- ITV leads fallers after underwhelming Q1
- Markets pull back from highest level since 1999
- BoE strikes dovish tone in Inflation Report
- Compass, Mondi rise strongly after updates
techMARK 2,797.20 -0.25%
FTSE 100 6,862.96 -0.15%
FTSE 250 16,008.81 -0.19%
UK stocks were in negative territory on Wednesday as the FTSE 100 retreated from a 14-year high the previous session, with ITV leading the decline after it underwhelmed with a trading update.
London's benchmark index was down 0.15% at 6,863 by midday after hitting 6,873.08 on Tuesday, its best finish since reaching a record closing high of 6,930 at the end of December 1999.
"Although upward progress has stalled for the moment, with 6,850 behind, it seems the index is finally about to break out of the trading range that has held it in check for the past few months," said Brenda Kelly, Chief Market Strategist at IG.
Despite the slight pull-back this morning, losses were trimmed slightly after the Bank of England struck a dovish tone in its Inflation Report as it attempted to quell expectations for the first rate rise.
Governor Mark Carney said the central bank is still in no rush to tighten policy with "significant slack remain[ing] in the labour market". He said while the economy has "edged closer" to the point at which the Bank Rate will need to gradually rise, the decision "will depend on the evolution of the economy, particularly the degree of slack, the prospects for its absorption, and the broader inflation outlook".
Investors were also reacting to mixed economic data from the UK this morning. The Office for National Statistics reported that the UK unemployment rate fell from 6.9% to 6.8% in the three months to March, as expected by analysts; however, average weekly earnings growth remained subdued at just 1.7%, below forecasts.
ITV slumps after underwhelming Q1
Television network ITV fell sharply despite a seemingly in-line first-quarter statement with total external revenues up 2%. Analyst Steve Liechti from Investec said that the update "looks OK [with ad revenues] more or less as we expected", but "some bulls may have wanted more". The stock was down over 5% by midday.
In contrast, catering giant Compass rose strongly as the company hiked its interim dividend after a solid first half and unveiled a £1bn capital return to investors. "Strong cash generation has underpinned our investment in the business and our commitment to reward shareholders," said Chief Executive Richard Cousins.
Paper and packaging group Mondi was also higher after delivering a 13% increase in underlying operating profits in the first quarter despite a "mixed" trading environment and flat sales volumes.
UK car insurer Admiral declined after reporting a 7% drop in first-quarter revenue as premiums continued to fall.
On the second-tier FTSE 250, 3i Group, Partnership Assurance, Galliford Try, Wood Group and UDG Healthcare were all performing well after impressing with trading updates.
Renishaw, however, declined after the engineering group said third-quarter profits were hit by currency movements.
A number of heavyweight stocks were trading lower after going ex-dividend, including Aberdeen Asset Management, GlaxoSmithKline, Shell, Glencore Xstrata, Kingfisher and J Sainsbury.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Mondi (MNDI) 1,064.00p +3.20%
Compass Group (CPG) 1,011.00p +3.11%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,710.00p +1.73%
IMI (IMI) 1,591.00p +1.73%
Experian (EXPN) 1,077.00p +1.13%
Royal Mail (RMG) 572.00p +1.06%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 487.80p +0.97%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,674.00p +0.96%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 616.40p +0.88%
Old Mutual (OML) 209.90p +0.82%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
ITV (ITV) 180.80p -5.34%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 327.00p -3.54%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 422.60p -2.96%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 838.50p -2.39%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 377.70p -2.23%
Kingfisher (KGF) 409.20p -1.99%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,383.00p -1.50%
Barclays (BARC) 251.55p -1.49%
Glencore Xstrata (GLEN) 325.80p -1.47%
BG Group (BG.) 1,253.00p -1.26%
FTSE 250 - Risers
3i Group (III) 397.30p +5.02%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 207.00p +4.39%
Partnership Assurance Group (PA.) 129.00p +3.86%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 790.00p +2.66%
Galliford Try (GFRD) 1,212.00p +2.45%
St. Modwen Properties (SMP) 381.30p +2.23%
Booker Group (BOK) 153.70p +2.19%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 1,737.00p +2.00%
UDG Healthcare Public Limited Company (UDG) 366.70p +1.86%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 233.90p +1.70%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Renishaw (RSW) 1,729.00p -5.98%
Carillion (CLLN) 354.80p -3.38%
Supergroup (SGP) 1,074.00p -3.24%
COLT Group SA (COLT) 140.20p -2.84%
Berkeley Group Holdings (The) (BKG) 2,332.00p -2.83%
Alent (ALNT) 319.70p -2.80%
Bank of Georgia Holdings (BGEO) 2,438.00p -2.48%
Thomas Cook Group (TCG) 179.10p -2.24%
Fidessa Group (FDSA) 2,297.00p -2.05%
Bellway (BWY) 1,461.00p -1.95%