- Insurers drop sharply on FCA investigation reports
- Miners edge higher
- Chinese Premier hints at more stimulus
techMARK 2,767.34 +0.16%
FTSE 100 6,590.41 +0.03%
FTSE 250 16,181.96 -0.12%
The FTSE 100 was trading more or less flat by Friday lunchtime after erasing earlier gains as heavy losses in the insurance sector outweighed hopes of stimulus measures in China.
Miners were leading markets higher early on after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang hinted that policymakers could do more to prevent an economic slowdown. However, reports of a Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) investigation into insurance policies sent insurance stocks reeling.
Sentiment was also dampened by economic data which showed that the current account deficit in the UK remained close to a record high in the fourth quarter of 2013, surprising analysts who had expected a big reduction.
The FTSE 100 was trading just 0.03% higher at 6,590 by midday, coming off a high of 6,631.34 reached mid-morning.
Chinese stimulus speculation
Li, speaking at a government meeting in Shenyang, reportedly said that policymakers "should launch well-targeted, effective measures one after another according to our tasks stated in the Government Work Report".
He said that the government should not overlook "downward risks" to the economy and has the "ability, confidence and conditions to make sure the economy runs within a reasonable range".
"A targeted fiscal stimulus programme was carried out last year in similar circumstances, when slowing growth drove fears that the country would not hit its 7.5% growth target. These efforts worked then and I have little doubt that they'll work again if carried out this year," said Market Analyst Craig Erlam from Alpari.
Insurers tank on FCA reports
According to The Telegraph, the FCA is set to announce it will check 30m insurance policies worth £150bn over concerns customers were exploited. The regulator will next week say it is looking at pensions, endowments, investment bonds and life insurance policies sold in the UK sold between the 1970s and 2000.
Resolution dropped 15% on the news, while Phoenix plummeted 23%. Insurance peers Legal & General, Aviva, Standard Life, Prudential, St James's Place, Just Retirement and Partnership Assurance also fell sharply.
Mining stocks were performing well amid hopes of stimulus measures in China, which would lead to growth in demand for commodities. Glencore Xstrata, Fresnillo and Anglo American were all on the rise. Randgold was also higher after saying that gold production would top 1m ounces in 2014, compared with the 910,364 ounces produced last year.
Investec lifted its recommendation for Smith & Nephew from 'add' to 'buy' and hiked its target price by a third, giving the stock a lift this morning. The broker said that the medical equipment maker is "beginning to look like a growth stock again".
On AIM, the share price of radiation technology group Kromek plummeted after it warned that revenue for the year ending April 30th will be "significantly below current market expectations" due to delays in a number of large contracts. Kromek, which listed in London in October, had previously expected to break even this year but now predicts making a loss.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 920.00p +2.22%
G4S (GFS) 237.60p +2.06%
Rexam (REX) 489.80p +2.00%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,516.50p +1.98%
Glencore Xstrata (GLEN) 312.70p +1.82%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 307.00p +1.69%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 90.10p +1.64%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,544.00p +1.29%
SSE (SSE) 1,505.00p +1.21%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 1,090.00p +1.11%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Resolution Ltd. (RSL) 270.60p -15.17%
Aviva (AV.) 445.90p -7.78%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 197.70p -6.92%
Prudential (PRU) 1,249.00p -5.02%
St James's Place (STJ) 803.50p -4.97%
Standard Life (SL.) 370.60p -4.06%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 73.31p -2.75%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,432.00p -1.58%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,411.00p -1.47%
Kingfisher (KGF) 417.60p -1.42%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Xaar (XAR) 880.00p +5.77%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 464.60p +4.03%
Greencore Group (GNC) 273.00p +2.44%
Kier Group (KIE) 1,645.00p +2.43%
Interserve (IRV) 722.00p +2.34%
Bovis Homes Group (BVS) 891.00p +2.18%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 256.50p +2.07%
Croda International (CRDA) 2,573.00p +2.02%
Balfour Beatty (BBY) 291.60p +1.89%
Alent (ALNT) 310.90p +1.87%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Phoenix Group Holdings (DI) (PHNX) 570.50p -22.59%
Man Group (EMG) 98.25p -3.58%
Partnership Assurance Group (PA.) 129.40p -3.43%
Beazley (BEZ) 255.70p -2.92%
Just Retirement Group (JRG) 131.00p -2.67%
EnQuest (ENQ) 126.80p -2.54%
Dixons Retail (DXNS) 47.90p -2.38%
Tullett Prebon (TLPR) 275.10p -2.34%
Afren (AFR) 139.80p -2.24%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 169.50p -2.19%