- Int'l Power leads risers after bid from GDF
- Energy stocks lifted by JP Morgan
- Financials weighed down by euro worries
The FTSE 100 finished slightly higher on Monday with investors shrugging off concerns about the Eurozone periphery as sentiment was lifted by upbeat economic data and the Citigroup earnings report in the US.
Cementing gains in the afternoon were US retail sales which improved by 0.8% in March, according to the Commerce Department, following on from the 1% rise in February. Economists were expecting a 0.3% increase. Meanwhile, the much-anticipated first-quarter earnings report from US banking giant Citigroup surprised to the upside, with earnings per share of 111 cents coming in well ahead of the 102 cents consensus estimate.
However, Eurozone anxieties weighed heavily on financials stocks in London today, with the yield on 10-year Spanish debt surpassing the six per cent mark early on. By the close in London, the borrowing rate for 10-year Spanish bonds was up 9.1 basis points at 6.068%. The rise comes ahead of key auctions being held on Tuesday and Thursday by the Spanish government.
"The European Central Bank's (ECB) liquidity operation may have rescued the financial system but it cannot rescue the economy. Following a quiet Q1 the Eurozone is back in choppy waters and Spain is at the centre of the storm. This time concerns are as much about economic growth as they are about debt," said RBS's Chief Economist Andrew McLaughlin in his 'Weekly Brief'.
Meanwhile, ECB board member Jörg Asmussen said "the worst of the crisis seems to be over, but the crisis of public and private debt in some euro area countries is clearly not over...The ball is with governments, they have to act," Asmussen would go on to say.
FTSE 100: Int'l Power & energy stocks in demand
Leading the upside was utilities firm International Power after French shareholder GDF SUEZ raised its bid from 390p to 418p per share. Investec said that it does not foresee much regulatory risk to the takeover given that GDF already owns 70% of the company.
Energy stocks were given a lift today by comments from JP Morgan Cazenove, which upgraded its rating on the sector from neutral to overweight. "Energy is the second worst performing sector year-to-date, underperforming in particular in the past one month...We think this is a good entry point," the US broker said. JP Morgan highlighted BP and Shell in the report, both of which finished in the blue.
Banks were leading the downside by the close of trade, on the back of concerns over Spain and the debt crisis that continues to plague the Eurozone. Moody's Investors Service has said that it will delay its publication of a review into European banks until next month. The Wall Street Journal has said that 114 banks in 16 European countries are at risk of a downgrade. RBS, Lloyds and Barclays were among the worst performers of the day. Lloyds was being weighed down by reports that the Co-operative Society is set to make a decision this week on whether it should press on with its tortuous negotiations over the acquisition of 632 branches from the part-nationalised lender.
Shares of Randgold Resources fell into the red despite a late announcement revealing that construction work at its Kibali project in the Democratic Republic of Congo is proceeding rapidly "as the developers keep their sights firmly set on first production by the end of 2013". When completed, it is expected to be one of the largest fold mines in Africa.
Luxury brand Burberry was performing well today ahead of its fourth-quarter trading update due to be released Tuesday morning. In contrast, investors of High Street giant Mark & Spencer were taking profits ahead of its own trading statement also due tomorrow. Shares in automotive and aerospace engineer GKN advanced ahead of the firm's trading update on Wednesday.
FTSE 250: Cairn rises, Perform drops
Oil and gas group Cairn Energy was a high riser after saying that Agora Oil and Gas, a firm it is set to buy, has struck oil at its Skarfjell Prospect in the Norwegian North Sea.
Sports media group Perform Group was among the worst performers after saying that it has agreed a partnership to integrate its livesport.tv platform, a network of online sports channels, into the so-called 'smart' TV product line of South Korean firm LG.
FTSE 100 - Risers
International Power (IPR) 416.80p +3.19%
Croda International (CRDA) 2,190.00p +2.72%
GKN (GKN) 203.70p +2.26%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 268.80p +1.86%
Polymetal International (POLY) 985.50p +1.86%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 2,341.00p +1.83%
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) 1,427.50p +1.82%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 599.00p +1.78%
Unilever (ULVR) 2,038.00p +1.65%
Centrica (CNA) 318.80p +1.63%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Man Group (EMG) 105.10p -4.45%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 29.71p -3.40%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 24.27p -3.11%
Aviva (AV.) 298.30p -2.42%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 171.40p -2.11%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 1,162.00p -2.02%
Barclays (BARC) 210.80p -1.91%
Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. (ENRC) 559.50p -1.84%
Resolution Ltd. (RSL) 238.10p -1.77%
Anglo American (AAL) 2,227.50p -1.55%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Moneysupermarket.com Group (MONY) 134.50p +4.51%
Spirit Pub Company (SPRT) 54.25p +3.33%
AZ Electronic Materials SA (DI) (AZEM) 302.20p +2.68%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 327.00p +2.19%
Genus (GNS) 1,273.00p +2.17%
QinetiQ Group (QQ.) 155.00p +1.97%
Rotork (ROR) 2,071.00p +1.77%
Fidelity European Values (FEV) 1,101.00p +1.66%
Morgan Crucible Co (MGCR) 333.90p +1.64%
Temple Bar Inv Trust (TMPL) 921.50p +1.60%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Perform Group (PER) 282.10p -7.51%
Essar Energy (ESSR) 147.30p -5.46%
International Personal Finance (IPF) 240.90p -5.46%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 63.05p -4.83%
Kesa Electricals (KESA) 59.00p -4.76%
Aquarius Platinum Ltd. (AQP) 129.50p -4.64%
Dixons Retail (DXNS) 16.70p -4.02%
Elementis (ELM) 197.50p -3.56%
Bumi (BUMI) 565.00p -3.42%
Ophir Energy (OPHR) 505.50p -3.35%