Date: Monday 29 Oct 2012
UK stocks finished slightly lower after a volatile session with markets showing caution as Hurricane Sandy hits the east coast of America, causing the New York Stock Exchange to suspend trading for today and possibly tomorrow.
“It’s been a day of low volumes today as investors hold back to assess the potential cost of Hurricane Sandy on insurers and the US Economy,” said financial sales trader Matthew Nelson.
“Following disappointing US corporate earnings earlier this month this latest problem is likely to create an even larger drag on volumes and October is likely to be the third quietest month in terms of volumes this year. With trading updates due from Barclays, Lloyds and RBS this week it is increasingly likely that we will hear that the lack of activity has had a detrimental effect on said companies’ earnings.”
As market strategist Ishaq Siddiqi from ETX Capital pointed out today, the market reactions to both Hurricane Katrina back in 2005 and last year’s Hurricane Irene were similar to that of Sandy.
“So during both events, the [Stoxx Europe 600 insurnace] index dropped in the run up to the disaster, but recouped losses almost a month after the impact and was over 25% higher for the year after both Irene and Katrina. For that reason, we expect history to repeat itself after Sandy and see today’s sell-off as typical reaction before the buying ensues after the impact of Sandy, however this assumption is based on manageable disaster and we cannot quantify the overall damage until the storm is well and truly over,” Siddiqi said.
News from the Eurozone failed to brighten the mood on stock markets today. Italy’s former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the leader of the People of Freedom party who has just been given a four-year jail term for tax fraud, has threatened to pull his support of current PM Mario Monti, whose government depends on bipartisan parliamentary support.
Berlusconi, who accused Monti of “fiscal extortion”, said that he will take a decision in the coming days.
Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras announced that the Troika has refused to make concessions on Greek labour market reforms as they continue negotiations over the conditions linked to the next tranche of the bailout. Analyst Craig Erlam from Alpari said: “It is only a matter of time until the Troika get their way, they have already allowed Greece two extra years to hit their deficit targets, this is a step too far from the Greeks.”
Insurance peers Admiral and Old Mutual were among the worst performers on the Footsie this afternoon as investors wait to assess the financial impact of Hurricane Sandy.
Analysts at Citi have downgraded their view on shares of Hargreaves Lansdown to 'sell' from 'neutral', expressing their concerns for the group ahead of the up-coming retail distribution review. In contrast, accountancy software group Sage headed the other way after Citi upped its recommendation on the shares to 'buy' and raised its target price from 294p to 345p.
BT was heading lower after it was reported that the company is likely to post a decline in second-quarter turnover on Thursday, after corporate spending was reportedly affected by the current difficult economic situation. Oil giant BP was a heavy faller ahead of its third-quarter results tomorrow.
Mining group Anglo American was lower despite saying that subsidiary Amplats has come to an agreement with trade unions in South Africa and hopes to see its 12,000 dismissed employees return to work by tomorrow. Nomura has slashed its forecasts for Anglo this morning, saying that South African operation disruptions, production curtailments and a CEO exit has added to near-term uncertainty for the business.
Serco Group, the international service company, was on the up after it signed a contract for an outsourcing partnership that will provide customer contact and support services for AEGON, the Dutch life and pensions company.
African Barrick Gold took a hammering after Friday's news that the firm had cut full-year production guidance and had suffered a surge in costs. This caused third-quarter profits to fall by more than 70% and marked the third year in a row that the company has been forced to cut production guidance. It seems the investors' knives were out for the firm today, with at elast four brokers lowering their price targets on the company.
Another faller was Perform Group, despite registering a 44% rise in revenues in the third quarter and saying it was on track to hit full-year targets. The company did see its Technology & Production division perform worse than expected during period, which accounts for around a tenth of group sales.
Halfords, the automotive and cycling parts retailer, rose strongly. In the absence of any other news this could be down to the folks over at Oriel Securities reissuing their buy rating for the group's shares, with a 420p target price on the stock.
Wireless technology firm CSR was also on the up after it confirmed details of a $285m shareholder pay out.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Sage Group (SGE) 309.80p +1.84%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 665.50p +1.37%
Hammerson (HMSO) 475.90p +1.30%
National Grid (NG.) 708.00p +0.93%
Meggitt (MGGT) 386.50p +0.91%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,163.00p +0.87%
CRH (CRH) 1,120.00p +0.81%
Serco Group (SRP) 570.00p +0.80%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 322.40p +0.78%
Experian (EXPN) 1,073.00p +0.75%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 727.50p -4.15%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,094.00p -2.06%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,249.00p -1.58%
WPP (WPP) 788.00p -1.56%
Old Mutual (OML) 170.50p -1.56%
BP (BP.) 425.00p -1.53%
BT Group (BT.A) 213.90p -1.47%
G4S (GFS) 259.80p -1.40%
Evraz (EVR) 236.40p -1.38%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,887.00p -1.31%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Pace (PIC) 181.60p +6.45%
CSR (CSR) 350.70p +3.63%
Soco International (SIA) 338.00p +3.21%
Halfords Group (HFD) 352.50p +2.47%
Rotork (ROR) 2,279.00p +2.24%
Workspace Group (WKP) 310.00p +2.14%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 189.50p +2.10%
AZ Electronic Materials SA (DI) (AZEM) 353.60p +1.90%
Menzies(John) (MNZS) 616.50p +1.90%
Law Debenture Corp. (LWDB) 405.30p +1.83%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 442.00p -4.95%
Perform Group (PER) 410.00p -4.21%
Man Group (EMG) 78.45p -4.15%
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 37.67p -3.41%
Ruspetro (RPO) 99.50p -2.45%
BBA Aviation (BBA) 201.60p -2.04%
Bwin.party Digital Entertainment (BPTY) 119.80p -1.72%
Catlin Group Ltd. (CGL) 465.00p -1.71%
Dixons Retail (DXNS) 20.36p -1.69%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 65.00p -1.66%
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