- Sports Direct gains as momentum stocks recovery
- Tesco, Burberry and Persimmon impress with results
- UK unemployment declines, China data mixed
- Ukraine crisis escalates
techMARK 2,642.64 +0.45%
FTSE 100 6,562.09 +0.31%
FTSE 250 15,694.83 +0.67%
A recovery by so-called 'momentum' stocks and a host of well-received corporate earnings gave UK markets a lift on Wednesday, helping the FTSE 100 to bounce off a three-week low.
Sports Direct surged as bargain hunters stepped in after its recent falls, while Tesco, Burberry and Persimmon all impressed with their results. Stocks were also tracking gains made on Wall Street last night after heavyweights Intel and Yahoo! cheered investors.
Meanwhile, a sharper-than-expected drop in UK unemployment boosted markets this morning, though upside was limited as investors monitored developments in Ukraine.
Analysts also noted that trading volumes across global financial markets were likely to be low over the remainder of the week ahead of the four-day break for Easter this weekend.
The FTSE 100 was trading 0.3% higher at 6,562 by midday, coming off a high of 6,596.99 early on. The index closed at 6,541.61 on Tuesday, its lowest finish since March 24th, on concerns about heightened turmoil in Ukraine.
Tensions still remain high today as Ukrainian government forces clashed with separatist pro-Russian militia in eastern Ukraine. The Kiev government trying to assert control before Thursday's Geneva meeting at which the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers are due to meet for the first time in front of the US and the European Union.
UK unemployment dropped unexpectedly to 6.9% for the three months to February, down from 7.2% in the previous three months and below the consensus forecast of 7.1%.
Economic data from China came in mixed this morning, with annualised economic growth slowing from 7.7% to 7.4% in the first quarter. This was ahead of analysts' estimates but below the government's 7.5% growth target for the full year.
Meanwhile, Chinese industrial production and fixed asset investment growth for March missed consensus forecasts, while retail sales came in slightly ahead.
Sports Direct recovers, updates impress
Sports Direct, IAG and Ashtead have all been under heavy selling pressure over the past week as investors took profits following some impressive gains over the last year. These stocks, however, were performing well today with Sports Direct the stand-out performer, rising nearly 6% after Bank of America Merrill Lynch raised its target price and said that the market is underestimating the company's international and online growth prospects.
Similarly, high-growth stocks such as Thomas Cook and Ocado were also recovering after a recent sell-off.
Tesco profits fell for the first time in 20 years, but shares
gained as the decline was not as bad as analysts predicted. A 6.7% fall in group trading profit to £3.32bn was still marginally ahead of consensus analyst forecasts of £3.24bn.
Burberry was higher despite the high end fashion brand warning of "material" currency headwinds this year, after the company reported 19% underlying revenue growth in the second half.
Housebuilder Persimmon also gained after saying total forward sales revenue increased 35% from 2013 as it starts off its new financial year on a strong footing.
However, Hargreaves Lansdown quickly erased gains and sunk into the red despite saying it amassed a record level of assets under administration and net inflows in the first three months of the year.
Engineer Weir Group gained after the board of Finnish peer Metso rejected its proposal to merge the two companies. Weir said it made an "attractive" offer and "there is no certainty that it will revise the terms of its proposal".
Energy services group Hunting declined after saying that trading in the first quarter was slower than expected due to poor weather in North America and project delays in Asia Pacific.
Packaging group DS Smith was higher after JPMorgan Cazenove said that the recent de-rating on the stock has created an opportunity for investors ahead of its pre-close update at the end of the month. The stock trades at similar multiples to the sector but "deserves a premium".
BAE Systems was trading lower after going ex-dividend today, along with Melrose, Capita and Premier Oil. ARM Holdings also went ex-dividend but was inching higher this morning as investors reacted to results from global sector peers ASML and Intel.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Sports Direct International (SPD) 791.00p +6.10%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 870.50p +2.96%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,461.00p +2.74%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 385.80p +2.55%
ITV (ITV) 177.50p +2.25%
Tesco (TSCO) 292.70p +2.24%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,749.00p +2.22%
WPP (WPP) 1,241.00p +1.89%
Next (NXT) 6,350.00p +1.84%
St James's Place (STJ) 756.00p +1.82%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,154.00p -4.71%
BAE (BA.) 375.00p -4.31%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 278.50p -1.42%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 860.00p -1.32%
Fresnillo (FRES) 890.50p -1.22%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 369.10p -1.07%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,512.00p -1.05%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 92.20p -0.49%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 317.90p -0.47%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 2,379.50p -0.44%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Britvic (BVIC) 706.50p +4.20%
Smith (DS) (SMDS) 314.20p +3.97%
Brown (N.) Group (BWNG) 518.00p +3.75%
Big Yellow Group (BYG) 517.00p +3.61%
Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) 440.90p +3.59%
Homeserve (HSV) 327.50p +3.41%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 1,650.00p +3.12%
Carphone Warehouse Group (CPW) 308.40p +2.97%
Supergroup (SGP) 1,489.00p +2.90%
Halfords Group (HFD) 442.30p +2.81%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Amlin (AML) 442.60p -4.98%
Lancashire Holdings Limited (LRE) 680.00p -3.13%
COLT Group SA (COLT) 144.00p -3.03%
Hunting (HTG) 832.00p -2.29%
Bwin.party Digital Entertainment (BPTY) 119.90p -1.96%
Soco International (SIA) 405.50p -1.67%
Polymetal International (POLY) 606.50p -1.38%
Premier Oil (PMO) 306.90p -1.16%
Serco Group (SRP) 407.90p -1.16%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 105.70p -1.12%