UK equities close lower, Jupiter Fund knocked lower by outflows

By Sruthi Shankar

(Reuters) -The UK’s main stock indexes closed down on Tuesday as miners dragged blue chips lower, while shares of Jupiter Fund Management sank nearly 15%, knocked by outflows and exit of a star manager.

The British fund firm’s stock had fallen as much as 19.7% to touch an intraday record low after it flagged more-than-expected net outflows of 2.2 billion pounds ($2.8 billion) in 2023 and the departure of manager Ben Whitmore this summer.

The stock was the biggest faller on the FTSE 250 midcap index, which was down 0.5%.

The blue-chip FTSE index slipped 0.1%, mirroring a downbeat mood across European and U.S. equity markets ahead of U.S. inflation data, the British GDP report and Wall Street bank earnings this week.

“Having ended 2023 very much on the up there appears to be little in the way of enthusiasm to drive markets higher in the short term, with trading activity subdued and a relatively negative bias so far year to date,” noted Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

Homebuilders, miners and insurers were some of the biggest decliners on the FTSE indexes on Tuesday.

Liberum analysts cut volume forecasts for some of the UK housebuilders, saying the benefits from falling mortgage rates in the spring season will be offset by a “challenging planning environment”.

Housebuilder MJ Gleeson lost 8.0% after it issued downbeat forecast for gross margins and posted lower home sales in the half-year to Dec. 31.

Hays fell 7.1% after the recruitment firm forecast lower-than-expected first-half profit and said the short term outlook would remain challenging amid a hiring slowdown.

Meanwhile, the FTSE 350 retail index dropped 1.0% after industry data showed British retailers reported tepid sales around Christmas, which may add to concerns that the economy has tipped into a mild recession.

(Reporting by Khushi Singh and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Eileen Soreng, Sohini Goswami and Alison Williams)