Canary wharf view
RBS, Barclays profits fail to perk up lacklustre London market Reuters

London indices were decidedly flat on Friday (28 April) despite bumper results from Barclays and a turn for the better for RBS.

At 3:39pm BST, the FTSE 100 was down 0.19% or 14.08 points to 7,223.09, while the FTSE 250 was down 0.04% or 3.51 points to 19,633.13 points, as pre-tax profits at Barclays surged in the three months to the end of March to £1.68bn, up from £793m in the corresponding period last year and better than the £1.46bn average estimate of analysts' forecast.

Concurrently, taxpayer-owned RBS posted its first quarterly profit in a year and a half on the back of dramatic cost-cutting.

The troubled lender posted a profit of £259m ($334m) for the first three months of 2017, compared to a loss of £968m in the same period a year earlier.

Predictably, RBS (+4.66%) led the blue chip gainers, with Morrisons (+2.35%), Kingfisher (+1.85%) and Anglo American (+1.84%). Miner Antofagasta (+2.02%) also rose after declaring an uptick in copper production.

However, Barclays (-4.82%) shares slipped despite the bank's profit surge and optimistic outlook. Asia-focussed bank Standard Chartered (-2.06%), Royal Mail (-3.53%) and Mediclinic International (-4.19%) were also among the blue chip fallers.

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: "If RBS and Barclays can prove they are able to extricate themselves smoothly and painlessly from their non-core operations, and reduce the number of one-off items from litigation and conduct fines, loan impairments and restructuring which continues to litter their "core" profit and loss accounts, then the shares could look cheap."

However, that remains a big 'if,' especially as RBS still faces litigation in the USA amid allegations over the mis-sale of mortgage-backed securities.

"In addition the prospects for underlying growth at both firms still looks relatively modest, given the mature, competitive and tightly-regulated nature of the UK banking market," Mould concluded.

Away from the blue chips, Virgin Money (-4.45%), Just Eat (-2.47%), McCarthy & Stone (-2.20%), Stagecoach (-2.10%) and Greencore Group (-2.10%) were the biggest fallers on the FTSE 250.

Going the other way, Drax Group (+6.35%) was among the midcap star performers after completing its $35.4 acquisition of Louisiana Pellets. Renishaw (+4.79%), Evraz (+4.04%), Ferrexpo (+3.10%) and Nostrum Oil & Gas (+2.77%) were also among the FTSE 250 gainers.