- Eurozone CPI above forecasts
and sterling spring higher
- ECB policy move still expected by some
techMARK 2,897.87 -0.15%
FTSE 100 6,791.71 -0.27%
FTSE 250 16,585.42 +0.38%
Stocks are holding slightly in negative territory as investors digest a surprisingly solid reading on Eurozone consumer price inflation, which saw the single currency and sterling spike higher.
In the final analysis better inflation readings are probably a good thing, although if it comes alongside currency strength it may not be immediately seen as such by some equity investors, as the list of companies referencing the negative impact of a strong sterling on the financials continues to pile up - with Pearson being a case in point today.
The top tier index was 12 points lower at 6,798.13 by noontime. Euro/dollar is now higher by 0.67% to 1.3799.
Back on a more positive note, and in apparently the same vein as the above, Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Spencer Dale said in an interview with Bloomberg that as the economy keeps growing into next year and people [on the MPC] begin to ponder when interest rates should rise "It'll be quite natural then to have greater dissent. I certainly expect to see greater dissent and I think it'll be a healthy thing."
To take note of, despite the above data economists such as those at Barclays Research or Capital Economics continue to expect the European Central bank to "make a move" at its next policy meeting.
Commenting on those latest Eurozone inflation numbers Capital Economics said: "Add in the recent further falls in liquidity in the banking sector and the likelihood of further rises in the euro in the event of inaction and we still think there is a very good chance of either a small interest rate cut or possibly even some form of quantitative easing next week."
Acting as a backdrop, overnight the benchmark S&P 500
ended the session at a record high, followed comments from Federal Reserve Chairwoman, Janet Yellen, at the Senate Banking Committee.
Yellen pointed out that a number of the economic releases in recent days indicated softer spending that may partly reflect adverse weather conditions.
"Part of that softness may reflect adverse weather conditions, but at this point it's difficult to discern exactly how much," she said.
"In the weeks and months ahead, my colleagues and I will be attentive to signals that indicate whether the recovery is progressing in line with our earlier expectations."
UK house prices rise at fastest rate seen in nearly four years
According to the Nationwide Building Society, house prices jumped 0.6% in February, marking a 9.4% year-on-year gain, the quickest rate seen in almost four years.
It was also revealed this morning that Britain's GfK Consumer Confidence reading showed sentiment in February was unchanged at -7 from the previous month, which itself was at the highest level in more than six years.
Mondi leads risers after record results
Mondi Group, the international packaging and paper company, delivered a strong rise in annual pre-tax profit, driven by low costs and exposure to higher growth markets. On a 12% rise in revenue to €6,476m, pre-tax profit leapt 36% from €368m to €499m. Basic earnings per share rose from 50.1 cents to 79.8 cents.
William Hill also moved higher despite the fact its annual pre-tax profit fell six per cent to £257m as the gaming company invested heavily in it its online offering. In an effort to keep up with the growing online market, with consumers opting to gamble on tables, computers and smartphones, the company launched mobile in new markets and took over full control of William Hill Online.
Financial services group Old Mutual climbed after revealing that its underlying activities had performed strongly in 2013. Old Mutual, which owns pension provider Skandia, unveiled adjusted operating profit of £1.6bn, similar to last year in reported currency but up 15% at constant currency.
Meanwhile, lower margins in North America and the merger between publishing houses Penguin and Random House pushed full year operating profits at Pearson six per cent lower to £871m as the company warned of a further hit on earnings in 2014. The Financial Times publisher company said 2014 earnings per share at current exchange rates
would be 62p to 67p as the pound strengthened against the dollar, adding that another £50m in restructuring costs would have to be set aside.
Ruper Soames, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Aggreko, has announced his plan to step down from the group to take up the same role at Serco Group. After 11 years at the helm, he is due to leave the company on April 24th.
The owner of British Airways and Iberia, International Airlines Group, fell sharply despite hailing the success of its turnaround strategy as it reported annual operating profit of €770m against losses of €23m a year ago.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Old Mutual (OML) 195.30p +4.89%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,077.00p +4.06%
William Hill (WMH) 388.00p +3.52%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,372.00p +1.63%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 776.50p +1.57%
Whitbread (WTB) 4,448.00p +1.16%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,245.50p +0.81%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 248.80p +0.79%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 386.40p +0.68%
BG Group (BG.) 1,095.50p +0.64%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Pearson (PSON) 1,011.00p -6.04%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,566.00p -3.93%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 435.30p -3.65%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 95.50p -2.65%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,252.50p -2.19%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 320.20p -1.96%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 233.90p -1.31%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,803.00p -1.29%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 1,481.00p -1.20%
Standard Life (SL.) 377.60p -1.10%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Serco Group (SRP) 436.30p +6.21%
Rightmove (RMV) 2,774.00p +5.68%
Man Group (EMG) 100.90p +4.99%
Renishaw (RSW) 2,120.00p +4.90%
Berendsen (BRSN) 1,040.00p +4.73%
Synthomer (SYNT) 269.20p +3.66%
UBM (UBM) 724.50p +3.50%
Premier Oil (PMO) 313.60p +3.46%
Rentokil Initial (RTO) 130.60p +3.24%
Smith (DS) (SMDS) 349.90p +2.37%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 157.20p -4.03%
Spirent Communications (SPT) 102.90p -3.56%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 283.00p -3.05%
Laird (LRD) 319.40p -2.92%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 555.00p -2.89%
Oxford Instruments (OXIG) 1,441.00p -2.70%
Evraz (EVR) 69.30p -2.46%
Polymetal International (POLY) 637.50p -1.92%
Essar Energy (ESSR) 67.20p -1.90%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 1,559.00p -1.76%