results.

Some brokers also said investors might question whether the fund house justified its relatively high valuation.

According to Thomson Reuters StarMine data, Schroders is trading on a 12-month forward price to earnings (P/E) ratio of 17.1 - above a comparable P/E ratio of 13.3 for Aberdeen Asset Management and 14.5 for Jupiter.

"With the shares trading at a premium to the sector, we believe that today's statement could cause investors to lock-in recent share gains," said RBC Capital Markets analyst Peter Lenardos.

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The European Central Bank and Bank of England were both set to announce policy decisions.

Pressure has risen on the ECB to cut interest rates following weak inflation data last week, while the Bank of England is expected to keep rates on hold at a record low of 0.5 percent.

The FTSE is up 14 percent this year, although a run-up over the last few months has still failed to push the index back up to its 2013 peak of 6,875.62 points, a 13-year high.

Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets, said a decision by the ECB to hold rates could keep the FTSE 100 stuck within a tight rage for now.

"The FTSE 100 remains in a sideways 6,715-6,790 trend, potentially holding this range until tomorrow's U.S. jobs data should central banks fail to deliver any fireworks today," he said. (Additional reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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