- Expectations high for US non-farm payrolls
- 200k increase expected in March, jobless rate seen lower
- easyJet traffic grows, RBS appoints new CFO
- Retailers fall, including Tesco and M&S
techMARK 2,774.68 +0.14%
FTSE 100 6,678.29 +0.44%
FTSE 250 16,414.01 +0.40%
UK stock markets were putting in a decent performance on Friday with the FTSE 100 nearing a three-and-a-half week high as investors adopted a bullish mood ahead of the all-important US non-farm payrolls report due out this afternoon.
The FTSE 100 was trading 0.4% higher at 6,678 by midday; it has not closed above this level since March 11th when it finished at 6,685.52.
Following the positive ADP report on Wednesday, which showed that private hiring increased by 191,000 last month, expectations are high for a strong 'official' figure today as the adverse impact from severe winter weather seen in recent months eases.
Ahead of the Bureau for Labor Statistics data due out at 13:30, consensus forecasts were for a 200,000 increase in payrolls in March, up from 175,000 the month before, while the unemployment rate is expected to have fallen to 6.6% from 6.7%.
Market Analyst Craig Erlam from Alpari said that the positive moves on markets this morning was "unusual", as traders are normally fairly risk-averse before the jobs report each month.
"The number of jobs added in December, January and February appeared to be hit heavily by the unusually poor weather in the US and the expectation now is that the loss of job creation in those months will be carried over to the next few month, particularly March," he said.
easyJet traffic grows, RBS appoints new CFO
easyJet was flying higher this morning after saying the number of passengers in March rose by 4.8% to 5,107,676 compared to a year earlier. The load factor, the number of passengers to the number of seats available, increased to 91.5% from 90.5% the same month in 2013.
Royal Bank of Scotland rose after hiring long-running Credit Suisse banker, Ewen Stevenson, as its new Chief Finance Officer (CFO) following the resignation of Nathan Bostock in December. Shore Capital Analyst Gary Greenwood said the appointment "removes uncertainty" at the bank and "should therefore enhance investor confidence in the company's ability to deliver on its strategic plan".
Oil, gas and mining engineer Kentz Corporation, however, fell after revealing that its CFO, Ed Power, is to step down on reaching his normal retirement age this May.
Supermarket group Tesco was trading lower on speculation that its Finance Chief Laurie McIlwee could quit in the coming days amid falling profits and a recent decline in market share. McIlwee has worked for Tesco for 15 years.
Department store Marks & Spencer was also in the red after Goldman Sachs warned of margin pressures, saying that the business is not immune to the increasing competition in the UK grocery market. In a report last night, the bank added M&S to its 'Conviction Sell List' and slashed its target price from 420p to 340p.
Other retailers such as Kingfisher, WM Morrison, SuperGroup and Dixons Retail were also lower despite research from Deloitte saying that the High Street has showed "great resilience" since the financial crisis.
Telecoms group Vodafone was hit with a downgrade by Nomura to 'neutral' and a target price cut from 255p to 240p. Meanwhile, Pearson was higher after Jefferies upgraded the publisher to 'buy' and raised its target from 1,128p to 1,184p.
FTSE 100 - Risers
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 94.35p +3.68%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,079.00p +2.37%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,829.00p +2.12%
Pearson (PSON) 1,029.00p +2.08%
Aviva (AV.) 498.30p +1.90%
G4S (GFS) 248.60p +1.80%
Resolution Ltd. (RSL) 294.20p +1.80%
Fresnillo (FRES) 885.00p +1.67%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 440.20p +1.55%
Carnival (CCL) 2,387.00p +1.36%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Kingfisher (KGF) 438.90p -1.19%
Intertek Group (ITRK) 2,974.00p -0.87%
Tesco (TSCO) 289.35p -0.81%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 1,018.00p -0.78%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 3,271.00p -0.73%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 217.95p -0.55%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,883.00p -0.53%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 414.30p -0.53%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 206.00p -0.48%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 3,899.50p -0.46%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Perform Group (PER) 259.80p +5.18%
Man Group (EMG) 106.90p +4.91%
Oxford Instruments (OXIG) 1,412.00p +4.83%
Fidessa Group (FDSA) 2,641.00p +2.84%
Premier Oil (PMO) 305.70p +2.69%
Evraz (EVR) 77.90p +2.50%
Alent (ALNT) 321.80p +2.48%
Phoenix Group Holdings (DI) (PHNX) 654.50p +2.43%
Vesuvius (VSVS) 456.80p +2.33%
Ted Baker (TED) 2,181.00p +2.15%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Supergroup (SGP) 1,596.00p -3.33%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 216.20p -2.44%
FirstGroup (FGP) 131.50p -2.23%
CSR (CSR) 695.50p -2.04%
Big Yellow Group (BYG) 542.50p -1.99%
Savills (SVS) 659.00p -1.86%
Booker Group (BOK) 158.70p -1.67%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 453.30p -1.48%
Dixons Retail (DXNS) 49.70p -1.29%
Provident Financial (PFG) 1,902.00p -1.25%