- CPI above forecasts due to impact of Easter
- China faces arduous task meeting growth target
- Russia being pulled into a second Cold War
techMARK 2,716.85 -0.10%
FTSE 100 6,814.89 -0.43%
FTSE 250 15,454.01 +0.48%
Stocks were holding slightly lower come midday following the release of a bit higher than expected reading on consumer price pressures in the UK.
Consumer prices advanced at a 1.8% year-on-year clip in April, after a print of 1.6% in the month before, while core prices jumped to 2% from 1.6% in March.
Economists, however, were quick to point out that the rise was entirely due to the impact of a later Easter this year.
In a note to clients Samuel Tombs at Capital Economics wrote that: "[...] the increase in CPI inflation from 1.6% to 1.8% in April (and core inflation from 1.6% to 2%) almost entirely reflects the impact of the later timing of Easter [...]
"Moreover, the trend in CPI inflation should still be down over the course of the rest of 2014 thanks to the recent stability of commodity prices, sharp falls in import prices and the intensification of competition between supermarkets and retailers."
Acting as a backdrop, sentiment in stocks may also have been weighed upon by a statement from China's Commerce Ministry saying the country faces an arduous task in meeting its target for 7.5% growth in gross domestic product this year.
Russia has prepared retaliatory measures
As well, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told Bloomberg News that his country is being pulled into a second Cold War with the US and its allies.
In an interview with the aforementioned newswire Medvedev indicated that Russia has prepared a raft of retaliatory steps in response to potentially wider sanctions imposed by the US and the European Union.
That comes as the world continues to watch for signs that Russian forces are indeed pulling back from the country's borders with Ukraine.
A report from Interfax, which cited Russia's Defence Ministry, said that "Russian troops have been ordered to pull back after drills in south-western Russia".
Sales drop 1.4 per cent at Marks&Spencer's general merchandise division
In this morning's company news, Marks and Spencer (M&S) reported a 3.9% fall in annual pre-tax profit to £623m, reflecting a drop in sales at the struggling general merchandise division. General merchandise, the clothing arm which has recently undergone a rapid transformation to turn business around, saw like-for-like sales fall 1.4% in the year ended March 29th. Total UK like-for-like sales rose 0.2% as food sales increased 1.7%.
Legal & General said it has completed the acquisition of Global Index Advisors, giving the UK insurer a bigger foothold in the US pensions market. The acquisition, by Legal & General Investment Management America (LGIMA), is for an initial payment of $30.75m with deferred consideration of $1.5m payable over two years from the date of completion. Further payments of up to a maximum of $18.15m will be made over three years from the date of completion.
Vodafone's earnings fell 7.4% in the year to end-March as the mobile operator confirmed its expected final dividend of 7.47p per share. Chief Executive Vittorio Colao admitted the group's performance had been "mixed", with competitive, regulatory and macroeconomic pressures leading to several write-downs in Europe.
Home emergency repair group HomeServe said costs related to the mis-selling of insurance products ate into full-year profit but it is confident of future progress as it looks to the US for growth opportunities. Statutory pre-tax profit fell to £24.4m for the year ended March 31st 2014 from £66.5m before.
Convenience store food producer Greencore Group reported an 8.2% rise in first half revenue to £619.8m , driven by store openings by major retailers. The company said a rise in employment and a milder winter also boosted revenue in the six months to March 28th, despite a challenging UK grocery market.
Insurer RSA is selling its majority-owned Canadian insurance brokerage business Noraxis Capital Corporation to a subsidiary of Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. for 500m Canadian dollars.
ITV was upgraded to 'hold' versus 'sell' at broker Berenberg, while AstraZeneca was added to Citi's Focus List Europe overnight.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Carnival (CCL) 2,401.00p +4.30%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 835.00p +2.20%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 350.40p +2.16%
ITV (ITV) 176.50p +2.14%
BT Group (BT.A) 379.00p +2.13%
Whitbread (WTB) 4,024.00p +2.08%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 378.20p +2.00%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 1,364.00p +1.34%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,637.00p +1.30%
GKN (GKN) 375.40p +1.24%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Vodafone Group (VOD) 208.50p -3.98%
Tesco (TSCO) 306.00p -1.92%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 210.10p -1.82%
TUI Travel (TT.) 398.70p -1.80%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 338.90p -1.77%
BG Group (BG.) 1,276.00p -1.58%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 443.90p -1.57%
G4S (GFS) 253.80p -1.55%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 841.00p -1.41%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,720.00p -1.32%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Greencore Group (GNC) 269.80p +9.19%
Homeserve (HSV) 343.40p +8.29%
Paragon Group Of Companies (PAG) 374.60p +7.00%
Pace (PIC) 359.40p +5.89%
NMC Health (NMC) 461.40p +4.63%
Foxtons Group (FOXT) 299.60p +4.43%
Rightmove (RMV) 2,238.00p +4.09%
Close Brothers Group (CBG) 1,336.00p +4.05%
Supergroup (SGP) 998.00p +3.53%
SIG (SHI) 181.50p +3.48%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Afren (AFR) 147.50p -4.28%
Entertainment One Limited (ETO) 270.10p -3.19%
Intermediate Capital Group (ICP) 417.10p -2.89%
Dixons Retail (DXNS) 43.40p -2.73%
Lonmin (LMI) 235.50p -2.57%
Booker Group (BOK) 137.20p -2.49%
Cobham (COB) 304.80p -2.37%
Soco International (SIA) 414.30p -2.01%
COLT Group SA (COLT) 135.30p -1.96%
Ladbrokes (LAD) 131.30p -1.87%