On both sides of the Atlantic, shares in technology firms have been hit as the fallout from the Facebook data sharing scandal and Trump’s trade war continued to spread.
A further £30.2bn ($42bn) was wiped off the value of the Silicon Valley giants Amazon, Apple and Netflix yesterday after the boss of Facebook agreed to testify to Congress about the crisis engulfing his firm. While Mark Zuckerberg has refused a similar request to appear before British MPs, he said he welcomed regulation of social media sites.
Investors are increasingly fearful that governments and regulators will clamp down on the way big tech firms use and sell the data they keep on their users. That would not just hit the profits of social media sites, but all types of technology firms.
Shares in FTSE 250-listed cyber-security specialists Sophos Group slumped 5.4 per cent, or 25.2p, to 444.6p, making it the biggest faller among British tech companies. IQE, the Cardiff company that makes chips for Apple’s iPhone, fell 4.9 per cent, or 6.6p, to 126.9p while software firms Aveva (down 1. per cent, or 20p, to 1880p) and Sage (down 0.8 per cent, or 5.4p, to 643.8p) also lost ground.
The Polar Capital Technology Trust, which invests in dozens of tech firms, including Facebook, dived 4.5 per cent, or 50p, to 1062p as investors fled the sector.
But the FTSE 100 avoided negative territory as a result of strong showings for healthcare and utilities firms. It ended the day up 0.64 per cent, or 44.6 points, at 7044.74.
Water company United Utilities’ shares soared near the top of the flagship index a day after it announced bullish revenue and profits forecasts. Its shares shot up 8.3 per cent, or 55.6p, to 724p.
Miners propped up the blue-chip index as the dollar strengthened and the price of oil and metals fell. Evraz had the toughest day of UK-listed miners, falling 6.1 per cent, or 27.4p, to 425.2p. It was followed by Antofagasta (down 3.9 per cent, or 37p, to 910.8p), Anglo American (down 3.8 per cent, or 64.2p, to 1616.8p) and Glencore (down 2.9 per cent, or 10.35p, to 353.15p).
On to the Aim index. Oil explorers Lansdowne Oil & Gas and Providence Resources have secured another partner for a project off the coast of Cork in Ireland. A consortium of Chinese firms, led by Apec Energy, has bought a 50 per cent stake.
Steve Boldy, Lansdowne’s chief executive, said: ‘The Chinese consortium brings a wealth of technical and operational expertise and experience and we look forward to finalising the details of the drilling programme that is expected to move the project forward to development.’ Lansdowne shares jumped 26.4 per cent, or 0.35p, to 1.68p while Providence’s leapt 17 per cent, or 1.6p, to 11p.
Esports firm Gfinity went cap in hand to investors to fund video game events. It will place more than 55.8m shares to raise the £6.7m it needs. But investors were not impressed and shares slid 3.1 per cent, or 0.38p, to 11.75p.
Stellar results heated up the shares of refrigerated warehouse provider Norish. The Aim-listed firm increased revenue by 31.5 per cent to £42.3m last year, while pre-tax profits shot up by 138 per cent to £1.5m.
Chairman Ted O’Neill said: ‘We anticipate another strong year of profit growth in 2018, underpinned by the initiation of a continuous improvement programme.’ Shares hopped 8.4 per cent, or 6.5p, to 84p.
A bullish update gave a boost to AB Dynamics, which supplies testing kit to the car industry.
Revenues and operating profit for the six months to February 28 are expected to be ‘significantly ahead of the same period last year’, while it boasted of a strong order pipeline. Its shares ticked up 6.9 per cent, or 60p, to 935p.