- FTSE 100 nears two-week high, S&P 500
to retest records
- US GDP revisions due out this afternoon
- Smith & Nephew extends gains amid M&A speculation
- Kingfisher disappoints with Q1 results
techMARK 2,815.99 +0.58%
FTSE 100 6,872.56 +0.31%
FTSE 250 16,017.89 +0.52%
UK stocks were heading towards a two-week high on Thursday ahead of key macro data from the States, with Wall Street expected to resume its positive trend this afternoon.
The FTSE 100 was trading 0.3% higher at 6,873 in early trading. The benchmark index has not finished above this level since May 14th when it settled at a new 14-year high of 6,878.49.
Stock futures in the States were showing small gains after a marginal fall on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 likely to retest record highs seen earlier in the week ahead of revisions to US economic growth estimates due out at 13:30. Markets across Europe were trading slightly lower with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index tracking near a six-year high.
The market widely expects annualised growth to be revised down to -0.5%, from the initial reading of +0.1%, with "weaker private inventories and business structures [...] likely to drive the revision", according to analysts at UniCredit.
Speculation surrounding a new round of Chinese stimulus could be a factor behind the positive moves seen this morning. Analysts at Barclays said they see an "increasing probability that more significant monetary easing [...] will be announced in the coming weeks".
Comments from Monetary Policy Committee member Martin Weale were in focus today after he said policymakers will need to lift interest rates from record-low levels "sooner rather than later".
In an interview with the Financial Times that will likely bring forward expectations of a rate raise, Weale said the central bank must act soon to avoid a sharper and more painful tightening in policy in the future. "If you want to have baby steps you do have to start sooner," he told the UK paper.
Trading volumes across Europe were said to be on the low side today with benchmark indices in countries such as Austria, Switzerland and Sweden closed for Ascension Day.
Smith & Nephew gains, Kingfisher slumps
Medical device maker Smith & Nephew was a high riser again after reports yesterday suggested that US peer Stryker was working on a bid of the firm. While the rumours were denied by Stryker, Smith & Nephew's share price was continuing to extend gains this morning after Credit Suisse said it sees "merger synergies of about 160-195p/S&N share" if the hypothetical deal were to go ahead.
DIY retailer Kingfisher dropped despite hailing a "strong start to the year" as 20% growth in retail profits in the first quarter came in shy of analysts' expectations. Group sales growth of 6.1% also failed to impress.
Aggreko the temporary power and temperature control services group, was a heavy faller after saying that interim Chief Executive Officer Angus Cockburn will be replaced on a permanent basis by Centrica board member Chris Weston. Cockburn, who stepped in after previous boss Rupert Soames quit earlier this year, is "keen to seek fresh challenges", the company said.
IMI was trading higher after UBS lifted its rating on the stock from 'neutral' to 'buy', saying that growth rates at the engineering group have the potential to double in the medium term.
Engineering peer Weir was also in positive territory after walking away from its pursuit of Finnish rival Metso yesterday, as Chief Executive Keith Cochrane told reporters that the company is still looking at other acquisition opportunities.
UK water company Severn Trent quickly erased losses and was in demand after an initial fall as it reported annual earnings in line with consensus, although revenues were slightly short of expectations.
Supermarket giant Tesco gained after completing the deal to create a joint venture with China Resources Enterprise, merging its Chinese operations with the largest food retailer in the country.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 1,034.00p +4.08%
Pearson (PSON) 1,167.00p +1.74%
Weir Group (WEIR) 2,629.00p +1.74%
IMI (IMI) 1,585.00p +1.54%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 201.90p +1.51%
Tesco (TSCO) 305.25p +1.31%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 339.60p +1.22%
Diageo (DGE) 1,903.00p +1.20%
SSE (SSE) 1,561.00p +1.17%
William Hill (WMH) 350.20p +1.13%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Kingfisher (KGF) 397.20p -4.82%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,701.00p -2.74%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 3,276.00p -2.03%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,685.00p -1.92%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,334.00p -1.62%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 364.30p -1.25%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 1,355.00p -0.95%
Prudential (PRU) 1,395.50p -0.75%
Hammerson (HMSO) 594.50p -0.59%
Shire Plc (SHP) 3,436.00p -0.58%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Man Group (EMG) 99.80p +5.27%
Evraz (EVR) 108.60p +4.62%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 232.80p +3.98%
Domino's Pizza Group (DOM) 552.50p +3.95%
Ladbrokes (LAD) 148.20p +3.56%
Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) 418.60p +3.41%
Booker Group (BOK) 144.10p +3.37%
Tate & Lyle (TATE) 696.50p +3.26%
Partnership Assurance Group (PA.) 130.70p +2.91%
Genus (GNS) 1,066.00p +2.90%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Redrow (RDW) 271.90p -2.26%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 218.00p -1.89%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 109.20p -1.80%
ITE Group (ITE) 235.80p -1.42%
Fisher (James) & Sons (FSJ) 1,319.00p -1.35%
888 Holdings (888) 126.20p -1.33%
Perform Group (PER) 264.50p -1.31%
Home Retail Group (HOME) 194.30p -1.27%
Rank Group (RNK) 158.00p -1.25%
Close Brothers Group (CBG) 1,349.00p -1.17%