- FTSE 100 on track to close at two-month low
- Iraq situation worsens, Ukraine still in focus
- Bunzl disappoints with trading update
- Oil stocks fall, real estate gains
techMARK 2,794.32 -0.53%
FTSE 100 6,744.97 -0.62%
FTSE 250 15,458.96 -0.57%
UK stocks were firmly in the red on Wednesday as ongoing fighting in Iraq and nervousness ahead of some key US economic data kept equity bulls on the sidelines.
London's FTSE 100 had dropped 0.6% to 6,745 by midday; it has not closed under this level since April 28th when it ended at 6,700.16.
David Madden, Market Analyst from IG, said that the downwards move followed a "volatile session" on Wall Street last night where the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.7%, its worst single-day performance in more than a month.
"It was the rapidity of the move, rather than the actual percentage change, that should serve as a warning that markets are still vulnerable. Compared to what could happen if the Iraq situation really worsens, such moves are just ripples on the surface," he said.
Investors were also paring back positions ahead of another estimate of US economic growth for the first quarter which is expected to be revised substantially lower. Analysts forecast gross domestic product to show an annualised contraction of 1.8% in the first three months of 2014, compared with the previous estimate of -1%.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Syrian government warplanes carried out airstrikes on strongholds of Sunni insurgents on Tuesday evening in an effort to help Baghdad's Shiite-dominated government battle ISIS-led rebels.
The violence came as the first US troops deployed to help the Iraqi army arrived in the country yesterday. Washington has stressed that these troops are special operations soldiers who are there only to advise the Iraqis and provide intelligence, not to fight.
Developments in Ukraine were also being closely watched by markets on reports that the West is considering more sanctions against specific areas of the Russian economy, such as energy and technology.
Packaging group Bunzl fell early on despite saying that overall trading has remained consistent with expectations since its last update in April. The company said that first-half revenues were up 6% at constant exchange rates, although recent currency movements have affected reported results.
Equities in the oil-related sectors were in the red, including Tullow Oil, Petrofac and Shell. Premier Oil also fell after announcing that it has named its Finance Director Tony Durant as Chief Executive Officer after a "rigorous and comprehensive" search for candidates.
Heading the other way was Land Securities after the real estate group bought a 30% interest in Bluewater, one of the largest shopping centres in the UK. Sector peers British Land and Hammerson were also in demand.
Bid target Shire received a boost from the US courts, which blocked competitors from selling generic versions of its Vyvanse branded drug for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Newly-listed high street bank TSB was on the retreat on its first day of unconditional dealing. However the stock, at around 290p today, was still much higher than the offer price of 260p set last week.
Shares in AIM-listed Synectics, the surveillance technology and security systems group, plummeted after the company said results would be "significantly below market expectations" due to the current crisis in Iraq and other contract issues.
DIY retailer Kingfisher and engineering software firm AVEVA were both lower after going ex-dividend.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Hammerson (HMSO) 575.00p +1.23%
British Land Co (BLND) 693.50p +0.95%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 442.60p +0.68%
Friends Life Group Limited (FLG) 305.90p +0.62%
Shire Plc (SHP) 4,430.00p +0.59%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 1,038.00p +0.58%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 3,003.00p +0.50%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,462.00p +0.41%
Land Securities Group (LAND) 1,031.00p +0.29%
Diageo (DGE) 1,845.50p +0.19%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Bunzl (BNZL) 1,575.00p -3.37%
Meggitt (MGGT) 510.50p -2.85%
Experian (EXPN) 965.50p -2.52%
Carnival (CCL) 2,219.00p -2.50%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 760.50p -2.37%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 854.00p -1.95%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,430.50p -1.82%
Kingfisher (KGF) 358.30p -1.75%
Severn Trent (SVT) 1,887.00p -1.67%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 250.50p -1.65%
FTSE 250 - Risers
NMC Health (NMC) 462.30p +3.75%
Xaar (XAR) 524.50p +3.66%
Fidessa Group (FDSA) 2,202.00p +1.71%
BH Global Ltd. USD Shares (BHGU) 11.84 +1.20%
Tullett Prebon (TLPR) 254.80p +1.15%
Rank Group (RNK) 166.90p +1.15%
Northgate (NTG) 507.00p +1.10%
Interserve (IRV) 588.00p +1.03%
Partnership Assurance Group (PA.) 126.25p +1.00%
Premier Farnell (PFL) 202.00p +1.00%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Tate & Lyle (TATE) 653.50p -4.60%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 241.20p -4.10%
Bwin.party Digital Entertainment (BPTY) 91.90p -3.72%
Aveva Group (AVV) 1,992.00p -3.44%
Cineworld Group (CINE) 326.50p -3.06%
Electrocomponents (ECM) 254.20p -2.87%
Enterprise Inns (ETI) 127.00p -2.76%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 356.70p -2.75%
Premier Oil (PMO) 326.70p -2.74%
Domino's Pizza Group (DOM) 516.00p -2.64%