Michele Maatouk Sharecast | 21 Apr, 2017 14:53 | | |
London's FTSE 100 was flat at 7,117.67 in afternoon trade as investors digested disappointing UK retail sales data.
Retailer Marks & Spencer got a boost as Barclays initiated coverage of the stock at ‘overweight' with a 410p price target, which implies 14% potential upside.
The bank acknowledged that like the rest of the UK general retail sector, M&S currently faces some significant headwinds given weakening consumer sentiment and FX pressures on input prices, especially in the demand-elastic Clothing & Home segment.
However, it highlighted the fact that M&S Food has a good track record over many years, noting that the company is becoming increasingly food-focused over time.
In addition, Barclays said it sees plenty of opportunity to add more stores, 200 in the next two years on a base of around 600.
Equipment rental firm Ashtead was clawing back some ground, having fallen sharply in the previous session after results from US peer United Rentals showed rental rates were under pressure in the first quarter.
Aviva pushed higher after buying VietinBank's entire 50% shareholding in its life insurance joint venture VietinBank Aviva Life Insurance Limited and signing a new distribution agreement with VietinBank to sell life and health insurance products through its network of more than 1,100 branches.
Mondi and Smurfit Kappa recovered after declining on Thursday as their stock went ex-dividend.
On the downside, Rentokil fell despite announcing that its Rentokil Pest Control business has been awarded The Queen's Award for Enterprise for International Trade, recognising the business's outstanding achievement in global trade.
Consumer goods group Reckitt Benckiser was on the back foot after it reported flat sales for the first quarter.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Babcock International Group (BAB) 901.00p 2.39%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 359.50p 1.64%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,114.00p 1.50%
Convatec Group (CTEC) 294.60p 1.41%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 837.50p 1.39%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 1,601.00p 1.33%
Aviva (AV.) 513.00p 1.28%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,960.00p 1.24%
CRH (CRH) 2,705.00p 1.08%
Smurfit Kappa Group (SKG) 1,983.00p 1.07%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 2,462.00p -1.44%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,822.00p -1.25%
Rentokil Initial (RTO) 239.40p -1.24%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 2,867.00p -1.17%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 7,190.00p -1.17%
Mediclinic International (MDC) 721.00p -1.10%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,575.00p -1.07%
Smiths Group (SMIN) 1,577.00p -0.88%
Kingfisher (KGF) 326.60p -0.79%
Severn Trent (SVT) 2,323.00p -0.73%
Standard&Poor's reaffirmed its rating on the United Kingdom's long-term sovereign debt but warned of the potential impact on the economy from the uncertainty around the Brexit negotiations and their eventual outcome.
Sterling made steady gains on most key cross on Friday, appearing nonchalant in its reaction to disappointing UK economic growth data out mid-morning.
European stocks ended the day on a mixed note after weak readings on UK and US GDP dragged many indices into the red at the end of the month.
Electronic component maker Laird reported strong sales growth in the first quarter of 2017 after a difficult year.
Growth at General Motors accelerated past analyst forecasts with a record first-quarter set of earnings.
Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group customers were prevented from accessing money in their accounts due to a technical glitch ahead of the bank holiday weekend.
Kennedy Wilson Europe Real Estate announced it will pay an interim quarterly dividend of 12.0p per share, while also reporting strong leasing momentum across key investments in Greater London and Dublin.
Time Inc stock reversed recent gains after the board decided not to sell the publishing business as it was being "reinvigorated" under a new strategy.
Berendsen not only needs to invest in property, plant and equipment but is facing increasing competition in the UK, warned Morgan Stanley as it downgraded the stock on Friday.
Mortgage approvals and consumer credit card lending both fell in March according to fresh data from the banking industry, providing the reason for the fall in house prices announced elsewhere on Friday.