- Concerns about China weigh heavy
- Miners drag FTSE lower
- Strong UK retail sales
techMARK 2,897.56 -0.68%
FTSE 100 6,806.47 -0.86%
FTSE 250 16,467.74 -0.43%
The FTSE was sitting firmly in the red by lunchtime today, falling back from yesterday's 14-year high as mining stocks dragged the index lower and China's housing market gave cause for concern.
The top tier was down 64 points at the midday.
Chinese stocks tumbled overnight amid concerns the steepest drop in the yuan in more than three years might herald slower growth. The currency also dropped on bets the central bank wants to end its appreciation to boost trading.
It marked the fourth consecutive day of decline for stocks, which were down almost 7% since last week.
"The yuan has depreciated significantly, by 1% over the past week," Simon Smith, Chief Economist at FxPro, said. "This takes the currency to levels last seen in July/August last year against the US dollar."
He added: "There has been speculation that the Chinese authorities could be preparing the market for more volatility ahead of a widening of the trading band later this year. Concerns regarding lending in the property sector remain, which threatens a more pronounced slowdown versus the soft landing that the Chinese authorities want to see."
In the US later on, the consumer confidence reading for February will be unveiled and is expected to fall slightly to 80 from 80.7 the prior month.
UK retail sales trounce expectations in year to February
In data out this morning, it was revealed that UK retail sales grew at a considerably faster-than-expected pace in the 12 months to February and at their fastest rate since the middle of 2012, according to a business survey.
The total sales gauge for the Confederation of British Industry's (CBI) Distributive Trades Survey rose to a reading of 37, from 14 in the month before (consensus: 15).
Strong sales volumes were reported among grocers, clothing and furniture & carpet retailers, although specialist food & drink sales fell for a second month.
German exports drive Q4 GDP growth
Over in Germany, the second release of fourth quarter gross domestic product (GDP) confirmed the first growth estimate and showed that the Eurozone's largest economy economy grew 1.3% on the year, marking an increase from the prior quarter's 1.1% rise. Quarter-on-quarter, GDP increased 0.4%, in line with the consensus estimate for no change in the preliminary estimate.
"Investment and net trade drove the slight pick-up in GDP growth at the end of last year, while consumption was surprisingly weak," Barclays noted.
"We expect that GDP growth will accelerate somewhat further over the next couple of quarters as the investment recovery proceeds and inventories are replenished, consumer demand strengthens and external demand holds up."
The European Commission had been due to report its winter growth forecast for the Eurozone, although none was forthcoming.
CRH tops leaderboard, Jefferies rates stock a 'buy'
CRH climbed despite poor results for 2013 after Chief Executive of the construction materials group, Albert Manifold, said he expected 2014 to be a year of profit growth, with current trading ahead of last year. The group blamed severe winter conditions and weaker trading in Europe for the results, which reported a six per cent decline in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of 1.47bn euros. Comments from broker Jefferies helped, giving the stock a 'buy' rating and 1,700p price target.
Associated British Foods was seen recovering from yesterday's heavy declines, which saw it drop after the group reported a slump in the Sugar business. It said it expects first half adjusted operating profit to be in line with 2013 following a strong performance from its Primark stores. Analysts at both Panmure Gordon and Credit Suisse on Monday hiked their price targets for the company's shares.
Miners weighed heavily, with Anglo American, Rio Tinto, Antofagasta and Fresnillo all registering big drops as concerns about China dragged sentiment lower and metal prices moved into the red.
fell sharply after the group reported a flat full-year performance in Europe, while both Japanese and Indian production fell 4%. Broker Jefferies was upbeat about the stock, however, giving it a 'buy' rating, saying the result was ahead of its forecasts.
HSBC also declined sharply after Citigroup reduced its rating on the stock from 'buy' to 'neutral' on the back of Monday's disappointing results.
FTSE 100 - Risers
CRH (CRH) 1,765.00p +4.81%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,964.00p +1.51%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 5,070.00p +0.90%
William Hill (WMH) 373.70p +0.62%
Sage Group (SGE) 431.70p +0.54%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 1,524.00p +0.53%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 785.00p +0.51%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,477.00p +0.48%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 797.00p +0.44%
Schroders (SDR) 2,691.00p +0.37%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Anglo American (AAL) 1,483.00p -3.29%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,438.50p -2.77%
GKN (GKN) 403.50p -2.75%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 908.00p -2.68%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 247.15p -2.04%
Fresnillo (FRES) 977.50p -2.00%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,279.00p -1.99%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,924.00p -1.84%
Glencore Xstrata (GLEN) 330.75p -1.71%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 625.30p -1.64%
FTSE 250 - Risers
St James's Place (STJ) 837.50p +5.41%
Rotork (ROR) 2,647.00p +2.64%
Capital & Counties Properties (CAPC) 390.80p +2.49%
NMC Health (NMC) 458.30p +2.46%
Ladbrokes (LAD) 153.70p +1.79%
ITE Group (ITE) 286.10p +1.60%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 192.80p +1.53%
888 Holdings (888) 156.80p +1.49%
Thomas Cook Group (TCG) 183.60p +1.32%
Spirent Communications (SPT) 104.70p +1.26%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Ashmore Group (ASHM) 314.10p -7.62%
Evraz (EVR) 76.70p -4.30%
Lonmin (LMI) 303.50p -2.72%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 846.00p -2.59%
Redrow (RDW) 331.20p -2.42%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 56.40p -2.42%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 127.90p -2.37%
Riverstone Energy Limited (RSE) 902.50p -2.17%
Renishaw (RSW) 1,950.00p -2.16%
Soco International (SIA) 435.80p -2.11%