- Stocks start lower, ITV falls despite strong results
- German consumer confidence surprises on the upside
- Weir, miners lead the gains
techMARK 2,900.54 -0.09%
FTSE 100 6,809.08 -0.34%
FTSE 250 16,486.31 -0.25%
UK stocks were holding modestly in negative territory come midday, weighed by ex-dividends, a surprise fall by ITV, as well as choppy sessions in both the US and Asia overnight.
The FTSE 100 fell 22 points to 6,809 early on.
That came despite assurances from China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange that investors should not read too much into recent volatility in the yuan. Some investors were worried that increased hostility on the part of China towards 'hot' capital flows betting on the currency's strength might have an undue impact on Chinese construction activity and, hence, some international commodity prices - such as industrial metals.
British gross domestic product expanded at a 0.7% quarter-on-quarter pace during the last three months of 2013, led by a strong 2.4% increase in gross capital formation. That is an early sign that the recovery is broadening out, Unicredit Research wrote to clients.
Earlier in the day the Bank of England's David Miles told the BBC that next year might be the right time for an increase in rates but "it is difficult to predict in advance", That is as opposed to comments from some of his peers to the effect that such expectations are "reasonable".
Capital markets continue to enjoy robust health if AO World's stock market debut is anything to go by.
The UK online appliances seller's shares
rocketed 45% on their first day of trading.
German consumer confidence comes in better-than-expected
German consumer confidence was released this morning, registering a surprise lift to its highest level since January 2007.
The GfK March survey showed German consumer confidence rose to 8.5 points from the prior revised 8.3, surprising the consensus that had expected no changes to February's initial reading of 8.2.
As an aside,Credit Suisse still sees scope for further policy stimulus from the European Central Bank at its next meeting, although it admits it is a "close call".
This afternoon will see the release of new home sale figures in the US, in what will otherwise be a quiet session Stateside.
Ofgem tackles lack of competition between energy companies
The finances of the "big six" energy companies will be given further scrutiny following industry regulator Ofgem's new measures announced this morning. The firms have been told they must publish wholesale power prices two years in advance.
Weir rises on strong 2014 outlook
Engineering solutions provider Weir rose strongly after posting an in-line set of full-year results on Wednesday, as a positive performance by the Minerals division helped to offset a "challenging" year for the group. The group also said that in 2014 it anticipates a return to underlying growth, despite mixed end market conditions.
Mining stocks were erasing some of yesterday's heavy losses, with Fresnillo and Randgold both moving higher early on. The former was performing particularly well after it announced that a debilitating suspension on the use of explosives at its key Herradura mining operation has been lifted.
Likewise, GKN moved back into positive territory after falling sharply on Tuesday after the group reported a flat full-year performance in Europe, while both Japanese and Indian production fell 4%.
Leading the downside was easyJet, which fell after the stock went ex-dividend.
ITV was lower despite a strong set of full-year results, which saw it boost its dividend and announce an additional special pay-out to shareholders. Broker Jefferies was upbeat on the stock, saying "ITV remains our key European Media pick for 2014", rating it a 'buy' with a price taget of 231p.
In unlisted company news, the Co-op Group is set to report much bigger than anticipated losses for 2013 next month. BBC Business Editor, Robert Peston, revealed the results would be "by far the worst in its history", saying he understood the group was planning to sell its farming operation and potentially also its pharmacies.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Weir Group (WEIR) 2,518.00p +7.06%
Wolseley (WOS) 3,427.00p +0.94%
Resolution Ltd. (RSL) 380.00p +0.90%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 455.70p +0.89%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 984.00p +0.87%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,060.00p +0.86%
Imperial Tobacco Group (IMT) 2,430.00p +0.79%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 921.50p +0.77%
SABMiller (SAB) 2,889.50p +0.71%
GKN (GKN) 413.40p +0.66%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
easyJet (EZJ) 1,687.00p -4.74%
Tesco (TSCO) 321.25p -4.16%
ITV (ITV) 198.90p -3.49%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,454.00p -2.48%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,437.00p -1.78%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,929.00p -1.73%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 344.20p -1.69%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 776.00p -1.59%
Kingfisher (KGF) 391.10p -1.59%
Barclays (BARC) 253.90p -1.55%
FTSE 250 - Risers
International Personal Finance (IPF) 540.00p +7.14%
CSR (CSR) 722.50p +6.48%
Greencore Group (GNC) 257.50p +4.25%
Ladbrokes (LAD) 160.50p +3.82%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 55.65p +3.44%
St James's Place (STJ) 857.50p +2.69%
Pace (PIC) 412.80p +2.28%
Direct Line Insurance Group (DLG) 266.80p +2.22%
Stagecoach Group (SGC) 389.40p +1.99%
Rotork (ROR) 2,686.00p +1.78%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Beazley (BEZ) 257.30p -7.58%
Essar Energy (ESSR) 67.75p -5.57%
Playtech (PTEC) 795.50p -4.90%
St. Modwen Properties (SMP) 390.50p -4.41%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 123.00p -3.83%
Kentz Corporation Ltd. (KENZ) 749.00p -3.54%
Brewin Dolphin Holdings (BRW) 323.40p -3.06%
Dunelm Group (DNLM) 966.00p -2.72%
Hellermanntyton Group (HTY) 316.00p -2.59%
Capital & Counties Properties (CAPC) 382.60p -2.40%
FTSE TechMARK - Risers
Sarossa Capital (SRC) 1.75p +12.18%
Phoenix IT Group (PNX) 122.00p +2.31%
Dialight (DIA) 801.50p +2.23%
Kofax Limited (DI) (KFX) 480.00p +1.91%
Promethean World (PRW) 38.25p +1.66%
E2V Technologies (E2V) 166.06p +0.34%
Ricardo (RCDO) 720.50p +0.07%
Gov Bond 7-10YR UCITS ETF (IEGM) € 183.78 +0.01%
FTSE TechMARK - Fallers
Wolfson Microelectronics (WLF) 121.00p -3.20%
NCC Group (NCC) 210.50p -2.77%
Sepura (SEPU) 141.00p -2.08%
BATM Advanced Communications Ltd. (BVC) 15.50p -1.59%
Optos (OPTS) 206.75p -1.43%
Anite (AIE) 85.75p -0.87%
SDL (SDL) 376.25p -0.86%
Oxford Biomedica (OXB) 3.10p -0.80%
Consort Medical (CSRT) 1,040.00p -0.76%
Innovation Group (TIG) 34.75p -0.71%