- Lloyds, BSkyB, BG Group and Schroders gain
- UK manufacturing activity at five-month high
- Fed sticks with taper despite weak Q1 growth
techMARK 2,774.45 -0.22%
FTSE 100 6,797.46 +0.26%
FTSE 250 15,812.19 -0.03%
Well-received updates from Lloyds, BSkyB, BG Group and Schroders and upbeat UK manufacturing data gave sentiment a lift on Thursday, as London stocks rose to levels not seen in nearly two months.
The FTSE 100 was trading 0.3% higher at 6,797 by midday, teetering around the 6,800 level for most of the morning. The index has not closed above this mark since March 4th.
Stocks were tracking gains made on Wall Street on Wednesday after the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a record high as the Federal Open Market Committee chose to continue reducing its quantitative easing programme by a further $10bn a month, as was widely expected.
The decision came despite figures yesterday showing that the US economy almost stagnated in the first quarter, expanding by just 0.1% on an annualised rate.
"Investors instead chose to focus on more recent positive economic data, and an upbeat Fed statement, which appeared to show a confidence that the US economy would enjoy a strong bounce back in the second quarter," said Michael Hewson, Chief Market Analyst at CMC Markets UK.
Economic data n focus
In economic data this morning, the UK manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) rose to a five-month high of 57.3 in April. This was up from 55.8 in March and ahead of the consensus forecast of 55.4, driven by increases in output and new orders.
In China, the government's manufacturing PMI increased to 50.4 last month from 50.3 in March, but under the estimate of 50.5.
Investors were also awaiting a flurry of US economic data later on, including jobless claims, personal spending and manufacturing indicators, ahead of the all-important non-farm payrolls figure tomorrow.
Lloyds, BSkyB, BG Group and Schroders gain
Domestic lender Lloyds rose after saying that underlying profits rose 22% in the first quarter, helped by a rise in net interest income as well as a fall in costs and a drop in impairment charges. The company also said it plans to float at least 25% of its TSB business at the end of June.
Earnings fell 2.4% at BSkyB in the third quarter despite a rise in revenues, but continued investment in connected television services was repaid with better-than-expected new subscriptions, pushing shares
higher this morning.
Profits at oil and gas company BG Group declined in the first quarter despite higher revenues, as lower production volumes and higher costs ate into the bottom line. However, the stock was performing well this morning as it bounced back after weakness earlier in the week following the surprise exit of its Chief Executive.
Fund manager Schroders was also higher as it reported record assets under management in the first quarter, helped by £3.8bn of net new business wins during the period.
Heading the other way was engine maker Rolls-Royce after saying that full-year revenues and profits are likely to be hit by foreign exchange
headwinds with underlying results flat.
Scottish engineering group Weir failed to excite as it said trading in the last four months has been in line with expectations. Numis Securities downgraded its rating for Weir from 'add' to 'hold', saying that it sees little upside after the stock's recent strong run.
James Fisher and Sons, which provides marine services to a range of industries, jumped after giving an upbeat outlook for 2014, saying it expects "further growth".
Outsourcing group Serco dropped after a late announcement late last night which said it plans to raise £170m from an emergency placing to strengthen its balance sheet. The company slashed its guidance for earnings per share by 37% this year.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 79.04p +4.88%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 911.50p +3.58%
BG Group (BG.) 1,234.50p +3.05%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 307.90p +3.05%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,205.00p +2.99%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,624.00p +2.98%
Schroders (SDR) 2,618.00p +2.43%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 4,880.00p +2.20%
ITV (ITV) 185.10p +1.70%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,664.00p +1.65%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 322.80p -3.84%
Weir Group (WEIR) 2,592.00p -3.64%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 1,023.00p -2.57%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 218.55p -2.41%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 769.50p -2.22%
Tesco (TSCO) 286.80p -2.10%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 361.80p -2.08%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,690.00p -1.88%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,553.50p -1.80%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 197.60p -1.64%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Fisher (James) & Sons (FSJ) 1,382.00p +7.05%
Supergroup (SGP) 1,378.00p +3.61%
Bank of Georgia Holdings (BGEO) 2,693.00p +3.46%
IP Group (IPO) 177.00p +2.91%
Alent (ALNT) 327.20p +2.89%
Essar Energy (ESSR) 68.90p +2.53%
Hansteen Holdings (HSTN) 105.40p +2.43%
Partnership Assurance Group (PA.) 135.00p +2.27%
RPC Group (RPC) 613.00p +2.17%
Caledonia Investments (CLDN) 2,135.00p +2.15%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Brown (N.) Group (BWNG) 485.90p -5.28%
Polymetal International (POLY) 542.50p -4.15%
Serco Group (SRP) 329.70p -3.06%
Lancashire Holdings Limited (LRE) 680.00p -2.86%
Fidessa Group (FDSA) 2,190.00p -2.32%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 924.50p -2.27%
Lonmin (LMI) 277.30p -2.19%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 242.90p -2.17%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 192.10p -2.09%
BBA Aviation (BBA) 303.80p -2.00%