- Markets rangebound ahead of US jobs report
- FTSE 100 at highest in two months
- Ukraine tensions limit gains
- RBS doubles pre-tax profits in first quarter
- IHG unveils special divi after strong start
techMARK 2,793.80 +0.19%
FTSE 100 6,818.58 +0.14%
FTSE 250 15,922.13 +0.45%
Strong gains from Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) pushed UK markets higher on Friday, though gains were only modest as investors treaded with caution ahead of the US jobs report this afternoon.
RBS and IHG were each trading around 9% higher by lunchtime after impressing investors with their first-quarter results.
Nevertheless, London's FTSE 100, which closed at a two-month high of 6,808.87 on Thursday, was up just 0.1% at 6,817 by midday, having traded within a narrow range of 10 points or so for the majority of the morning.
Heightened turmoil in Eastern Europe was also weighing on risk appetite today on reports that Ukraine has launched a military operation to regain control of Slovyansk, where pro-Russian activists had barricaded themselves into government buildings.
According to a Kremlin spokesman, the action has killed hopes for the 'de-escalation' agreement reached between the two countries in Geneva last month.
All eyes will be on the US employment report due out at 13:30 with economists predicting a 215,000 rise in non-farm payrolls for April, up from 192,000 the month before. The unemployment rate is expected to dip to 6.6% from 6.7%.
However, some analysts believe that there could be an upside surprise in the data, as the US economy bounces back from the winter-induced weakness that has plagued recent economic indicators.
"A number of indicators has pointed to a solid rebound in activity in March and April (personal spending, ISM, industrial production) and this is expected to be reflected in payrolls as well," said analysts at Danske Bank.
RBS jumps as profits rise
RBS pleased investors after saying that pre-tax profit surged to £1.64bn in the first three months of 2013, up from £826m the year before and ahead of forecasts. This came despite a 2% fall in income to £5.05bn, as expenses fell 6% and impairment losses dropped 65%."The first-quarter [statement] appears at first read to be way above consensus and our forecast," said Analyst Mike Trippitt at Numis Securities.
A special dividend and a strong first-quarter performance were plated up for IHG shareholders today, after it delivered its best 'RevPAR' performance in seven quarters.
Beverage cans maker Rexam fell after saying that regional trading conditions were mixed in the first quarter. The company also announced that foreign exchange
movements will be a headwind going forward, while metal premiums are at record highs. Packaging peer Mondi was also lower.
AstraZeneca was swinging between gains and losses this morning after US pharma giant Pfizer lifted its takeover offer by 7.2% to £50 per share, valuing the company at £63bn. However, Anglo-Swedish group rejected the offer, saying that the new terms are "inadequate" and "substantially undervalue" the company.
Telecoms group TalkTalk was on the rise after Berenberg upgraded the stock to 'hold', while Taylor Wimpey and Redrow were benefiting from upgrades by Citigroup to 'buy'.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 333.50p +8.77%
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 2,197.00p +8.55%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 224.30p +1.65%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 373.30p +1.33%
Weir Group (WEIR) 2,667.00p +1.25%
ITV (ITV) 188.90p +1.23%
Old Mutual (OML) 202.90p +1.20%
Kingfisher (KGF) 422.60p +1.10%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,767.00p +1.09%
BT Group (BT.A) 380.90p +1.01%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,928.00p -2.30%
Mondi (MNDI) 964.50p -1.83%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,193.00p -1.81%
Rexam (REX) 501.50p -1.67%
Reed Elsevier (REL) 872.50p -1.30%
Pearson (PSON) 1,088.00p -1.27%
Smiths Group (SMIN) 1,326.00p -1.12%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 892.00p -0.94%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,417.00p -0.93%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 1,032.00p -0.77%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Redrow (RDW) 308.10p +5.73%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 246.60p +4.45%
Serco Group (SRP) 354.40p +4.24%
TalkTalk Telecom Group (TALK) 300.00p +4.02%
Rentokil Initial (RTO) 122.90p +3.54%
Howden Joinery Group (HWDN) 340.20p +3.53%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 108.80p +3.32%
Berkeley Group Holdings (The) (BKG) 2,415.00p +3.03%
Bellway (BWY) 1,483.00p +2.91%
Lonmin (LMI) 287.20p +2.83%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Pace (PIC) 348.80p -3.81%
Brown (N.) Group (BWNG) 473.00p -2.81%
Playtech (PTEC) 641.50p -2.21%
Petra Diamonds Ltd.(DI) (PDL) 160.00p -2.08%
Riverstone Energy Limited (RSE) 891.50p -2.03%
Ladbrokes (LAD) 150.90p -2.01%
Synergy Health (SYR) 1,242.00p -1.82%
Phoenix Group Holdings (DI) (PHNX) 680.00p -1.66%
AL Noor Hospitals Group (ANH) 1,012.00p -1.56%
Greencore Group (GNC) 261.90p -1.43%