- Taper speculation picks up after budget deal
- Imagination Technologies drops sharply on H2 guidance
- RBS, Lloyds lead banks lower
- Defence stocks rise on US budget
techMARK 2,674.83 +0.08%
FTSE 100 6,507.72 -0.24%
FTSE 250 15,396.12 -0.10%
After a choppy session, UK markets sank into the red before the close of trade on Wednesday as investors gave a cool reaction to the budget deal Stateside, given its potential impact on the Federal Reserve's policy decision next week.
Defence stocks in London celebrated news of the budget accord today, though weakness in the banking and mining sectors and a sell-off at Imagination Technologies dragged markets lower.
The FTSE 100, which had hit an intraday high of 6,555.57 after lunchtime, finished down 15.59 points at 6,507.72.
Chief Congressional negotiators Senator Patty Murray and Representative Paul Ryan last night worked out a deal over government spending for the next two years, reducing the sequester cuts that were scheduled to take place in 2014 and 2015. The budget still needs to be passed in both the Senate and the House, with votes expected to be held in the coming days.
"This deal doesn't solve all of our problems, but I think it is an important step in helping to heal some of the wounds here in Congress," Murray said.
According to analyst Michael Gapen from Barclays, the agreement will cut the estimated drag from fiscal policy next year in half and, if passed, will give a direct boost to economic growth and "some upside risk to our forecast of 2.4% [...] in 2014".
However, Michael Hewson, Chief Market Analyst at CMC Markets, said that while on the face of it the budget deal is positive, "it does remove one obstacle to an eventual start to a possible Fed taper next week, which could be another reason why stocks are finding it difficult to rally right now".
Imagination tech plummets on cautious outlook, banks decline
The share price of chip group Imagination Technologies plummeted today after the firm said that shipment growth from its partners for the second half would be at a "slightly lower rate than previously seen", due to slowing growth in the higher-end smartphone market.
Banking and mining stocks were largely out of favour today as risk appetite was scaled back. RBS led banks lower after the surprise exit of Finance Director Nathan Bostock after just 10 weeks in the position. Meanwhile, Lloyds also fell after being fined £28m by UK regulators for "serious failings" relating to a staff bonus scheme.
Among miners, precious metals group Randgold Resources was the standout faller as the price of gold declined. Anglo American, BHP Billiton, Glencore Xstrata, Kazakhmys and Polymetal also finished down on the day.
Investors in the defence sectors breathed a sigh of relief today after the budget deal in Washington, which provides some certainty over military spending for the next two years. BAE Systems, Ultra Electronics and Cobham were all making decent gains by the close.
Oxford Instruments was a high riser after Andor Technology recommended its £176m takeover of the AIM-listed camera maker, putting concerns about a rival bid to bed.
easyJet was also flying high after the airline was upgraded by Goldman Sachs to 'conviction buy'. The bank cited the group's ability to grab market share in the short-haul market in Europe as legacy carriers restructure.
Postal group Royal Mail was being weighed down by a ratings cut by Nomura from 'neutral' to 'reduce'.
FTSE 100 - Risers
easyJet (EZJ) 1,481.00p +2.85%
BAE Systems (BA.) 426.00p +2.55%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 771.00p +1.85%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,189.00p +1.62%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 465.60p +1.53%
SSE (SSE) 1,328.00p +1.45%
BT Group (BT.A) 372.60p +1.09%
Kingfisher (KGF) 368.00p +1.04%
Whitbread (WTB) 3,510.00p +1.01%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 1,204.00p +1.01%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Mondi (MNDI) 941.00p -3.49%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 326.90p -2.91%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,051.00p -2.17%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,293.50p -1.71%
Barclays (BARC) 259.75p -1.52%
Hammerson (HMSO) 496.40p -1.51%
CRH (CRH) 1,439.00p -1.51%
Aviva (AV.) 425.70p -1.34%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,560.00p -1.33%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,213.50p -1.31%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Oxford Instruments (OXIG) 1,716.00p +9.58%
FirstGroup (FGP) 121.60p +4.83%
Essar Energy (ESSR) 70.00p +4.40%
Bank of Georgia Holdings (BGEO) 2,238.00p +3.61%
Menzies(John) (MNZS) 784.50p +3.29%
Domino's Pizza Group (DOM) 492.60p +3.05%
Stagecoach Group (SGC) 372.00p +2.82%
Ultra Electronics Holdings (ULE) 1,879.00p +2.62%
Wetherspoon (J.D.) (JDW) 733.00p +2.30%
Supergroup (SGP) 1,254.00p +2.28%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 190.00p -23.69%
Soco International (SIA) 384.60p -4.68%
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 19.00p -3.94%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 43.25p -3.50%
Bwin.party Digital Entertainment (BPTY) 114.60p -3.37%
Polymetal International (POLY) 496.90p -3.33%
PZ Cussons (PZC) 367.70p -3.26%
Investec (INVP) 409.30p -3.10%
Dialight (DIA) 822.00p -2.72%
Kentz Corporation Ltd. (KENZ) 629.00p -2.71%