- Eurozone money supply weak, German unemployment rises
- Markets cautious after recent highs
- LSE leads financials higher
- GSK to be investigated by UK fraud body
techMARK 2,799.81 +0.48%
FTSE 100 6,851.22 +0.09%
FTSE 250 15,935.43 +0.58%
UK stocks ended slightly higher after trading in a narrow range throughout most of the Wednesday as investors showed caution given global indices were at multi-year or record highs and amid weak macroeconomic data out on the Continent.
So-called 'broad' money supply in the Eurozone eased to a year-on-year rate of 0.8% in April, versus the 1.1% which analysts had penciled in.
"The continuation of the downward trend in money supply (M3) growth to levels not seen since the immediate aftermath of the global financial crisis and weak April bank lending figures for households and non-financial firms significantly increase the likelihood that the ECB is going to announce further targeted liquidity measures on June 5th," Barclays Research wrote to clients.
The FTSE 100 ended the session just 0.1% higher at 6,851.22.
For her part, Chief Market Strategist Brenda Kelly from IG said that the weak German unemployment figures earlier in the day had "cast a pall over markets, and a day devoid of further major macro has meant markets are struggling for direction".
As an aside, the euro spent much of the day skirting the 1.36 mark.
Acting as a backdrop, in the afternoon Reuters quoted a NATO military officer as having stated that while Russian troops may indeed be slowly pulling back from the border with Ukraine the bulk of the force remains close to it for now.
In parallel, overnight the Governor of the central bank of China Zhou Xiaochuan said the economy is in a rare "complicated" situation amid speculation policymakers will introduce new measures to spur growth in the world's second largest economy.
London real estate heading for natural correction
The Confederation of British Industry's (CBI) distributives trades survey revealed a slowdown in the pace of retail sales growth in the UK during the month of May. The total sales index retreated to a reading of 16, whereas economists had been expecting a reading of 35.
For its part, London real estate is heading for a "natural correction", according to building society Nationwide, which released its results on Wednesday.
Volatility spike in Smith&Nephew shares
Smith & Nephew shares
experienced a spike in volatility in afternoon trading on the back of reports - later denied by the ostensible suitor itself - that US medical device manufacturer Stryker was readying a takeover offer.
Stock exchange operator LSE was also in demand after Credit Suisse said it expects a re-rating of the stock over time if the possible acquisition of Russell Investments is completed. The bank added LSE to its 'Focus List' and kept an 'outperform' rating.
Cantor Fitzgerald reiterated its 'sell' rating on Royal Mail, and cut its target price from 500p to 480p, pushing the stock into the bottom spot.
Meanwhile, BT Group benefited from an upbeat outlook from Goldman Sachs, which said the stock offers higher growth and a cheaper valuation than others in the sector. Goldman added that it is upbeat about the telecom's upcoming launch of consumer mobile operations later this year.
Shares in GlaxoSmithKline declined on the news that the Serious Fraud Office has opened a criminal investigation into the "commercial practices" at the pharmaceutical group. The news came as a further blow to shareholders after a wave of bribery allegations against the company in recent months.
Broker Shore Capital downgraded its 2015 and medium-term forecasts and said its neutral recommendation for Marks & Spencer, "may be so for quite a while". Analyst Clive Black is now looking for modest year-on-year growth of around 3% for 2015 earnings per share of 33.5p, a 4% downgrade. He forecasts a free cash flow yield of 7.5% for next year, with a dividend yield of 3.9%.
As a group shares in miners, such as Anglo American, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton were lower by the close of trading following data which showed that Chinese industrial profits increased 10% this year through April from the same period in 2013, marking a slight slowdown on the previous three months. Overnight Chinese central bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan said the economy is in a rare "complicated" situation amid speculation policymakers will introduce new measures to spur growth in the world's second largest economy.
Banknote printer De La Rue jumped after reporting a 43% surge in annual underlying operating profit and said it entered the new financial year with a good order book.
A host of stocks traded lower after going ex-dividend this morning, including heavyweights Marks & Spencer and Whitbread. Amec, Bellway, Britvic, Cable & Wireless Communications, Premier Farnell and Spectris also went ex-dividend today.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 993.50p +4.25%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) 1,955.00p +2.57%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,216.00p +2.18%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 368.90p +2.16%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 1,016.00p +1.80%
Severn Trent (SVT) 1,933.00p +1.79%
BT Group (BT.A) 398.40p +1.63%
ITV (ITV) 184.60p +1.60%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 629.20p +1.29%
William Hill (WMH) 346.30p +1.23%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Royal Mail (RMG) 516.00p -2.73%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,527.50p -1.89%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,177.50p -1.81%
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) 1,608.50p -1.59%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 443.60p -1.58%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,565.00p -1.45%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,922.00p -1.31%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 335.50p -1.03%
Diageo (DGE) 1,880.50p -1.03%
Carnival (CCL) 2,393.00p -0.99%
FTSE 250 - Risers
De La Rue (DLAR) 874.00p +7.90%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 366.40p +6.33%
SIG (SHI) 196.20p +5.48%
Kier Group (KIE) 1,710.00p +4.97%
QinetiQ Group (QQ.) 205.50p +4.37%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 276.40p +4.30%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,683.00p +4.21%
Laird (LRD) 297.00p +4.10%
Serco Group (SRP) 369.40p +4.06%
Kentz Corporation Ltd. (KENZ) 734.00p +3.82%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) 53.40p -3.78%
Rightmove (RMV) 2,262.00p -3.33%
Bwin.party Digital Entertainment (BPTY) 117.40p -3.22%
Amec (AMEC) 1,174.00p -2.57%
Evraz (EVR) 103.80p -2.54%
Barr (A.G.) (BAG) 623.50p -2.43%
Moneysupermarket.com Group (MONY) 170.00p -2.19%
Marston's (MARS) 151.10p -2.14%
Inchcape (INCH) 624.50p -2.04%
Entertainment One Limited (ETO) 296.50p -1.79%