- Stocks extend three-week high
- ECB, US data ahead
- Antofagasta unharmed by Chile quake
- Sports Direct extends gains on expansion potential
techMARK 2,795.73 +0.42%
FTSE 100 6,666.62 +0.21%
FTSE 250 16,470.77 +0.39%
The FTSE 100 had pushed into positive territory by Wednesday lunchtime, but gains were limited as investors showed caution ahead of some key macro events over the coming days.
After a weak start, which sent the FTSE 100 to a low of 6,639.63 early on, the index was trading 0.2% higher at 6,667 by midday. The benchmark hit a three-week high of 6,652.61.
The European Central Bank meeting on Thursday will likely grab the market's attention given this week's sharp slowdown in Eurozone inflation, which has prompted calls for policymakers to act. Consumer prices rose at an annual rate of just 0.5% in March, down from 0.8% the previous month and below estimates.
Meanwhile, US economic data will be in focus today with the ADP Employment Report often seen as a rough indicator of Friday's official non-farm payrolls figure. Consensus forecasts are pointing to a 195,000 increase in ADP private-sector payrolls in March, up from 139,000 the previous month.
"This would push us closer to the kind of numbers we were seeing prior to the adverse weather conditions that took hold from December onwards and thus seems viable," said Research Analyst Joshua Mahony from Alpari UK. "However, we have seen the past two figures miss expectations, so I am watching to see if this trend continues or can finally be bucked," he said.
Antofagasta gains despite Chile quake
Mining stocks were on the rise this morning as metals prices gained across the board. Copper miner Antofagasta was among the best performers despite reports of an 8.2 magnitude earthquake in Chile, where the company is based. According to Reuters, the company has said that its copper operations were unharmed by the disaster. Resource peers Fresnillo and Randgold were also making gains early on.
Sports Direct was continuing to rise sharply after Liberum Capital said on Tuesday the company could expand its "limited scale" in Europe. Analyst Sanjay Vidyarthi said that organic growth alone is not viable, but identified "potential [acquisition] targets which equate to over 1,000 stores across Europe and around €2bn of sales".
Domino's Pizza rose after a 10% increase in like-for-like sales at its 725 UK stores in the first quarter, driven by improved weather and the success of its Winter Survival meal deal.
Online fashion retailer ASOS was also higher after a 22% drop in first-half profits was not as bad as feared, while revenues jumped by 34%.
GlaxoSmithKline declined after saying it was "disappointed" with having to call an end to its clinical trial for its treatment for non-small cell lung cancer after results failed to meet expectations.
Centrica fell after Credit Suisse said that a price rise at British Gas is unlikely before 2016, with the group likely to follow suit after SSE's price freeze.
Financial groups Aviva, Jardine Lloyds Thompson, Phoenix and Resolution were all trading lower after going ex-dividend. Other stocks on the FTSE 350 trading without the right to their latest payouts included Pearson, Tullow Oil, DS Smith, Wolseley, 888 Holdings, Next and Interserve.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Sports Direct International (SPD) 919.00p +2.97%
Fresnillo (FRES) 869.00p +2.72%
Hammerson (HMSO) 566.00p +2.35%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 470.40p +2.31%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 433.80p +2.19%
British Land Co (BLND) 669.50p +2.14%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,063.00p +2.11%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 856.00p +1.97%
IMI (IMI) 1,518.00p +1.88%
Barclays (BARC) 241.75p +1.81%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Resolution Ltd. (RSL) 293.20p -3.46%
Pearson (PSON) 1,011.00p -3.16%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 206.20p -2.18%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 1,033.00p -1.34%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,432.00p -1.24%
Diageo (DGE) 1,833.50p -0.97%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 4,871.00p -0.71%
WPP (WPP) 1,241.00p -0.56%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 2,336.00p -0.55%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 920.00p -0.54%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Intermediate Capital Group (ICP) 453.60p +4.23%
Genus (GNS) 1,023.00p +3.81%
Oxford Instruments (OXIG) 1,310.00p +3.72%
Vesuvius (VSVS) 451.00p +3.68%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 52.65p +2.93%
SEGRO (SGRO) 342.30p +2.89%
Henderson Group (HGG) 273.10p +2.79%
Amec (AMEC) 1,201.00p +2.56%
Jupiter Fund Management (JUP) 425.10p +2.56%
Foxtons Group (FOXT) 365.00p +2.53%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Interserve (IRV) 706.00p -5.23%
888 Holdings (888) 148.20p -3.83%
Infinis Energy (INFI) 237.00p -2.27%
Supergroup (SGP) 1,707.00p -2.12%
Phoenix Group Holdings (DI) (PHNX) 670.00p -2.12%
John Laing Infrastructure Fund Ltd (JLIF) 116.20p -1.86%
Evraz (EVR) 77.65p -1.83%
Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group (JLT) 1,023.00p -1.82%
F&C Asset Management (FCAM) 119.60p -1.81%
Pace (PIC) 449.40p -1.79%