- Better-than-expected US data bolsters gains late on
- Corporate earnings from Lloyds, BT, BSkyB and others impress
- Chinese manufacturing figures beat estimates
A flood of economic data from the US and China and a barrage of well-received results from some heavyweight stocks in the UK helped the FTSE 100 register impressive gains on Thursday.
"With All Saints' Day in Europe depleting volumes across the board, the UK drove much of the action in the first half of the session, thanks to a number of robust earnings from the likes of BT, Shell and Lloyds Banking Group," said market strategist Ishaq Siddiqi from ETX Capital.
Markets were given a further boost in the afternoon after a flurry of upbeat economic indicators Stateside lifted sentiment in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy earlier this week. ISM manufacturing, initial jobless claims and ADP employment numbers all came in ahead of expectations today.
Siddiqi said that this "bodes well before tomorrow's non-farm payrolls report and plays into the hands of President Obama who surely would be relieved the that the world's largest economy is on an upward path to growth under his leadership."
Meanwhile, the HSBC Chinese manufacturing sector purchasing managers' index for the month of October rose to 49.5, from 47.9 in the month before, according to survey compiler Markit. This was an eight-month high and not far from the key level of 50 which indicates that the sector contraction has ceased. The consensus estimate was for 49.1.
"This is a big boost for China, with the PBOC using both conventional and unconventional measures to try and maintain its high level of growth," said market analyst Craig Erlam from Alpari.
In other news, UK manufacturing PMI for the month of October retreated to 47.5 points, after a reading of 48.1 (preliminary: 48.4) in the month before, according to the figures released by Markit. The consensus estimate had been for a reading of 48.
As an aside, the Bank of England has today completed its £375bn target for asset repurchases.
FTSE 100: Lloyds, BT and BSkyB lead the risers
Banking giant Lloyds rose strongly after an 'in-line' third-quarter statement. The lender said that it is making progress despite delivering a statutory loss before tax of £583m for the first nine months of the year, including a further Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) provision of £1bn in the third quarter. Sector peers Barclays and RBS were also making gains.
Telecommunications giant BT surged after it bumped up its interim dividend following a solid second quarter which saw profits before tax grow 7% despite a 9% fall in adjusted revenue.
Pay-TV and broadband provider BSkyB advanced after seeing decent growth across the board in the first quarter, helped by the number of high-profile sporting events that fell in the period, such as the US Open, Ryder Cup and Olympic Games.
Anglo-Dutch integrated oil major Shell gained after its third-quarter net income was comfortably ahead of expectations. "I am pleased with our progress in a difficult industry environment. There is more to come from Shell," said CEO Peter Voser.
Investments and insurance group Legal & General was wanted after generating record revenues in the third quarter, with UK and US protection sales each rising by around a third.
Oilfield support services company Wood Group also rose after announcing that a series of management changes has come into effect today, including the retirement of its Chairman Sir Ian Wood.
However, not all updates received approval by the markets this morning: speciality chemicals group Croda tanked after selling its Italian business and saying that month-to-month trading in the third quarter had been "volatile".
Commodities trader and mines owner Glencore was subdued after saying its third quarter was a good one, despite generally weaker commodity prices.
Oil and gas firm BG Group was continuing to fall after cutting back production guidance yesterday. Shares are now down 16% on the week.
FTSE 250: Dixons jumps on hopes of Comet's demise
Electricals retailer Dixons soared on the news that its main High Street rival, Comet, is likely to go into administration. According to The Guardian, industry sources said Comet faced a cash crunch after trade insurers cut credit lines to suppliers, forcing them to ask for payment for goods upfront.
Gold miner Centamin rebounded strongly today after returning to the market following a suspension from trade, as the firm looked to reassure investors concerned about the future of its flagship Sukari project in Egypt. Shares plummeted two days ago after media reports claimed that an Egyptian court had labelled its Sukari mining concession, its primary source of revenue, as void.
Defence contractor Chemring plummeted after today after reducing profit expectations for the financial year ended October 31st following delays and technical problems in a number of contracts.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 43.94p +8.28%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 759.00p +7.05%
BT Group (BT.A) 227.00p +6.82%
Barclays (BARC) 239.25p +5.16%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 140.00p +4.48%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 694.00p +4.36%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,215.00p +4.20%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 287.20p +4.06%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,302.00p +3.58%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 335.00p +3.24%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
BG Group (BG.) 1,102.00p -3.97%
Croda International (CRDA) 2,172.00p -1.32%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 648.50p -0.99%
Severn Trent (SVT) 1,596.00p -0.62%
Serco Group (SRP) 563.00p -0.62%
Meggitt (MGGT) 384.50p -0.39%
Experian (EXPN) 1,066.00p -0.37%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 267.50p -0.15%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 354.20p -0.11%
Capita (CPI) 722.50p -0.07%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Dixons Retail (DXNS) 23.38p +13.50%
International Personal Finance (IPF) 369.10p +6.37%
Hunting (HTG) 794.50p +6.15%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 219.80p +5.22%
FirstGroup (FGP) 200.40p +5.20%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 67.10p +5.13%
Man Group (EMG) 82.15p +4.72%
Berendsen (BRSN) 589.00p +4.62%
Domino's Pizza Group (DOM) 528.50p +4.55%
Savills (SVS) 423.30p +4.54%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Chemring Group (CHG) 260.60p -16.93%
SDL (SDL) 512.00p -3.49%
Lonmin (LMI) 499.20p -2.69%
RPS Group (RPS) 228.00p -2.52%
Bank of Georgia Holdings (BGEO) 1,160.00p -2.44%
Mondi (MNDI) 670.00p -1.76%
Perform Group (PER) 394.00p -1.75%
Ruspetro (RPO) 101.20p -1.75%
Playtech Ltd. (PTEC) 416.90p -1.58%
Barr (A.G.) (BAG) 438.20p -1.53%