London midday: Stocks nudge lower as investors mull earnings

Michele Maatouk WebFG News | 20 Apr, 2017 12:23 - Updated: 12:23 | | |

London Stock Exchange AIM LSE shares

London stocks had edged lower by midday on Thursday as the pound held firm against the dollar, having gained ground on news of a snap general election in June.

The FTSE 100 was down 0.1% to 7,106.62, while the pound was 0.3% firmer against the dollar at 1.2825. A stronger pound tends to dent the index, as around 70% of its constituents derive their earnings from overseas.

IG analyst Joshua Mahony said: "The FTSE is weakening once more this morning, as the pound continues its ascent in the wake of Theresa May’s decision to call a snap election in just seven weeks. To many the appreciation of the pound seems counter-intuitive, yet the prospect of a strengthened Tory majority means there is hope that this election could be good for the UK in Brexit negotiations.

"While Jeremy Corbyn is pushing his long-standing socialist policies, the fact is that this is essentially a vote on who we want to lead our country into Brexit negotiations. Corbyn seems ill-equipped to deal with his own party members, let alone European heads of state."

The stronger pound was compounded by a weaker oil price, said Mike van Dulken at Accendo Markets, with BP and Shell both lower.

Equipment rental firm Ashtead was the biggest faller, with its shares retreating after results from US peer United Rental showed rental rates were under pressure in the first quarter.

Retailer Debenhams slumped after new chief executive Sergio Bucher unveiled his strategic vision for growing the company, and following the release of in-line interim results.

Acacia Mining shares lost their shine after the company's first-quarter results showed a 15% increase in gold production but that sales were lower than the same period last year due to the Tanzanian government's gold and copper export ban.

Technical products supplier Diploma edged lower as it announced the acquisition of Abacus ALS, the largest privately owned supplier of in-vitro diagnostics products in Australia and New Zealand, for up to £15.7m (AU$26m).

Barratt Developments, Petrofac, Smurfit Kappa, Mondi, Hochschild, John Laing, and Inmarsat were in the red as their stock went ex-dividend.

Going the other way, Unilever shares made headway after the group upped its quarterly dividend 12% as underlying sales grew 2.9% in the first three months of the year, despite sales volumes remaining in the red for the third consecutive quarter.

Rio Tinto was also in the black despite saying that first quarter copper production fell 37% month on month and year on year due to issues at its mines in Chile and Indonesia. Rio cut its mined copper guidance to between 500,000 and 550,000 tonnes for the year from its previous guidance of between 525,000 and 665,000 tonnes.

Paper and plastics product supplier Essentra rallied after confirming that trading for the financial year to date had been in line with the board's expectations.

Sky ticked up a touch after saying it has signed a multi-year $250m (£195m) co-production deal with US television network HBO as operating profits fell 11% to £1.01bn for the nine months to April.

Asset manager Man Group surged as it reported a 10% jump in funds under management for the first quarter, boosted in part by a recent acquisition.

Transport operator Go-Ahead also racked up strong gains after it reiterated its expectations for the full year as it said service levels on the Govia Thameslink Railway, which it runs, have stabilised following recent industrial action.

WPP was boosted by well-received results from French peer Publicis.

UK lenders upped mortgage lending by 19% in March compared to February, according to the Council for Mortgage Lenders.

