- Chinese manufacturing unexpectedly contracts
- PMI figures from Eurozone beat forecasts
- Raft of US data due out later on
- Pearson and easyJet drop after updates, M&S upgraded
techMARK 2,848.63 +0.02%
FTSE 100 6,811.34 -0.22%
FTSE 250 16,125.92 -0.13%
After a subdued start, the FTSE 100 turned lower by Thursday lunchtime after some disappointing economic data from China outweighed a better-than-expected gauge of business activity in the Eurozone.
Meanwhile, steep falls from Pearson and easyJet were weighing on markets in London after negative reactions to trading updates from both companies.
The Footsie, which has traded broadly sideways since for the past three days, was down 0.2% at 6,811, as it continues to struggle to break last year's closing high of 6,840. This is seen as the index's only major resistance level keeping it from the record high set in 1999 of 6,930.
The unofficial HSBC/Markit flash purchasing managers index (PMI) for Chinese manufacturing showed that the sector unexpectedly contracted in January. The PMI fell from 50.5 to a six-month low of 49.6 this month, disappointing analysts who had expected a smaller decline to 50.4.
Market Strategist Ishaq Siddiqi from ETX Capital said: "Some are now fearing that 10-year economic revamp to gear the country to one based on domestic consumption rather than one reliant on debt and infrastructure spending, may take longer to bear fruit."
In contrast, PMI figures from the Eurozone came in ahead of expectations with the manufacturing PMI for January rising from 52.7 to 53.9 and the services PMI rising from 51 to 51.9. This pushed the composite PMI up from 52.1 to 53.2, ahead of the 52.5 forecast.
After a reasonably quiet start to the week, Thursday's session looks to be relatively 'data-heavy' with a barrage of economic indicators due out in the US later on.
This include the release of American manufacturing figures, existing-home sales, jobless claims and the leading indicators index, with data being closely watched amid speculation that the Federal Reserve will continue to scale back its quantitative easing programme at its policy meeting next week.
Pearson drops after weaker-than-expected 2013
Publishing and education company Pearson sunk sharply this morning after admitting that its trading and financial performance for 2013 was "weaker than expected", particularly in North America. The Financial Times owner also gave a cautious outlook for 2014, saying that trading conditions were "still challenging" in the current quarter.
Budget airline easyJet also fell despite seeing a 3.4% jump in revenue per seat during the first quarter, as passengers carried rose 4.2%.
Supermarket stocks were under the weather this morning with Tesco, Sainsbury and Morrison all trading in the red after gloomy comments from JPMorgan Cazenove which kept 'underweight' positions on all three names.
Leading the upside was High Street giant M&S after Exane BNP Paribas upgraded the stock by two notches from 'underperform' to 'outperform' on the back of the retailer's turnaround. With the valuation near 10-year lows, the broker said, "now is the time to look beyond recent troubles".
Pharmaceuticals group Shire gained after announcing the retirement of Non-Executive Chairman Matthew Emmens, who joined the company in 2003. Insurance firm Aviva, however, fell after news of the resignation of its Chief Financial Officer Pat Regan.
Petra Diamonds was a heavy faller on the FTSE 250 despite a strong first-half trading update, as the share price pulled back sharply after a strong run in recent days. The company said it remains on track to hit its production guidance for the full year after a 31% jump in output during the first six months.
Intellectual property firm IP Group fell after saying that it would buy up the remaining 80% of Fusion IP that it does not already own for around £70m. The offer values Fusion IP shares
at 80.2p, a 27% premium to yesterday's closing price, causing the AIM-listed stock to surge this morning.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 491.50p +2.20%
BAE Systems (BA.) 441.50p +1.73%
Barclays (BARC) 282.85p +1.67%
Fresnillo (FRES) 766.50p +1.59%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 352.70p +1.35%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) 1,877.00p +1.24%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 710.50p +1.07%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,379.50p +0.95%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 425.20p +0.90%
Mondi (MNDI) 977.00p +0.83%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Pearson (PSON) 1,197.00p -7.78%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,420.00p -2.74%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,697.00p -2.64%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,211.00p -2.50%
ITV (ITV) 199.50p -1.72%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,697.00p -1.62%
Royal Mail (RMG) 590.50p -1.58%
Standard Life (SL.) 384.20p -1.51%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 802.00p -1.47%
SABMiller (SAB) 2,995.50p -1.43%
FTSE 250 - Risers
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 210.90p +5.71%
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 18.91p +4.42%
Xaar (XAR) 1,060.00p +2.91%
Essar Energy (ESSR) 65.50p +1.95%
Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group (JLT) 1,080.00p +1.89%
St. Modwen Properties (SMP) 392.80p +1.66%
Greencore Group (GNC) 257.00p +1.58%
COLT Group SA (COLT) 124.40p +1.55%
3i Group (III) 394.70p +1.39%
PayPoint (PAY) 1,135.00p +1.34%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Ladbrokes (LAD) 149.80p -3.10%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 198.00p -2.99%
Dixons Retail (DXNS) 44.33p -2.89%
Afren (AFR) 157.50p -2.78%
Keller Group (KLR) 1,199.00p -2.52%
IP Group (IPO) 175.90p -2.22%
esure Group (ESUR) 284.40p -1.93%
Bellway (BWY) 1,566.00p -1.82%
Petra Diamonds Ltd.(DI) (PDL) 132.50p -1.78%
Investec (INVP) 417.60p -1.69%