(Alliance News) - Stock prices in London opened red on Friday, with the FTSE 250 trending downwards following news that C&C Group's CEO Patrick McMahon has stepped down with immediate effect over issues that occurred while he was chief financial officer.

The FTSE 100 index was down 8.13 points, or 0.1%, at 8,276.96. The FTSE 250 was down 51.50 points, or 0.3%, at 20,664.47, and the AIM All-Share was down 1.69 points, or 0.2%, at 794.99.

The Cboe UK 100 was down 0.1% at 824.99, the Cboe UK 250 was down 0.3% at 18,089.26, and the Cboe Small Companies was flat at 16,848.63.

In economic news, the average UK house price fell by 0.1% month on month or or around GBP170 in cash terms in May, according to an index. The typical property value was GBP288,688, which was 1.5% higher than a year earlier, Halifax said.

Amanda Bryden, head of mortgages, Halifax, said: "Market activity remained resilient throughout the spring months, supported by strong nominal wage growth and some evidence of an improvement in confidence about the economic outlook."

In a separate release, the CBI said Britain's economy will see faster-than-expected growth this year and next as the outlook brightens after a tough 2023.

The business group has upped its forecasts for UK growth to 1% in 2024 and 1.9% in 2025 thanks to an expected pick-up in consumer spending as inflation falls back and wages remain robust. It marks an upgrade on the CBI's December predictions for expansion of 0.8% in 2024 and 1.6% in 2025 and comes after the UK eked out growth of a paltry 0.1% in 2023, having slipped into a technical recession at the end of last year.

The report follows an upgrade this week from fellow business group, the British Chambers of Commerce, which is now predicting growth of 0.8% in 2024 and 1% in 2025.

In European equities on Friday, the CAC 40 in Paris and the DAX 40 in Frankfurt were both up 0.4%.

The pound was quoted at USD1.2786 early on Friday in London, up compared to USD1.2783 at the equities close on Thursday. The euro stood at USD1.0889, up against USD1.0882. Against the yen, the dollar was trading at JPY155.24, down compared to JPY156.03.

In the FTSE 250, C&C Group lost 9.6%.

The Dublin-based owner of the Tennent's, Magners and Bulmers Ireland beer and cider brands said that Chief Executive Officer Patrick McMahon has stepped down with immediate effect over issues that occurred while he was chief financial officer. He will remain with the company until September, and Chair Ralph Findlay will take on the role of CEO for the next 12 to 18 months.

According to the board and audit committee, there were failures in the group's reporting framework during McMahon's previous tenure as CFO, and parts of the organisation behaviours "fell short of the levels of transparency demanded".

Also on Friday, C&C said that the publication of its financial 2024 accounts would be delayed until the end of June.

It expects a pretax loss of EUR111 million, swung from profit of EUR52 million a year prior, and attributed this decline to a EUR125 million goodwill impairment. Revenue is expected to be EUR1.65 billion, down from EUR1.69 billion. The firm also announced plans for a new EUR15 million share buyback, and proposed a final dividend of 3.97 euro cents.

Worldwide Healthcare lost 0.5%.

The London-based investor in the global healthcare sector posted a net asset value per share as at March 31 of 381.1 pence, up from 343.5p a year prior. Net asset value total return was positive 12.0%, versus 10.9% from its benchmark.

Dividends per share came to 2.8p, down from 3.1p.

Chair Doug McCutcheon said: "While stock market volatility is to be expected, and in the coming year may be influenced by elections in the US and UK, our portfolio manager, OrbiMed, continues to remain positive on the outlook for the healthcare sector and our company's strategy for maximizing shareholder value over time."

Helios Underwriting fell 2.2%.

The firm announced the resignation of CEO Martin Reith, who steps down "to pursue other opportunities". Michael Wade, currently non-executive chair, will become executive chair with immediate effect as the search for Wade's successor begins.

Nigel Hanbury, currently executive deputy chair, will become non-executive deputy chair. Further, Helios confirmed that it has explored the potential of establishing a new 'follow only' syndicate at Lloyd's, but it has decided not to pursue this concept in order to focus exclusively on supporting its spread portfolio.

In Asia on Friday, the Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo was down 0.1%. In China, the Shanghai Composite was up 0.1%, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was up 0.6%. The S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney closed up 0.5%.

China's exports accelerated far more than expected in May but imports slowed, official figures showed Friday, reported AFP.

Overseas shipments surged 7.6% on-year in dollar terms, the General Administration of Customs said – much better than April's 1.5% and also beating the 5.7% forecast in a Bloomberg survey of analysts. The latest figures represent a second consecutive month of growth, following a brief year-on-year decline of 7.5% in March.

China's total imports grew 1.8% on-year in May, the data showed, down from the 8.4% surge recorded in April.

Separately, Japan's household spending rose in April for the first time in 14 months, official data showed Friday, as wages grow at the fastest pace in three decades.

The figure was up 0.5% on-year with more money spent on education, clothes and transport, including cars, according to the internal affairs ministry.

In the US on Thursday, Wall Street ended lower, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 0.2%, the S&P 500 marginally lower, and the Nasdaq Composite down 0.1%.

Brent oil was quoted at USD79.89 a barrel early in London on Friday, up from USD79.69 late Thursday.

Gold was quoted at USD2,376.70 per ounce, up against USD2,374.90.

In the economic calendar on Friday, there is both GDP and unemployment from the eurozone. Later in the day, there is nonfarm payrolls and wholesale inventories from the US.

By Holly Beveridge, Alliance News reporter

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