- Speculation ramps up ahead of Jackson Hole meeting
- Decent US data dampens hopes for extra stimulus
- Volatility could increase in coming weeks, says UniCredit
The FTSE 100 index experienced its third consecutive day in the red on Thursday as economic stimulus-related optimism began to fade ahead of the Jackson Hole symposium.
The meeting of central bankers in Wyoming will undoubtedly be focused on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke who was widely expected in the lead up to the event to hint at further quantitative easing, or QE3, at his speech tomorrow.
However, market analyst Michael Hewson from CMC Markets thinks that Bernanke is unlikely to announce a new raft of easing measures, especially ahead of next week's key jobs report and manufacturing data.
"The likely outcome will probably be a reiteration of the latest minutes of the FOMC [Federal Open Market Committee], just over a week ago, which states that the Fed remains prepared to act and 'that additional action would likely be warranted fairly soon', but without saying when 'soon' would be. As such any imminent action would appear to be unlikely," he said.
Today's robust economic data Stateside may have also eased the Fed's concerns about the economy, weighing down hopes of near-term easing. Initial jobless claims were unchanged last week while consumer spending was in line with expectations in July.
Economic data elsewhere was a touch gloomier: German unemployment increased for a fifth consecutive month in August, Japanese retail sales came in below expectations and South Korean manufacturers' confidence remained near its post-crisis low.
Meanwhile, European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi is being forced to miss the Jackson Hole conference due to "a heavy workload", increasing speculation that he could be putting the finishing touches to plans for strong action ahead of an ECB meeting on September 6th.
According to analysts at UniCredit this afternoon, these meetings, along with the German Constitutional Court ruling on the European Stability Mechanism on September 12th, are the important "risk" events that could potentially lead to significant volatility on markets in the next couple of weeks. "In this environment, investors are likely to adopt a cautious approach and wait for more clarity from central banks and politicians in the near term."
FTSE 100: Miners unwanted as risk is scaled back
Kazakhmys was the heavy faller in afternoon trade, leading the mining sector lower as investors turned cautious ahead of Jackson Hole. The stock was downgraded this morning by Jefferies from 'buy' to 'hold', who said that it now prefers copper peer Antofagasta. The broker explained that Kazakhmys's first-half results were "much less impressive" than Antofagasta and its 26% stake in ENRC is "not helpful".
After an initial stint in the blue, steel group Evraz fell after reporting a tough first half after it was hit by falling steel sales and prices. Sector peers Vedanta, Anglo American, BHP Billiton and Xstrata also finished the day with heavy losses.
Global advertising conglomerate WPP dropped after saying that like-for-like revenues would likely grow by 3.5% this year, under previous guidance of a 4% increase.
Barclays was under the weather after promoting Antony Jenkins, currently head of Barclays Retail and Banking, to the Chief Exec position to fill Bob Diamond's shoes. Barclays is under pressure after the Serious Fraud Office said it is investigating the lender in relation to payments made in the Middle East.
Car insurance group Admiral was also in the red despite reporting a record half-year profit and record interim dividend payment. The company noted a "marked change" in the core UK car insurance market in 2012 "premium rates falling and competitors seeking to add market share".
FTSE 250: Cape jumps in spite of "difficult period"
Shares in Cape, the provider of non-mechanical support services, rose strongly despite the group reporting a 65% drop in adjusted pre-tax profits in the first half. Nevertheless, revenues improved by 11% and the forward order book increased by £90m. CEO Joe Oatley reassured that "the core of the business is fundamentally strong."
Heading the other way was recruitment group Hays after saying that it expects the overall economic backdrop to remains "difficult" in 2013. The firm cuts its full-year dividend by more than a half due to the increasing global economic uncertainty, which slowed the pace of the profit growth.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 281.00p +1.52%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,325.00p +1.17%
Diageo (DGE) 1,742.50p +1.07%
Severn Trent (SVT) 1,756.00p +0.80%
Land Securities Group (LAND) 788.00p +0.77%
Reed Elsevier (REL) 593.50p +0.76%
Pennon Group (PNN) 744.00p +0.74%
Intertek Group (ITRK) 2,745.00p +0.73%
Imperial Tobacco Group (IMT) 2,474.00p +0.73%
Capital Shopping Centres Group (CSCG) 335.60p +0.72%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 586.50p -4.94%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,753.50p -3.44%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,842.00p -3.26%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 861.00p -3.15%
Glencore International (GLEN) 357.45p -3.00%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,162.00p -2.84%
GKN (GKN) 212.40p -2.75%
Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. (ENRC) 306.50p -2.70%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,094.00p -2.58%
Xstrata (XTA) 901.00p -2.50%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Cape (CIU) 230.00p +19.42%
Bwin.party Digital Entertainment (BPTY) 99.00p +5.94%
Kentz Corporation Ltd. (KENZ) 400.00p +4.99%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 685.50p +4.66%
Redrow (RDW) 151.00p +3.78%
Daejan Holdings (DJAN) 3,045.00p +2.49%
Dixons Retail (DXNS) 17.40p +2.35%
Dialight (DIA) 1,164.00p +2.11%
Premier Farnell (PFL) 189.90p +1.55%
Anite (AIE) 126.30p +1.28%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Bumi (BUMI) 291.80p -9.18%
Hays (HAS) 69.90p -8.81%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 159.10p -7.82%
Gem Diamonds Ltd. (DI) (GEMD) 173.10p -5.67%
Petropavlovsk (POG) 350.50p -5.55%
Aquarius Platinum Ltd. (AQP) 37.27p -5.17%
Fenner (FENR) 350.40p -4.08%
Inchcape (INCH) 365.10p -4.07%
Melrose (MRO) 233.70p -4.06%
Lonmin (LMI) 584.50p -3.87%