There are no major UK data releases due, but Bank of England Governor Mark Carney is due to give a speech at 1630 BST. In the US, initial jobless claims and the Philadelphia Fed manufacturing survey are at 1330 BST.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,106.62 -0.11%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 19,320.97 -0.50%
techMARK (TASX) 3,406.00 0.07%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Unilever (ULVR) 3,999.50p 1.57%
Pearson (PSON) 625.00p 1.05%
St James's Place (STJ) 1,069.00p 1.04%
GKN (GKN) 348.00p 0.99%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 7,301.00p 0.76%
Admiral Group (ADM) 2,019.00p 0.70%
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 2,483.00p 0.69%
WPP (WPP) 1,697.00p 0.65%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 5,218.00p 0.64%
Carnival (CCL) 4,534.00p 0.60%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Ashtead Group (AHT) 1,554.00p -4.31%
Intu Properties (INTU) 274.60p -4.25%
Kingfisher (KGF) 328.10p -2.26%
BAE Systems (BA.) 617.00p -2.14%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,513.00p -2.07%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 576.50p -1.96%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 7,040.00p -1.61%
Smurfit Kappa Group (SKG) 1,959.00p -1.46%
Persimmon (PSN) 2,268.00p -1.26%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 354.20p -1.17%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Essentra (ESNT) 527.00p 4.77%
Man Group (EMG) 149.60p 3.60%
Go-Ahead Group (GOG) 1,781.00p 3.01%
Cobham (COB) 129.30p 2.29%
Paragon Group Of Companies (PAG) 447.00p 2.01%
HarbourVest Global Private Equity Limited A Shs (HVPE) 1,245.00p 1.22%
Caledonia Investments (CLDN) 2,792.00p 1.12%
Moneysupermarket.com Group (MONY) 336.60p 1.08%
Homeserve (HSV) 655.00p 1.00%
Senior (SNR) 209.30p 0.92%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Debenhams (DEB) 52.05p -5.88%
Acacia Mining (ACA) 429.60p -5.73%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 824.50p -5.39%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 261.00p -4.95%
Dixons Carphone (DC.) 322.70p -3.09%
Hunting (HTG) 557.50p -2.79%
John Laing Group (JLG) 283.20p -2.75%
Aggreko (AGK) 834.00p -2.68%
International Public Partnerships Ltd. (INPP) 154.40p -2.53%
IP Group (IPO) 139.10p -2.39%

More news

13 Dec US close: Stocks end on mixed note, despite Fed and tax cuts

Stocks finished on a mixed note after two rate-setters dissented from the Federal Reserve's widely-expected decision to hike rates.

13 Dec Sector movers: Financials pace gains ahead of central bank policy decisions

Cyclicals paced gains on Wednesday, alongside a bounce in food retailers with financials figuring prominently ahead of interest rate decisions from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday evening, as well as the Bank of England and European Central Bank the next day.

13 Dec Director dealings: Ashtead's top brass sell at 52-week high

A large swathe of US-focused equipment rental company Ashtead's top brass offloaded a large part of their holdings of stock in the company even as the price hit a 52-week high.

13 Dec Europe close: Stocks hit by strong euro, Italian political uncertainty

Stocks sagged as a weaker-than-expected reading on US inflation sent the single currency higher ahead of the US central bank's policy announcement later on Wednesday, with Italian stocks also battered by reports which, analysts said, held out the prospect for political instability in the Eurozone's third-largest economy in 2018.

13 Dec Disney close to sealing $60bn deal for Fox and Sky stake - reports

Walt Disney is reportedly set to secure a $60bn deal to buy 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets, including its 39% stake in UK broadcaster Sky.

13 Dec FOMC hikes rates, but Evans and Kashkari dissent

The US central bank went ahead with its third rate hike of 2018, as expected, but two rate-setters dissented, voting instead for no change.

13 Dec London close: Stocks flat as traders wait on US Fed

London stocks were little changed on Wednesday as investors digested some mixed UK jobs data and looked ahead to the latest policy announcement from the Federal Reserve.

13 Dec US open: Stocks rise ahead of Fed rate decision

Stocks are trading higher ahead of the US central bank's policy announcement later in the day, bolstered by a weaker than expected reading on consumer prices.

13 Dec Thursday preview: BoE, ECB, European Council, Bunzl, Ocado, Sports Direct

Thursday is a big day for the Brexit process as the European Council begins its two-day meeting in Brussels, while the Bank of England's and European Central Bank's rate setters are also convening and results are expected from the likes of Bunzl, Cussons, Ocado and Sports Direct.

13 Dec Gasoline stockpiles build alongside increased domestic output

US crude oil inventories shrank more quickly than expected last week, albeit a large increase in domestic output and an offsetting large build in gasoline stockpiles.