- FTSE climbs 30 points by lunchtime
- Strong start expected in US
- MP proposes cap on fees charged on workplace pensions
techMARK 2,665.16 +0.34%
FTSE 100 6,805.82 +0.46%
FTSE 250 15,577.12 +0.27%
The FTSE continued to power higher throughout the morning, with a gain of 30 points on the top tier index led by retailer Next ahead of what looks set to be a positive start on Wall Street.
Stock futures are looking very much positive over in the US, as investors await the outcome of today's Federal Reserve meeting. The Fed is expected to announce that it will maintain its $85bn in monthly asset purchases and keep the interest rate at 0.25% after the two-day meeting wraps.
Acting as a backdrop will be the release of inflation figures for September. The US consumer price index (CPI) is expected to fall to 1.2% year-on-year last month from 1.5% in August.
Back on this side of the Atlantic, the so-called 'Big Six' energy firms have been charged with behaving like a "chorus line acting in concert", it was revealed today, after they faced tough questioning on recent hefty price rises of around 10% from MPs. In a damning report by regulator Ofgem, it was revealed that wholesale electricity costs actually fell over the past three years, but some companies still increased prices for customers.
UK Pensions Minister Steve Webb has proposed a cap on the level of fees charged on workplace pensions in a 'full frontal assault' on the pensions industry. The Liberal Democrat minister has suggested that fees charged by pensions providers on auto-enrolment workplace pension schemes should be capped at 0.75%, lower than the 1% originally pencilled in and some existing fees that top 2%.
Supermarket heavyweights Sainsbury and Tesco are set to go head-to-head in a battle over the latter's Price Promise campaign. Sainsbury has called for a judicial review after its complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority about Tesco's "misleading" campaign was rejected.
Positive data from Europe
Data published on Wednesday showed that the unemployment rate in Germany remained steady in October after hitting a one-year high the previous month.
Specifically, the jobless rate remained unchanged at 6.9% as expected by the consensus.
Over in Spain, data revealed the economy has officially ended its two-year recession after posting 0.1% GDP growth in the July-September quarter, having registered a contraction in prior nine consecutive quarters.
Eurozone confidence data showed improvement across the board in October with the single exception of sentiment in the services sector, according to data published today by the European Commission.
The economic sentiment indicator increased by 0.9 points to 97.8, beating the consensus estimate for a rise to 97.3. However, the European Commission did warn that despite the continuation of the upward trend that began in May, "the magnitude and sectoral scope of the improvement in confidence has moderated compared to recent months".
Next continues to impress with jump in Q3 sales
High Street clothing and homeware retailer Next topped the leader board after it reported an increase in third quarter sales, despite ongoing trading volatility, as it upwardly revised its earnings forecasts for the full year. Next Brand sales in the third quarter rose 4.3% after Next Directory jumped 10.7% and Next Retail rose 0.4%.
Banking group Barclays posted a strong rise in its nine-month pre-tax profits from £962m to £2.85bn, while its mis-sold personal protection insurance (PPI) pay-outs were steady at £3.95bn.
Oilfield service provider Petrofac was also higher after it won a share of a $650m contract to provide engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services for the Algerian government. The group is leading a partnership with Italian contractor Bonatti to provide a 32-month contract to extend the life of the Alrar gas field in south east Algeria for Sonatrach, the Algerian state-owned resources company.
Meanwhile, strong momentum in the UK saw pensions and savings provider Standard Life boast of continued third-quarter strong growth in assets under management but it was not enough to hit analysts' expectations. The above news about a cap on auto-enrolment workplace pension scheme charges also weighed on the stock.
Sales slowed in constant currencies at Pearson in the third quarter but the publisher remained on track to hit its full year earnings targets. Although the Financial Times owner saw 4% sales growth in the first nine months at constant currencies, down from 5% in the first half of the year, but on an underlying basis it remained at 2%.
Standard Chartered shares
were also retreating, with investors taking profits one day after the company reported a slight increase in operating profit for the year-to-date due to tight cost controls. In a trading update for the nine months ended September 30th, the financial services company said it delivered a strong performance despite an uncertain market environment.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Next (NXT) 5,440.00p +4.51%
Experian (EXPN) 1,273.00p +3.50%
Barclays (BARC) 274.40p +3.14%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 1,018.00p +2.72%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,502.00p +2.32%
GKN (GKN) 371.60p +2.26%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 495.50p +2.04%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,842.00p +1.66%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,610.00p +1.64%
Kingfisher (KGF) 380.90p +1.55%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Standard Life (SL.) 356.50p -3.44%
Pearson (PSON) 1,320.00p -3.30%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,509.50p -2.20%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) 1,652.00p -1.14%
Schroders (SDR) 2,653.00p -0.93%
Tate & Lyle (TATE) 791.50p -0.81%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,011.00p -0.79%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 127.90p -0.70%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 1,154.00p -0.52%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 4,833.00p -0.49%
FTSE 250 - Risers
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 186.30p +9.52%
Menzies(John) (MNZS) 811.50p +2.59%
Stagecoach Group (SGC) 351.30p +2.36%
Debenhams (DEB) 101.30p +2.32%
Thomas Cook Group (TCG) 141.60p +2.31%
Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) 400.50p +2.30%
Keller Group (KLR) 1,047.00p +2.15%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 439.70p +2.14%
Paragon Group Of Companies (PAG) 337.10p +2.09%
Howden Joinery Group (HWDN) 324.10p +2.05%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 20.06p -4.93%
NMC Health (NMC) 353.90p -3.57%
Go-Ahead Group (GOG) 1,690.00p -2.76%
KCOM Group (KCOM) 98.60p -2.76%
IP Group (IPO) 150.70p -2.14%
Countrywide (CWD) 559.00p -1.93%
COLT Group SA (COLT) 123.70p -1.83%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 50.50p -1.75%
Genus (GNS) 1,298.00p -1.67%
Xaar (XAR) 804.50p -1.65%
FTSE TechMARK - Risers
Anite (AIE) 91.00p +2.82%
Puricore (PURI) 48.00p +2.13%
Triad Group (TRD) 14.50p +1.75%
Torotrak (TRK) 28.00p +1.36%
Consort Medical (CSRT) 888.00p +0.74%
Wolfson Microelectronics (WLF) 143.50p +0.70%
Kofax (KFX) 377.50p +0.67%
Skyepharma (SKP) 96.00p +0.52%
Gov Bond 7-10YR UCITS ETF (IEGM) € 179.16 +0.15%
Ricardo (RCDO) 602.00p +0.08%
FTSE TechMARK - Fallers
Microgen (MCGN) 120.75p -5.29%
NCC Group (NCC) 158.00p -2.32%
XP Power Ltd. (DI) (XPP) 1,570.00p -2.18%
Vislink (VLK) 49.25p -1.75%
Innovation Group (TIG) 31.75p -0.78%
Sepura (SEPU) 146.00p -0.68%
Optos (OPTS) 156.25p -0.48%
SDL (SDL) 254.50p -0.29%