- Miners limit gains after weak economic data
- Services PMIs from China, UK, Eurozone and US weaken
- RSA rises, UBS says takeover and break-up still possible
- Retailers in focus ahead of updates
techMARK 2,792.25 +0.13%
FTSE 100 6,730.73 0.00%
FTSE 250 16,049.30 +0.18%
UK markets ended flat on Monday after a choppy session amid an influx of economic data which showed that service-sector growth had slowed across the globe during December.
The FTSE 100, which briefly pushed into positive territory in afternoon trade, finished just 0.06 points higher at 6,730.73 after paring gains before the close of trade.
"The party season is well and truly over, and City trading desks are back to full capacity," said Market Analyst Alastair McCaig from IG following a quiet festive season in terms of company news and economic data.
He said that "traders are looking to keep their powder dry" ahead of a busy week that will see trading updates from a number of UK blue-chip stocks, along with central-bank meetings in the UK and Europe and the all-important US jobs report.
Services PMIs point to slowdown
Purchasing managers' indices (PMIs) from across the globe today showed that while activity in services sectors continued to expand in December, growth had eased on the previous month. This followed data last week which indicated a weakening in manufacturing growth in China, the US and UK in December.
There was a surprise slowdown in growth in the UK services sector in December with the PMI falling from 60 to 58.8, below the 60.3 consensus forecast.
The final estimate of the Eurozone services PMI was confirmed at 51 in December, down from 51.2 in November, with an ongoing contraction in France's services sector weighing on growth.
Figures released overnight saw the China services PMI survey decline from 52.5 to 50.9, while the US ISM services index unexpectedly fell from 53.9 to 53 (forecast: 54.7).
RSA gains after UBS comments, miners fall
RSA Insurance was a high riser after UBS raised its target price for the stock and added it to its 'Alpha Preferences Most Preferred List', saying: "While there are significant uncertainties, we think that the balance of risks is to the upside." Meanwhile, the bank also said that a takeover and break-up of RSA still "remains a possibility", following recent market chatter.
Leading the downside were mining stocks despite a rise in metal prices today as investors reacted to the worsening economic figures out from top metals consumer China.
Fresnillo, Antofagasta, Randgold Resources and Rio Tinto all suffered heavy losses in afternoon trade. Gold miner Centamin, however, bucked the trend after beating analysts' estimates with its fourth-quarter production results.
Retailers were under pressure ahead of trading updates from the likes of Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Sainsbury later this week. The festive reporting season has so far been a mixed bag, with a profit warning from Debenhams contrasting with a stellar update from Next on Friday.
M&S was in the red today on speculation that it is a "likely candidate to suffer from the highly promotional and competitive clothing market", according to Equity Analyst Amisha Chohan from Sanlam Securities. Meanwhile, Sainsbury declined after rival chain Asda reported strong Christmas trading in both store and online.
Petrofac rose after Deutsche Bank lifted the stock to 'buy', while oilfield services peer Wood Group was dampened after the bank cut its rating to 'hold'.
FTSE 100 - Risers
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 97.90p +6.24%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,491.00p +3.47%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,290.00p +2.46%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,597.00p +2.04%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 790.00p +1.74%
Barclays (BARC) 277.50p +1.70%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 1,754.00p +1.68%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,733.00p +1.64%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 414.00p +1.52%
ITV (ITV) 197.70p +1.49%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Fresnillo (FRES) 735.50p -4.67%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 787.00p -4.14%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 3,786.00p -3.52%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,266.00p -3.09%
G4S (GFS) 254.70p -2.11%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,275.00p -1.70%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 367.80p -1.66%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,828.50p -1.56%
WPP (WPP) 1,361.00p -1.52%
Royal Mail (RMG) 572.00p -1.38%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Dunelm Group (DNLM) 979.00p +4.48%
Restaurant Group (RTN) 612.50p +3.73%
Diploma (DPLM) 723.00p +3.29%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 46.55p +2.94%
Entertainment One Limited (ETO) 271.00p +2.85%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 370.90p +2.83%
Telecom Plus (TEP) 1,797.00p +2.69%
Pace (PIC) 320.30p +2.66%
Halfords Group (HFD) 457.40p +2.53%
UDG Healthcare Public Limited Company (UDG) 335.00p +2.45%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Polymetal International (POLY) 564.50p -4.48%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 201.30p -4.05%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 652.00p -3.76%
NMC Health (NMC) 436.50p -2.98%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 179.60p -2.92%
International Personal Finance (IPF) 520.00p -2.44%
Petra Diamonds Ltd.(DI) (PDL) 119.00p -2.14%
KCOM Group (KCOM) 96.65p -2.13%
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 765.00p -1.92%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 889.50p -1.77%