- AstraZeneca drops after rejecting 'final proposal' from Pfizer
- Chinese housing concerns weigh on sentiment
- Carney comments, Ukraine elections in focus
techMARK 2,710.83 -1.26%
FTSE 100 6,827.22 -0.42%
FTSE 250 15,427.14 +0.19%
UK stocks were firmly in the red on Monday as investors kicked off the new trading week in a cautious manner, triggered by concerns over a slowdown in China and heavy falls in pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.
AstraZeneca was trading 13% lower by noon after it rejected a "final proposal" from US rival Pfizer which valued the London-listed group at £69bn.
The FTSE 100 was trading 0.4% lower at 6,827 by midday as the index continued to pull back after hitting a 14-year closing high of 6,878.49 last week.
Stocks tracked a weak performance in Asian markets overnight after a report on the Chinese real estate sector revealed property prices dropped last month.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, eight of the country's cities saw a monthly decline in the average commercial house price, compared to the four which saw a fall in March.
"The worry here for market participants is that with the housing market driving the advances in China's economy over the years, a housing slowdown triggers a wider concern that the economy may now be in full-swing slowdown mode and there seems little resolve by policymakers in the country to act just yet, accepting that weakness is warranted as the government transitions China," said Market Strategist Ishaq Siddiqi from ETX Capital.
Comments from Bank of England Governor Mark Carney were also in focus after he expressed concerns about the UK housing market over the weekend. He said that rising house prices pose the biggest risk to the UK recovery and suggested that the government's Help-to-Buy scheme may need to be adjusted.
Meanwhile, investors were looking ahead to Sunday's Presidential elections in Ukraine. Any delay or failure could trigger so-called "stage three" sanctions co-ordinated with the US, according to analysts at Barclays Research. This could push Russia into a severe recession and lead to retaliatory moves.
AstraZeneca plummets after rejecting Pfizer's last-ditch attempt
Shares in AstraZeneca sank sharply after the board rejected a sweetened £55-a-share bid from Pfizer. The new offer was only a "minor improvement" on previous proposals, according to Chairman Leif Johansson.
Pfizer said this was a "final proposal" and would not be increasing it any further. It said it would not pursue a hostile offer and would only announce another offer with the recommendation of AstraZeneca's board.
Mining stocks were mostly lower this morning on China slowdown fears with Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton among the worst performers. A reduction in risk appetite also hit a number of financials, including banking peers Barclays and Lloyds.
RBS also fell after cautious comments from Credit Suisse. While the Swiss broker raised its target price for the stock, it kept an 'underperform' rating on valuation grounds.
easyJet and IAG were flying higher on positive read across from figures out from airline peer Ryanair. The Dublin-based group posted a less-than-expected 8% drop in annual profits and forecast a strong first half of the new financial year.
Specialty chemicals group Alent gained strongly after maintaining its outlook for the full year despite adverse currency movements. The company said that trading since the start of 2014 has been in line with expectations with a "slight increase in demand" being noted across the main electronics and automotive end-markets.
FTSE 100 - Risers
easyJet (EZJ) 1,557.00p +2.70%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,017.00p +2.21%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 3,278.00p +1.99%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 862.00p +1.41%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 363.10p +1.34%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 423.10p +1.32%
Meggitt (MGGT) 468.00p +1.21%
Compass Group (CPG) 1,002.00p +1.16%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 854.50p +1.12%
St James's Place (STJ) 747.50p +1.08%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
AstraZeneca (AZN) 4,202.50p -12.87%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,147.00p -2.22%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,224.00p -1.90%
Barclays (BARC) 237.55p -1.66%
Experian (EXPN) 1,027.00p -1.25%
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) 1,623.50p -1.22%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 343.50p -1.21%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,930.00p -1.18%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,610.00p -1.17%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 214.90p -1.04%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 809.00p +3.98%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 186.60p +3.04%
Alent (ALNT) 311.20p +2.94%
Redrow (RDW) 271.10p +2.69%
Keller Group (KLR) 962.50p +2.61%
Perform Group (PER) 261.60p +2.59%
Carphone Warehouse Group (CPW) 297.30p +2.52%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 257.00p +2.51%
Dixons Retail (DXNS) 45.06p +2.50%
IP Group (IPO) 168.50p +2.06%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Supergroup (SGP) 988.00p -3.52%
Bank of Georgia Holdings (BGEO) 2,405.00p -3.41%
Ted Baker (TED) 1,709.00p -3.06%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 209.60p -2.87%
Evraz (EVR) 97.30p -2.80%
Countrywide (CWD) 537.50p -2.71%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 138.80p -2.39%
Foxtons Group (FOXT) 291.60p -2.38%
Aberforth Smaller Companies Trust (ASL) 1,096.00p -2.14%
Lonmin (LMI) 242.80p -2.10%