- Stocks down ahead of Fed meeting next week
- FTSE 100 hits fresh two-month low
- RSA plummets after profit warning, CEO exit
- ARM gains on Google hopes
techMARK 2,663.70 +0.42%
FTSE 100 6,439.96 -0.08%
FTSE 250 15,233.46 +0.14%
UK stocks finished broadly flat on Friday after a quiet session as investors refrained from building positions ahead of a busy week for financial markets next week.
Nevertheless, markets still closed down for the fourth straight day, falling to a fresh two-month low.
This comes ahead of the highly-anticipated Federal Reserve policy meeting on December 17-18th as speculation continues to ramp up surrounding an impending tapering of stimulus by the central bank.
The FTSE 100 ended just 5.29 points lower at 6,439.96 - its lowest level since October 10th - with just 26 points separating its intraday high (6,462) and low (6,436).
This tentative mood comes after a bipartisan US budget was passed by the House of Representatives last night at a wide margin (332 to 94), easing the fiscal uncertainty that has weighed on markets in recent months. The deal is expected to sail through the Senate next week, putting an end to three years of spending battles that brought the government to near-collapse.
"A lot of things have fallen into place and past week's budget deal in the US Congress was yet another factor speaking in favour of Fed tapering soon," said analysts at Danske Bank in a note to clients.
They believe the Fed will begin to scale back its stimulus programme next week but expects the central bank to balance a taper with stronger forward guidance in an effort to leave overall financial conditions unchanged.
"In contrast with what happened over the summer the market now seems very much prepared for Fed tapering," Danske Bank said.
RSA plummets after profit warning, CEO exit
RSA Insurance fell sharply today after lowering its 2013 earnings forecast after identifying issues in its Irish business and experiencing adverse weather in Europe. At the same time the group announced the resignation of Group Chief Executive Simon Lee with immediate effect. The stock finished down around 7%, recovering slightly after an 18% slump in morning trade.
Chip designer ARM Holdings was heading higher on reports that US internet giant Google is looking at using its technology to design its own server processors.
Temporary power generation giant Aggreko was very much in the red after Numis Securities reiterated its 'sell' rating and cut its target price for the stock. Analyst said that the shares
are fully valued, trading at 20 times 2014 earnings.
Airline groups easyJet and IAG were on the up after the International Air Transport Association upgraded its profit forecast for the global airline industry for 2014.
Perform Group was rising strongly, albeit after a 58% sell-off on Thursday. The digital sports media firm warned yesterday that full-year revenues would be under previous expectations, pushing earnings "significantly" below forecasts.
Oil and gas producers such as BP and Shell finished lower after UBS said it is "remaining cautious" on the outlook for the industry next year. The bank said it sees "little reason for the European oil and gas sector to reverse its underperformance of 2012 and 2013".
FTSE 100 - Risers
Sports Direct International (SPD) 702.00p +4.15%
BAE Systems (BA.) 434.00p +3.11%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 1,001.00p +2.98%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 804.00p +2.03%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 456.10p +1.94%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 3,964.00p +1.75%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 3,518.50p +1.75%
ITV (ITV) 182.60p +1.61%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,285.00p +1.50%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,474.00p +1.45%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 92.50p -7.22%
Experian (EXPN) 1,073.00p -2.28%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,516.00p -2.19%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 1,610.00p -1.47%
BP (BP.) 465.70p -1.07%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 2,155.00p -0.99%
Barclays (BARC) 251.45p -0.98%
Weir Group (WEIR) 2,056.00p -0.92%
Smiths Group (SMIN) 1,367.00p -0.87%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 226.65p -0.87%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Perform Group (PER) 215.00p +19.44%
Fidessa Group (FDSA) 2,275.00p +3.03%
Diploma (DPLM) 717.50p +2.94%
Carpetright (CPR) 534.00p +2.59%
Beazley (BEZ) 252.10p +2.56%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 729.00p +2.53%
Cobham (COB) 265.90p +2.27%
Redrow (RDW) 281.00p +2.26%
Home Retail Group (HOME) 189.70p +2.21%
Hays (HAS) 118.80p +2.06%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Partnership Assurance Group (PA.) 274.30p -7.27%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 191.00p -7.24%
Pace (PIC) 288.70p -5.62%
AL Noor Hospitals Group (ANH) 921.00p -4.66%
Xaar (XAR) 1,111.00p -4.39%
Thomas Cook Group (TCG) 162.30p -3.22%
Ophir Energy (OPHR) 302.60p -2.76%
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 19.13p -2.75%
Petra Diamonds Ltd.(DI) (PDL) 111.00p -1.86%
Bwin.party Digital Entertainment (BPTY) 115.00p -1.79%