- Unilever rises after annual results
- Miners fall as Goldman adjusts metal price forecasts
- Credit squeeze eases in China
- German ZEW survey weakens
techMARK 2,854.01 +0.01%
FTSE 100 6,844.27 +0.11%
FTSE 250 16,191.74 -0.22%
It was another subdued morning in London with the FTSE 100 trading within a narrow range as UK markets tread water at levels not seen in one and a half decades.
Following on from a lacklustre session for financial markets on Monday - given that Wall Street was closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day - London's benchmark FTSE 100 was trading at 6,844 at midday today, up just 0.1% on the day.
However, if the index holds on to these gains, it will surpass last year's closing high of 6,840.27 reached in May 2013, coming within touching distance of the record high of 6,930 hit in December 1999.
"The UK benchmark broke through the closing highs posted back in May last year on the opening bell, with an intraday high of 6,875 on the same day the only historical resistance to break before taking on all-time high recorded back in 1999," explained Toby Morris, Senior Sales Trader at CMC Markets.
Upside for stocks this morning was triggered by a positive finish for Asian markets overnight on the back of an easing of credit conditions in China as the central bank reportedly injected fresh liquidity into the country's large banks to meet demand for cash ahead of Chinese New Year later this month.
Investors were largely shrugging off a surprise fall in the German ZEW index on economic sentiment which fell from 62 to 61.7 in January, worse than rise to 64 expected by analysts. The current situation index, however, jumped from 32.4 to 41.2.
Unilever jumps, miners fall
Consumer products group Unilever was a high riser this morning after reporting underlying sales growth of 4.3% for 2013, helped by strong growth in the emerging markets. Smaller peer PZ Cussons, however, fell after saying that currency headwinds limited growth in its first half.
Mining stocks were firmly out of favour due to weakness in metals prices. Investors were also focusing on comments from Goldman Sachs which adjusted its commodity price forecasts for 2014 and beyond. The US bank raised its estimates for zinc, lead and potash; kept iron ore and thermal coal unchanged; but downgraded coking coal and platinum forecasts.
As such, Anglo American, the largest producer of platinum in the world, was among the worst performers, followed by Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Randgold, Glencore Xstrata and Fresnillo.
Bucking the trend was African Barrick Gold as the Tanzania-focused miner beat its own full-year guidance for gold production.
Beverages group SABMiller was lower as investors gave a cool reaction to an update on its third-quarter, during which beer volumes rose by a less-than-expected 1%.
Financial services group Legal & General was under the weather after HSBC downgraded the stock to 'neutral'. The same bank also reduced its rating for RSA Insurance to 'underweight'.
Financial peer Hargreaves Lansdown was being boosted by JPMorgan Cazenove which upped its target price and kept an 'overweight' rating.
However, bookmakers Ladbrokes and William Hill were both unwanted after JPMorgan Cazenove raised concerns with potential regulatory restrictions on machine gaming. They said that the restrictions could prompt "material downgrades and significant shop closures" at both companies.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,570.00p +4.04%
Intertek Group (ITRK) 3,021.00p +3.89%
Unilever (ULVR) 2,524.00p +3.57%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,722.00p +2.93%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,758.00p +2.45%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,360.00p +2.41%
Severn Trent (SVT) 1,689.00p +2.30%
Imperial Tobacco Group (IMT) 2,276.00p +2.15%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 4,774.00p +1.94%
British Land Co (BLND) 673.50p +1.81%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 425.00p -2.39%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,264.50p -2.14%
Weir Group (WEIR) 2,185.00p -1.89%
William Hill (WMH) 355.80p -1.71%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,370.50p -1.62%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 886.50p -1.61%
Glencore Xstrata (GLEN) 333.90p -1.21%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,865.00p -1.14%
SABMiller (SAB) 3,060.00p -1.10%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 227.00p -1.05%
FTSE 250 - Risers
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 212.50p +5.93%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 1,665.00p +2.46%
Greencore Group (GNC) 243.60p +2.22%
Supergroup (SGP) 1,578.00p +2.20%
Polymetal International (POLY) 582.50p +2.19%
Homeserve (HSV) 303.60p +1.91%
Barr (A.G.) (BAG) 601.00p +1.86%
Dixons Retail (DXNS) 46.84p +1.72%
Herald Inv Trust (HRI) 731.00p +1.53%
WH Smith (SMWH) 1,030.00p +1.38%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Ladbrokes (LAD) 160.50p -3.72%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 174.30p -3.17%
International Personal Finance (IPF) 480.20p -2.91%
PZ Cussons (PZC) 386.30p -2.50%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 204.50p -2.11%
Domino's Pizza Group (DOM) 522.00p -2.06%
Entertainment One Limited (ETO) 288.50p -1.87%
Rentokil Initial (RTO) 120.40p -1.87%
Rathbone Brothers (RAT) 1,686.00p -1.86%
Foxtons Group (FOXT) 346.40p -1.84%