- Taper speculation picks up after budget deal
- RSA drops on profit warning, CEO exit
- FTSE 100 rebounds from two-month low
techMARK 2,662.49 +0.37%
FTSE 100 6,457.75 +0.19%
FTSE 250 15,251.18 +0.26%
The FTSE 100 snapped three straight days of losses on Friday morning but was trading within a narrow range as investors headed into the weekend in a cautious mood.
Markets managed to offset a massive 18% slump by RSA Insurance after the company issued a profit warning and revealed a surprise boardroom departure.
The London index was up 0.19% at 6,457.75 by midday, bouncing off a two-month low of 6,445.25 on Thursday. There was just 24 points separating its intraday low (6,437) and high (6,460) as it attempted to recover from its worst level since October 10th.
The upside moves come after a bipartisan US budget was passed by the House of Representatives last night by a wide margin (332 to 94), easing the fiscal uncertainty that has weighed on markets as of late.
The deal is expected to sail through the Senate next week, putting an end to three years of spending battles that brought the government to near-collapse, while at the same time removing one more hurdle standing in the way of the Federal Reserve's decision to taper it stimulus programme.
As Market Analyst Alastair McCaig from IG explains, upside on the FTSE 100 is continuing to be capped by the "FOMC 'will-they-or-won't-they' cloud hanging over it", as more and more analysts bring forward their expectations for the first taper.
"Nevertheless, the consensus is still that it will wait until 2014, as any efforts to start this year would ultimately feel forced and could easily send out the wrong signal," he said.
"These mixed messages have spooked the buy-on-dip traders, who at present seem reluctant to continue the 10-year trend of December rallies."
RSA plummets after profit warning, CEO exit
RSA Insurance fell sharply from the off after lowering its 2013 earnings forecast after identifying issues in its Irish business and experiencing adverse weather in Europe. At the same time the group announced the resignation of Group Chief Executive Simon Lee with immediate effect.
Chip designer ARM Holdings was leading the upside on reports that US internet giant Google is looking at using its technology to design its own server processors.
Airline groups easyJet and IAG were on the up after the International Air Transport Association upgraded its profit forecast for the global airline industry for 2014.
Perform Group was rising strongly this morning, albeit after a 58% sell-off on Thursday. The digital sports media firm warned that full-year revenues would be under previous expectations, pushing earnings "significantly" below forecasts.
Fund manager Old Mutual was higher after the news that its Finance Director Philip Broadley will be leaving the company next year.
A number of stocks were trading lower this morning after being hit by broker downgrades: British gas owner Centrica was lower after a downgrade by Societe Generale to 'hold'; utilities peer Drax was cut to 'neutral' by Citigroup; travel group Thomas Cook was lowered to 'reduce' by Nomura; and miner Anglo American fell after a Deutsche Bank downgrade to 'hold'.
Oil and gas producers such as BP and Shell were trading in the red after UBS said it is "remaining cautious" on the outlook for the industry next year. The bank said it sees "little reason for the European oil and gas sector to reverse its underperformance of 2012 and 2013".
FTSE 100 - Risers
ARM Holdings (ARM) 1,016.00p +4.53%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 695.50p +3.19%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 3,531.00p +2.11%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,478.00p +1.72%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,286.00p +1.58%
BAE Systems (BA.) 427.50p +1.57%
Prudential (PRU) 1,272.00p +1.52%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 800.00p +1.52%
ITV (ITV) 182.30p +1.45%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 375.10p +1.38%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 82.00p -17.75%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,504.00p -2.97%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,411.00p -2.62%
Experian (EXPN) 1,080.00p -1.64%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 770.00p -1.22%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,260.50p -1.14%
Fresnillo (FRES) 708.00p -1.12%
Centrica (CNA) 321.60p -1.08%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 755.00p -0.79%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 2,159.50p -0.78%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Perform Group (PER) 199.00p +10.56%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 423.30p +3.29%
Fidessa Group (FDSA) 2,274.00p +2.99%
Hays (HAS) 119.50p +2.66%
Balfour Beatty (BBY) 268.40p +2.44%
Enterprise Inns (ETI) 140.10p +2.19%
Home Retail Group (HOME) 189.60p +2.16%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 175.90p +2.03%
Bellway (BWY) 1,443.00p +1.98%
Henderson Group (HGG) 203.70p +1.90%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 193.40p -6.07%
Partnership Assurance Group (PA.) 279.50p -5.51%
Xaar (XAR) 1,117.00p -3.87%
AL Noor Hospitals Group (ANH) 930.50p -3.67%
Pace (PIC) 295.10p -3.53%
Thomas Cook Group (TCG) 163.10p -2.74%
Genus (GNS) 1,201.00p -2.36%
Menzies(John) (MNZS) 759.50p -2.00%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 257.10p -1.91%
Ophir Energy (OPHR) 305.50p -1.83%