- FTSE closes down 23.22 at 6,689.45
- China registers surprise trade deficit
- Japan GDP revised lower
- BCC increases growth forecast
techMARK 2,845.16 -0.52%
FTSE 100 6,689.45 -0.35%
FTSE 250 16,451.20 -0.65%
It was a negative finish for the FTSE today, dragged lower by miners on the back of poor Chinese data, although gains were partially offset by a strong performance by Rolls-Royce and British American Tobacco.
The top tier index closed down 23.22 points at 6,689.45.
China registers surprise trade deficit, Japanese GDP revised lower
Markets across Asia fell overnight after China's trade balance fell to a deficit of $22.98bn in February, compared with a revised surplus of $32.87bn in January and expectations for a surplus of $14.5bn.
This was China's first trade deficit in 11 months and comes after exports slumped at an annual rate of 18.1%, though analysts believe this largely reflects seasonal factors such as the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, during which many factories remained shut. Imports grew by a slightly stronger-than-forecast 10.1% during the month.
Other data also showed that the annual rate of Chinese consumer price inflation fell to a 13-month low of 2% in February, down from 2.5% the month before and below forecasts.
Over in Japan, revised government figures revealed that Japanese gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by just 0.7% on an annualised basis in the final three months of last year, down from the initial estimate of 1% growth.
Meanwhile, the current account deficit hit a record 1.5trn yen (around £8.7bn) in January, which comes ahead of a planned tax increase on sales next month - a move that had been expected to prompt higher spending in the lead up to it.
Public sector pay soars above private
In UK news today, it was revealed that public sector pay has risen above private sector pay, with workers in the former paid an average 14.5% more, according to the Office of National Statistics.
It said: "Average pay levels vary between the public and private sectors because of the different jobs and characteristics of the people within each sector. The average pay difference in favour of the public sector has narrowed since the year 2010, which in part reflects the restraints on public sector pay over this period."
BCC predicts Q2 growth to exceed early-2008 levels
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has forecast an increase in the size of the UK economy that will take it above the levels seen in early 2008.
It predicted economic growth for the year would be 2.8%, 0.1% higher than its previous estimate.
Meanwhile, in another interesting report out today, it was claimed that although the UK economy is set to outstrip pre-recession growth levels this year, it could falter unless the country embraces immigrant workers to ease a shortage of home-grown talent.
The economy, which is currently growing at about 0.7%, is set to surpass mid-2008 levels of economic growth of about 2.1% by July this year, the Business Trends report by accountants and business advisers BDO said.
However, it also waded into the controversy over immigration in the UK by warning that a skills shortage could worsen unless the country becomes more positive about migrant workers.
Rolls-Royce jumps on Daimler JV deal, broker comments
Rolls Royce was in the top spot today after a host of analysts lifted their target prices following the engine group's move last week to buy-out Daimler in their 50-50 joint venture, Rolls-Royce Power Systems (RRPS). After the close of trade on Friday, Rolls-Royce said that it is to buy the remaining 50% stake in RRPS for £1.9bn. RRPS was formed in 2011 after Rolls-Royce and Daimler bought German engine maker Tognum.
Tobacco giant British American was benefitting from comments from Citigroup, which added the stock to its 'Focus List'.
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) was also higher after it increased its stake in its pharmaceuticals subsidiary in India from 50.7% to 75% following an open offer. The transaction was valued at approximately £625m. The group said the move would increase its exposure to a "strategically important market".
At the other end of the index, Persimmon was firmly in the red, most likely due to readacross from sector peer Taylor Wimpey which Numis Securities downgraded from 'add' to 'hold'.
Mining stocks were also in the red as investors digested economic data from Asia. Fresnillo, Glenore Xstrata, Anglo American, Antofagasta and Rio Tinto were all trading lower by the close.
Looking ahead to Tuesday
Tomorrow's agenda includes economic data releases on UK industrial and manufacturing production, UK gross domestic product estimates and German trade balance.
Company wise, car dealership Inchcape is expected to unveil record annual results, with Numis predicting pre-tax profit of £268m, up 8.5% from £247m in 2012, driven by a strong second half.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 1,043.00p +1.66%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,340.50p +1.54%
Bunzl (BNZL) 1,597.00p +1.46%
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) 1,672.50p +1.15%
SABMiller (SAB) 2,924.00p +1.11%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 795.50p +1.08%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 2,193.00p +1.01%
Tate & Lyle (TATE) 642.50p +0.94%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 2,342.50p +0.90%
Centrica (CNA) 327.40p +0.86%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Persimmon (PSN) 1,329.00p -4.59%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 230.10p -3.58%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,357.00p -3.42%
Fresnillo (FRES) 896.00p -3.40%
Pearson (PSON) 1,022.00p -3.04%
WPP (WPP) 1,221.00p -2.86%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,556.00p -2.75%
Barclays (BARC) 242.00p -2.56%
Glencore Xstrata (GLEN) 317.00p -2.42%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,641.00p -2.38%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Computacenter (CCC) 718.50p +4.28%
Partnership Assurance Group (PA.) 345.10p +3.73%
COLT Group SA (COLT) 144.90p +3.50%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 308.10p +3.18%
Bank of Georgia Holdings (BGEO) 2,369.00p +3.00%
Pace (PIC) 458.60p +2.99%
Renishaw (RSW) 2,130.00p +2.85%
Pennon Group (PNN) 752.00p +2.17%
Savills (SVS) 610.50p +2.00%
Beazley (BEZ) 262.60p +1.74%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Evraz (EVR) 60.00p -5.73%
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 15.27p -4.56%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 430.30p -4.02%
Essar Energy (ESSR) 69.40p -3.94%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 166.30p -3.93%
Keller Group (KLR) 1,035.00p -3.72%
Bovis Homes Group (BVS) 880.50p -3.51%
BlackRock World Mining Trust (BRWM) 464.80p -3.37%
Greencore Group (GNC) 291.00p -3.32%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 137.00p -3.25%