London equities finished slightly lower on Monday despite Wall Street having remained closed in observance of Presidents' Day, which usually leads to a positive bias in stocks.
Weighing on equities, however, were the weak retail sales data out of China, which in turn weighed on equities. As well, the pro bail-out candidate in Cyprus's Presidential elections, Anastiasiades, took only 45.5% of the vote, short of the 50% needed, so elections will now move into a second round, scheduled for February 24th.
Chinese consumers reigned in their spending over the Lunar New Year festivities by the most in four years, as authorities cracked down on extravagant spending by the public sector. That, in turn, seems to have been the main culprit behind the falls seen in the prices of most industrial metals today.
Nevertheless, in the background analysts and investors were busy analysing the possible outcome - and implications - of the upcoming elections in Italy, this coming weekend. Sentiment seemed somewhat divided with economists at Credit Agricole arguing that the political risk in Italy remains too elevated to stay long the country's bonds.
For his part, Nobel Economics prize winner Paul Krugman was cited over the weekend as saying that a 'Grexit' was still 'more likely than not.'
No less important will be the fresh indications regarding US monetary policy - from Wednesday onwards - and the latest readings on the Eurozone's manufacturing and service sectors, on Thursday.
Also acting as a backdrop was the latest data from the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which showed short speculative positions in Sterling outnumbering bullish ones for the first time in five months.
Chinese data weighs on miners
ITV's family net advertising revenues (NAR) could rise by between 8% and 14% in March according to industry forecasts, Bank of America Merrill Lynch pointed out today, well ahead of the 6% gain seen in February. For that reason the broker raised its price target on ITV to 125p from 117p before.
Miners were the worst performing group on the Footsie after news that Chinese retail sales at shops and restaurants increased by 14.7% in the February 9th to February 15th period versus a year ago. That was less than the 16.2% pace seen in 2012 and the slowest pace in four years.
Iberia, the Spanish subsidiary of London-listed IAG, announced 15 days of strike action.
The New York Times reported that Carnival will begin a detailed inspection of its Triumph ship, which was towed to shore last week following a small on-board fire.
Vodafone may approach Germany's largest cable provider Kabel Deutschland about a takeover bid as early as this week, according to several published reports.
Man Group rose today. Analysts at Merrill Lynch attributed the rise to speculation that the company's profits could be undergoing a 'normalisation.'
The Takeover Panel - the British watchdog - is being urged by investors to step in over the battle for control of troubled Indonesian coal miner Bumi plc. It comes as Bumi plc shareholders prepare to meet Thursday to vote on co-founder Nathaniel Rothschild's proposal to replace 12 of the 14 directors on the board.
Micro Focus confirmed on Monday that one of its subsidiaries has acquired Orbix, Orbacus and Artix software product lines from Progress Software Corporation, following a month delay, for $15m.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Hammerson (HMSO) 504.00p +3.45%
ITV (ITV) 120.30p +2.82%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,708.00p +1.67%
Imperial Tobacco Group (IMT) 2,356.00p +1.64%
National Grid (NG.) 692.50p +1.54%
Severn Trent (SVT) 1,605.00p +1.33%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 263.90p +1.03%
Rexam (REX) 472.50p +0.77%
Prudential (PRU) 952.00p +0.74%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,729.50p +0.67%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. (ENRC) 390.30p -3.08%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,983.00p -2.75%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 726.00p -2.75%
Evraz (EVR) 283.10p -2.21%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,098.00p -1.88%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 923.00p -1.81%
Carnival (CCL) 2,462.00p -1.72%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 224.20p -1.62%
Sage Group (SGE) 332.50p -1.60%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,618.00p -1.58%
FTSE 250 - Risers
New World Resources A Shares (NWR) 297.00p +8.95%
Rank Group (RNK) 167.40p +5.95%
Bumi (BUMI) 394.00p +4.43%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 129.00p +4.03%
Herald Inv Trust (HRI) 571.50p +3.16%
Betfair Group (BET) 705.00p +2.84%
LondonMetric Property (LMP) 116.80p +2.64%
Computacenter (CCC) 495.00p +2.48%
Man Group (EMG) 109.60p +1.86%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 427.70p +1.83%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 644.00p -4.66%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 283.00p -4.07%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 425.10p -3.69%
Homeserve (HSV) 232.60p -3.69%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 282.50p -3.68%
Daejan Holdings (DJAN) 3,400.00p -3.55%
Ashmore Group (ASHM) 362.20p -3.46%
Kentz Corporation Ltd. (KENZ) 395.90p -3.20%
RPS Group (RPS) 236.00p -2.88%
Devro (DVO) 370.20p -2.58%
FTSE TechMARK - Risers
BATM Advanced Communications Ltd. (BVC) 18.00p +6.67%
Torotrak (TRK) 25.12p +3.61%
Consort Medical (CSRT) 689.00p +1.70%
Ark Therapeutics Group (AKT) 0.97p +1.56%
Vislink (VLK) 32.50p +1.56%
RM (RM.) 72.00p +1.41%
Xaar (XAR) 295.00p +1.37%
XP Power Ltd. (DI) (XPP) 1,142.00p +1.24%
Puricore (PURI) 45.00p +1.12%
Parity Group (PTY) 24.38p +1.04%
FTSE TechMARK - Fallers
Phytopharm (PYM) 1.90p -81.00%
Hiwave Technologies (HIW) 0.20p -71.43%
Optos (OPTS) 208.00p -1.89%
E2V Technologies (E2V) 116.00p -1.69%
NCC Group (NCC) 148.00p -1.66%
Ricardo (RCDO) 400.00p -1.23%
Filtronic (FTC) 64.00p -1.16%
Innovation Group (TIG) 24.75p -1.00%
Wolfson Microelectronics (WLF) 200.00p -0.99%
Electronic Data Processing (EDP) 55.00p -0.90%