(Alliance News) - Stock prices in London were lower at midday Thursday, with Wednesday's Wall Street session failing to shine in Europe.

Amongst individual stocks, BT rose after it lifted its dividend. Pulling down the FTSE 100 index were Sage Group and easyJet.

The FTSE 100 index was down 23.84 points, 0.3%, at 8,421.96. The FTSE 250 was down 13.91 points, 0.1%, at 20,761.72, and the AIM All-Share was up 0.98 of a point, 0.1%, at 792.59.

The Cboe UK 100 was down 0.2% at 841.60, the Cboe UK 250 was up slightly at 18,110.83, and the Cboe Small Companies was up 0.3% at 16,249.49.

In European equities on Thursday, the CAC 40 in Paris was down 0.5%, while the DAX 40 in Frankfurt was down 0.2%.

"After a sparkling session on Wall Street last night amid hopes that the latest inflation data raises the chances of a US interest rate cut, European markets didn't share the joy," said AJ Bell's Russ Mould.

Stocks on Wall Street got a boost thanks to inflation data.

The year-on-year US consumer price inflation rate cooled to 3.4% in April, from 3.5% in March, as expected, data from Bureau of Labor Statistics showed on Wednesday.

Stocks in New York were called higher on Thursday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 index are both called up 0.1%, and the Nasdaq Composite called up 0.2%.

On Wednesday, all three indices notched recorded closing highs. The Dow and S&P 500 surpassed previous highs recorded on March 28, while the Nasdaq moved past Tuesday's previous record.

The pound was quoted at USD1.2670 at midday on Thursday in London, up slightly compared to USD1.2668 at the equities close on Wednesday. The euro stood at USD1.0869, down against USD1.0872. Against the yen, the dollar was trading at JPY154.74, lower compared to JPY154.85.

In the FTSE 100, BT shot up 11%.

The telecommunications provider lifted its dividend, as it forecasts significantly improved cash flow in the coming years now that peak investment in its full-fibre roll-out has passed.

Commenting as BT unveiled results for the financial year ending March, recently installed Chief Executive Allison Kirkby said: "Having passed peak capex on our full-fibre broadband rollout and achieved our GBP3 billion cost and service transformation programme a year ahead of schedule, we've now reached the inflection point on our long-term strategy."

On the other hand, Sage Group lost 10%.

The Newcastle upon Tyne-based accountancy software provider fell after it predicted slightly slower than expected full-year revenue growth despite making progress in the first half of the financial year.

In the six months ending March, Sage said pretax profit rose 47% to GBP203 million from GBP139 million a year prior. Revenue climbed 5.5% to GBP1.15 billion from GBP1.09 billion.

easyJet lost 5.7%.

easyJet said it will promote its chief financial officer to chief executive next year, as the Luton Airport-based budget airline reported half-year results in line with its earlier guidance.

easyJet said Kenton Jarvis, who has been CFO since 2021, will replace Johan Lundgren as CEO early in 2025. Lundgren has been in charge since the end of 2017, guiding the airline through the Covid-19 pandemic, which all but halted travel.

Separately, easyJet said its pretax loss narrowed to GBP347 million in the six months that ended March 31 from GBP415 million a year before, as revenue rose by 21% to GBP3.27 billion from GBP2.69 billion.

In the FTSE 250, Auction Technology rose 12%.

In the six months ended March 31, revenue rose to USD86.0 million from USD80.8 million a year earlier. Pretax profit surged to GBP3.1 million from GBP600,000.

Auction Technology noted that trading in the first six weeks of the second half has been in line with guidance.

Amongst London's small caps, Secure Trust Bank rose 6.0%.

The provider of savings accounts and lending services said in the first quarter of 2024, the net loan book grew by 1.7% from the previous quarter and 11.9% compared to the first quarter of 2023.

CEO David McCreadie said: "The group continued to grow net lending in the quarter and is trading in line with management expectations. I am pleased that the positive momentum from last year has continued and that we have taken another step towards our GBP4 billion net lending ambition."

Brent oil was quoted at USD82.28 a barrel at midday in London on Thursday, down from USD82.42 late Wednesday. Gold was quoted at USD2,381.70 an ounce, up against USD2,381.08.

Still to come on Thursday's economic calendar, there is the latest US initial jobless claims reading at 1330 BST, before industrial production data at 1415 BST.

By Sophie Rose, Alliance News senior reporter

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