- Miners drag FTSE into red
- Feb US consumer confidence falls
- EU expects mild euro area recovery
techMARK 2,903.08 -0.49%
FTSE 100 6,830.50 -0.52%
FTSE 250 16,527.88 -0.07%
Stocks eased back from some of the session's earlier losses, but still ended the day on a downbeat note as miners weighed heavily on the back of fears over the economic situation in China.
The FTSE ended the session down 35.36 points at 6,830.50.
US consumer confidence falls
The Conference Board's consumer confidence index for February slipped to a reading of 78.1 from 79.4 the month before, led by a slide in the expectations component, which fell to 75.7, from 80.8.
Capital Economics Economist Amna Asaf added: "Overall, we aren't too concerned about the tiny decline in confidence, as the improving fundamentals suggest that a rebound is just around the corner."
Meanwhile, house prices in the 20 main US cities increased at a slower pace in December, albeit more quickly than had been foreseen. The S&P/Case-Schiller Index climbed 13.4% from a year earlier. It rose 13.71% in November.
EU expects mild euro area recovery, cuts inflation forecast
The European Commission said today it expects a mild recovery in the euro-area over the next two years, according to its latest forecast. The euro-area is predicted to grow 1.2% this year and 1.8% next year after two consecutive years of contraction.
The EU's executive body also cut its inflation forecast for the single currency area after lower-than-expected price rises at the beginning of the year. Revised figures showed consumer prices rose 0.8% in January, well below the European Central Bank's 2% target.
CRH soars on 2014 outlook
CRH climbed to the top of the leaderboard as it looked ahead to 2014, predicting it would be a year of profit growth. The gains came despite poor results in 2013, for which it blamed severe winter conditions and weaker trading in Europe. Comments from broker Jefferies, giving the stock a 'buy' rating and 1,700p price target, helped.
RSA Insurance recovered somewhat from yesterday's declines, which came after it issued a statement acknowledging recent press speculation regarding a potential rights issue and stated it was "considering" several options. Fellow insurer Admiral followed suit. The latter had its neutral rating reiterated by analysts at Credit Suisse earlier today.
Miners weighed heavily on the index, with Anglo American, Rio Tinto, Antofagasta and Fresnillo all registering big drops as concerns about China, which is the largest metals consumer in the world, dragged sentiment lower and metals prices moved into the red. Investors are concerned that Chinese lenders could be cutting back on credits to property developers.
fell sharply after the group reported a flat full-year performance in Europe, while both Japanese and Indian production fell 4%. Brokers Jefferies, Numis, Societe Generale and Investec were all upbeat about the stock, however, with all choosing to reiterate their 'buy' ratings.
On the second tier index, asset manager Ashmore was at the bottom of the pile after its first-half profits fell by a third as it counted the cost of investor wariness over emerging markets against a backdrop of the US winding down its bond-buying stimulus programme. The news prompted Canaccord to downgrade the stock to 'hold'.
Looking ahead to Wednesday
Tomorrow is set to be a busy session for earnings, with annual results due out from ITV, Petrofac, Taylor Wimpey, CSR, Weir and Direct Line.
Also on the cards is an announcement on fourth quarter UK economic growth from the Office for National Statistics, which is expected to confirm a quarter-on-quarter rise of 0.7%.
FTSE 100 - Risers
CRH (CRH) 1,788.00p +6.18%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 101.00p +3.59%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 808.50p +1.89%
William Hill (WMH) 377.30p +1.59%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,491.00p +1.43%
Sage Group (SGE) 435.50p +1.42%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 451.70p +1.39%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,955.00p +1.20%
ITV (ITV) 206.10p +1.13%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 511.00p +1.09%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Fresnillo (FRES) 967.50p -3.01%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,439.00p -2.76%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,500.50p -2.15%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 246.95p -2.12%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 914.50p -1.98%
BG Group (BG.) 1,097.50p -1.79%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,928.50p -1.61%
BAE Systems (BA.) 410.90p -1.58%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,284.50p -1.57%
Rexam (REX) 505.50p -1.46%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Essar Energy (ESSR) 71.75p +6.77%
Kentz Corporation Ltd. (KENZ) 776.50p +6.66%
St James's Place (STJ) 835.00p +5.10%
Foxtons Group (FOXT) 384.40p +4.71%
Perform Group (PER) 229.00p +4.09%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 1,550.00p +4.03%
Greencore Group (GNC) 247.00p +3.78%
Paragon Group Of Companies (PAG) 411.30p +3.63%
Hellermanntyton Group (HTY) 324.40p +3.61%
Spirent Communications (SPT) 107.10p +3.58%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 53.80p -6.92%
Ashmore Group (ASHM) 317.80p -6.53%
Lonmin (LMI) 297.30p -4.71%
Evraz (EVR) 76.45p -4.62%
Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) 54.60p -3.79%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 839.00p -3.40%
COLT Group SA (COLT) 135.40p -3.29%
Pace (PIC) 403.60p -3.21%
Rank Group (RNK) 142.30p -3.00%
Homeserve (HSV) 336.00p -2.78%