- Markets pause for breath after recent highs
- Mining stocks surge as Citi turns bullish
- Aberdeen drops as AuM fall
- Retailers AB Foods, Halfords, Dixons, Home Retail in focus
techMARK 2,843.65 +0.10%
FTSE 100 6,815.42 -0.07%
FTSE 250 16,209.65 -0.51%
UK markets finished largely flat on Thursday after previously hitting an eight-month high as strong gains from mining stocks were offset by falls from Aberdeen and a number of retailers.
The FTSE 100, which rose to 6,819.86 on Wednesday - its highest level since May 22nd 2013 - was little changed by the close, finishing down just 4.44 points at 6,815.42. The index was trading within a narrow range of 20 points of so for most of the session, swinging between gains and losses throughout the day.
Despite the subdued finish for the wider market, miners put in a decent performance after upbeat comments from analysts.
"The mining sector is worth its weight in gold at the moment, as the only sector propping up the market. The recent cooling-off in the commodities supercycle has meant that natural resource stocks are now undervalued," said David Madden, Market Analyst at IG.
Across the Pond, markets opened in the red as investors were largely underwhelmed by quarterly earnings from bellwethers Goldman Sachs and Citigroup.
Miners surge as Citi turns bullish
Analysts at Citigroup lifted its 12-month stance on the mining sector from 'neutral' to 'bullish', representing its first positive outlook for the industry in three years. The bank labelled BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Glencore Xstrata as its "key picks" in the sector, providing a big boost to each stock today. BHP, in particular, was upgraded from 'neutral' to 'buy'.
Antofagasta, Anglo American, Fresnillo and Randgold Resources were all making gains this afternoon. Russian precious metals firm Polymetal was also firmly higher after UBS raised its recommendation from 'neutral' to 'buy', saying that company is well-positioned" for free cash-flow growth.
In contrast, product testing group Intertek fell sharply after a downgrade by Berenberg to 'hold', and postal service and delivery firm Royal Mail was pushed lower after Beaufort Securities cut the shares
Associated British Foods, the food ingredients company and owner of Primark, was a heavy faller after reporting flat revenues in its first quarter, as continued strength by its Primark division was outweighed by a steep decline in revenues by Sugar.
Festive sales updates from a host of other retail stocks received a mixed reaction from the markets today: Halfords impressed after a better-than-expected 5.2% jump in group like-for-like (LFL) sales in its third quarter; Dixons underwhelmed with a 3% rise in LFL sales in its third quarter; Home Retail gained after strong LFL sales from its Argos and Homebase divisions and upbeat guidance for the full year.
Meanwhile, Sports Direct closed in the red after saying that it sold the 4.6% stake in fellow retailer Debenhams it bought on Monday and replaced it with a put option over a larger 6.6% shareholding.
SVG Capital declined sharply after big investor Aegon sold 20m shares in the investment company. Aegon sold the stock for a total of £84m and reduced its holding to around 18.5m shares, equal to a 7.9% stake, a significant reduction to its previous holding of 15.4%.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Antofagasta (ANTO) 832.50p +5.38%
Fresnillo (FRES) 732.50p +5.24%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 907.50p +5.16%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,397.50p +4.88%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 689.00p +4.55%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,860.00p +3.82%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 3,892.00p +2.69%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,334.50p +2.47%
Glencore Xstrata (GLEN) 327.20p +2.43%
Imperial Tobacco Group (IMT) 2,232.00p +2.15%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Intertek Group (ITRK) 2,879.00p -3.36%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 845.00p -2.82%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,014.00p -2.78%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,625.00p -2.63%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 84.10p -2.55%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 3,335.00p -2.43%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,500.00p -2.41%
Amec (AMEC) 1,027.00p -2.38%
Prudential (PRU) 1,345.00p -2.32%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 721.00p -2.17%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Halfords Group (HFD) 492.50p +6.83%
Polymetal International (POLY) 543.50p +5.74%
Computacenter (CCC) 675.00p +4.65%
CSR (CSR) 703.00p +3.38%
Victrex (VCT) 1,873.00p +3.31%
Petra Diamonds Ltd.(DI) (PDL) 125.00p +3.31%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 897.50p +3.10%
Partnership Assurance Group (PA.) 336.00p +2.60%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 193.30p +2.22%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 176.10p +2.09%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
SVG Capital (SVI) 424.50p -8.91%
Dixons Retail (DXNS) 47.11p -6.53%
Premier Oil (PMO) 288.00p -6.49%
AL Noor Hospitals Group (ANH) 825.00p -5.71%
Homeserve (HSV) 290.70p -5.00%
Ted Baker (TED) 2,118.00p -4.68%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,250.00p -3.55%
Booker Group (BOK) 154.90p -3.13%
Crest Nicholson Holdings (CRST) 380.00p -3.06%
IP Group (IPO) 175.10p -2.99%