- Retail updates come in mixed
- Citi turns bullish on mining sector
- Markets flat after recent highs
techMARK 2,836.75 -0.14%
FTSE 100 6,823.76 +0.06%
FTSE 250 16,237.17 -0.34%
UK markets paused for breath on Thursday morning after hitting their highest level in eight months the previous session, as strong gains in the mining sector were offset by a mixed performance by retailers.
Miners were leading the upside after an upbeat research report from Citigroup, while AB Foods fell heavily after a weakening performance from its Sugar division. Dixons, N Brown, Halfords and Home Retail were also being closely watched after updating the market on sales during the key festive shopping season.
The FTSE 100, which rose to 6,819.86 on Wednesday - its highest level since May 22nd 2013 - was little changed by midday, having traded within a narrow range of just 20 points in the morning session.
Investors were also showing caution after Frankfurt's DAX and New York's S&P 500
indices reached record highs yesterday.
"Bulls won't be too worried after yesterday's session saw markets surge across the board, taking the DAX to new all-time highs and bringing the FTSE within sight of its 1999 peak of 6,950. At the current rate you're not going to get big odds on it hitting that landmark by the end of the month," said Toby Morris, Senior Sales Trader at CMC Markets.
In other news, the World Economic Forum's Global Risks 2014 report found that a worsening wealth gap between the richest and poorest is the "biggest risk facing the world". Its annual assessment warned that the income disparity was seen as the risk that is "most likely to cause serious damage globally in the coming decade".
Aberdeen drops, retailers mixed
Mining stocks were performing well after Citigroup lifted its stance on the sector from 'neutral' to 'bullish', representing its first positive outlook for the industry in three years. The bank has labelled BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Glencore Xstrata as its "key picks" as it said that sentiment will begin to improve in the sector after having hit "rock bottom".
Associated British Foods, the food ingredients company and owner of Primark, left forecasts for the full year intact despite a mixed first quarter. The company said that the profit decline in its Sugar division will be "greater than previously expected" due to a reduction in sugar prices, but higher-than-estimated margins at Primark should help make up the difference.
Electrical retailer Dixons was a heavy faller this morning after underwhelming investors with 3% like-for-like (LFL) sales growth in its third quarter. The company warned that it is facing "some very strong comparable in the fourth quarter", saying that the remainder of the financial year will be "more modest than the year to date".
Home-shopping group N Brown was flat as LFL sales growth slowed from 7.8% in the first half to 5.1% in the third quarter due to an unusually mild autumn.
In contrast, Halfords gained after beating third-quarter forecasts with a 5.2% jump in group LFL sales, helped by strong growth from cycling products.
Argos and Homebase owner Home Retail also rose after saying that full-year profits will come in at the top-end of market forecasts following decent LFL sales growth in its third quarter.
Aberdeen Asset Management erased losses after a heavy fall early on as the fund manager reported a 3% drop in assets under management during its first quarter.
United Utilities was lifted by an upgrade by Morgan Stanley to 'overweight'; Royal Mail was pushed lower by a downgrade from Beaufort Securities to 'hold'; Intertek fell after Berenberg cut the stock to 'hold'.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Anglo American (AAL) 1,387.50p +4.13%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,859.00p +3.77%
Fresnillo (FRES) 722.00p +3.74%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 683.00p +3.64%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 817.00p +3.42%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 892.50p +3.42%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,364.50p +3.40%
Glencore Xstrata (GLEN) 326.75p +2.29%
Severn Trent (SVT) 1,673.00p +1.95%
Imperial Tobacco Group (IMT) 2,219.00p +1.56%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Intertek Group (ITRK) 2,855.00p -4.16%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,591.00p -3.89%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 84.47p -2.12%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 986.00p -2.09%
Amec (AMEC) 1,034.00p -1.71%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 855.50p -1.61%
ITV (ITV) 206.50p -1.48%
Old Mutual (OML) 193.00p -1.38%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 727.00p -1.36%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 369.90p -1.36%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Halfords Group (HFD) 494.40p +7.25%
Polymetal International (POLY) 544.00p +5.84%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 899.50p +3.33%
Computacenter (CCC) 666.50p +3.33%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 197.90p +3.29%
Home Retail Group (HOME) 207.10p +3.03%
CSR (CSR) 696.00p +2.35%
Partnership Assurance Group (PA.) 334.50p +2.14%
Lonmin (LMI) 307.60p +1.89%
BlackRock World Mining Trust (BRWM) 469.00p +1.74%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
SVG Capital (SVI) 429.50p -7.83%
Xaar (XAR) 1,010.00p -5.96%
Dixons Retail (DXNS) 47.88p -5.00%
Premier Oil (PMO) 294.70p -4.32%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,258.00p -2.93%
Perform Group (PER) 243.00p -2.80%
Homeserve (HSV) 298.40p -2.48%
Booker Group (BOK) 156.30p -2.25%
Atkins (WS) (ATK) 1,428.00p -2.19%
Bellway (BWY) 1,605.00p -2.19%