Marks & Spencer shares
were putting in a strong performance this afternoon, recovering somewhat after yesterday's third quarter miss. The stock was given a boost by Investec, which upgraded its rating from 'hold' to 'buy', saying that the business should now become cash generative given that the current year is the last year of elevated capital expenditure.
The gains came despite Numis Securities scaling back its profit forecasts for the High Street retailer. The broker maintained a 'hold' rating and 450p target price for the stock. Investec also reduced its forecasts for M&S after the results.
Tullow Oil climbed after HSBC upgraded the stock. At its most recent interim managment statement the company said it was making "good progress" across its main areas of operations. CRH was also reportedly feeling the benefits of a broker upgrade.
Banks were performing strongly, with Barclays, RBS, and Lloyds also higher. The Bank of England announced at midday that it had decided to leave the key Bank Rate at 0.5% and its asset purchase programme at £375bn, as expected.
Meanwhile, British supermarket group Morrison fell after it admitted that its sales performance over Christmas was "disappointing" as it warned investors that full-year profits would come likely come in at the bottom end of forecasts. Morrison, one of the 'Big Four' UK grocers behind Tesco, Sainsbury and Asda, said that total sales excluding fuel and VAT were 1.9% lower than last year in the six weeks to January 5th. Including fuel, sales fell by 3.3%.
After its unexpectedly weak fourth quarter, Standard Chartered has reorganised its business units, with three senior directors stepping down, pushing shares firmly into the red. The bank said from April 1st it will merge its two business units, wholesale and consumer banking, into one business organised into three customer segment groups and serviced by five global product groups.
RSA declined after saying that a review by PricewaterhouseCooper found that "inappropriate collaboration" among a number of senior executives in Ireland "undermined control effectiveness over claims". The company also said that it had suffered further weather losses over Christmas that will impact 2013 results.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 470.60p +5.78%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 843.00p +2.80%
CRH (CRH) 1,625.00p +2.39%
ITV (ITV) 201.30p +2.34%
British Land Co (BLND) 635.50p +1.84%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 302.60p +1.82%
BT Group (BT.A) 385.90p +1.79%
Barclays (BARC) 288.20p +1.59%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 363.60p +1.59%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 85.11p +1.56%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 233.90p -7.99%
William Hill (WMH) 371.40p -7.10%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,244.50p -5.14%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 449.00p -5.13%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 1,025.00p -3.94%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 97.45p -3.23%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 3,647.00p -2.41%
Unilever (ULVR) 2,363.00p -1.91%
Fresnillo (FRES) 680.00p -1.73%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 354.00p -1.67%