- Banks rise as Basel eases capital rules
- US earnings in focus this week
- AMEC offers 1.9bn pounds for Foster Wheeler
- US activist investors looking at Morrison, reports say
techMARK 2,797.71 -0.15%
FTSE 100 6,731.21 -0.13%
FTSE 250 16,199.41 +0.05%
UK stocks were swinging between gains and losses on Monday morning as traders showed caution in the aftermath of Friday's disappointing US jobs report and ahead of results out from some Wall Street heavyweights later this week.
Nevertheless, banks were doing their best to limit downside in London with the sector rising strongly on the back of an easing of a rule by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision.
In particular focus now, and acting as a backdrop, according to some market observers, are Eurozone consumer price inflation data out this week - given existing deflation risks.
After a slightly positive start, the FTSE 100 was trading down 0.1% at around 6,730 by midday.
"Equities are on the soft side on the whole as a lack of economic data offers little reason to get excited just yet with participants waiting for a raft of US earnings this week for some inspiration," said Market Strategist Ishaq Siddiqi from ETX Capital.
A number of US bellwethers will be in focus this week with JPMorgan Chase & Co, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Citigroup all expected to report their fourth-quarter earnings in the coming days.
Last week's release of the December US jobs report was still on investors' minds today as it revealed that just 74,000 jobs were added last month, significantly below the 241,000 recorded in November and well below what was expected by analysts.
The big miss has sparked uncertainty regarding the future of the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing programme, which it started to taper at last month's meeting in the face of an improving labour market.
To take into account as well, last week Barclays Research revised its growth estimate for the UK in 2014 to 3.1% (from 2.3% before). Of interest, over the weekend its peers at Citi were cited as saying that growth could reach a 4 per cent pace in at least one quarter this year.
Also, the FT's economics editor now sees the MPC raising its main policy rate starting in the fourth quarter.
Banks gain, oil stocks fall
Banks across Europe were making decent gains after Basel eased the terms of a rule on institutions' leverage ratios, reducing the pressure on banks to raise more capital to meet requirements. UK lenders Barclays, Lloyds and RBS were all in demand in London.
Heading the other way were oil stocks with Tullow, BP and Shell tracking the price of crude lower.
Oilfield services group AMEC, however, was higher after saying it would buy Switzerland-based rival Foster Wheeler for £1.9bn. AMEC said that the combination of the businesses "is a compelling proposition for all shareholders".
Sector peer Petrofac was also up despite announcing that the head of its Integrated Energy Services division is to leave next month to run US-listed Kosmos Energy.
Supermarket group Morrison was a high riser as it continued to recover after a steep fall last week following a bigger-than-expected drop in like-for-like sales over Christmas. Broker Shore Capital said it expects activist investors to continue to show interest in Morrisons as reports suggested it was planning to sell part of its shop portfolio.
The share price of department store Debenhams advanced after High Street peer Sports Direct bought a 4.6% stake in the company, saying that it is exploring options for the retailers to work together. Sports Direct, however, was trading firmly lower.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 245.80p +4.11%
Barclays (BARC) 290.95p +2.59%
Amec (AMEC) 1,103.00p +2.22%
Fresnillo (FRES) 694.00p +2.21%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 364.60p +2.16%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,682.00p +2.00%
ITV (ITV) 203.10p +1.80%
Experian (EXPN) 1,126.00p +1.72%
Aviva (AV.) 477.70p +1.66%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 3,772.00p +1.62%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Tullow Oil (TLW) 884.00p -2.80%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,456.00p -1.49%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 4,609.00p -1.48%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,040.50p -1.43%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 746.50p -1.26%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 803.50p -1.05%
BP (BP.) 491.85p -1.04%
Kingfisher (KGF) 385.40p -1.00%
Severn Trent (SVT) 1,656.00p -0.96%
SSE (SSE) 1,351.00p -0.95%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Ocado Group (OCDO) 545.00p +5.72%
Debenhams (DEB) 85.40p +4.72%
CSR (CSR) 659.50p +4.27%
KCOM Group (KCOM) 99.35p +3.76%
UBM (UBM) 703.50p +3.00%
Man Group (EMG) 89.15p +2.65%
Soco International (SIA) 413.20p +2.53%
Rank Group (RNK) 143.50p +2.50%
Bwin.party Digital Entertainment (BPTY) 115.00p +2.40%
Diploma (DPLM) 733.50p +2.30%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Dechra Pharmaceuticals (DPH) 717.50p -2.45%
Interserve (IRV) 677.00p -1.81%
ICAP (IAP) 448.50p -1.80%
Berkeley Group Holdings (The) (BKG) 2,680.00p -1.72%
Beazley (BEZ) 275.40p -1.64%
Bellway (BWY) 1,621.00p -1.58%
Euromoney Institutional Investor (ERM) 1,344.00p -1.54%
Cobham (COB) 289.00p -1.53%
IG Group Holdings (IGG) 620.50p -1.51%
Tullett Prebon (TLPR) 376.10p -1.42%