- Markets trim losses to finish flat
- Geopolitics in focus with aid on its way to Ukraine
- German ZEW survey disappoints
- Prudential, Just Eat, Ladbrokes and Serco rise after results
techMARK 2,726.95 -0.02%
FTSE 100 6,630.32 -0.04%
FTSE 250 15,498.56 +0.24%
UK stocks had clawed back losses and were trading more or less flat by Tuesday lunchtime as investors continued to watch geopolitical developments across the globe.
Well-received results from the likes of Prudential, Just Eat, Serco and Ladbrokes and a decent performance from travel stocks were limiting the downside in London.
The FTSE 100 was down just 0.04% at 6,630, having touched a low of 6,617.31 early on.
The index advanced 1% on Monday on the back of improved newsflow from Iraq, Gaza and Ukraine. In particular, investors welcomed the news of Russia stopping military exercises near the eastern border of Ukraine over the weekend.
Ukraine and Russia are now said to have agreed on a Red Cross-led humanitarian aid mission in Luhansk, where thousands of people are without access to water, power and medical help. However, there were conflicting reports that said that the Red Cross was still waiting for information about the contents of a Russian convoy before agreeing to a mission. Meanwhile, with Ukrainian officials claiming that up to 45,000 Russian troops remain close to the frontier, tensions between the neighbouring nations are still high with developments having the potential to spark volatile moves on financial markets.
Elsewhere, Iraq plunged deeper into political crisis late on Monday, as embattled Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki refused to step aside to allow his successor, Haida al-Abadi, to form a new government.
In economic data on Tuesday, German investor confidence declined significantly in August due to geopolitical tensions, the German ZEW survey said. The economic sentiment for Germany dropped to a worse-than-expected 8.6 in August from 27.1 in July. It marked the eighth consecutive decrease and reached its lowest level since December 2012.
Prudential leads gains
Insurer Prudential impressed the market on Tuesday after the insurer's US and Asia businesses helped to boost first-half group operating profits by 17% to £1.52bn despite a drop in UK annuity sales sparked by government pension changes.
FTSE 250 online takeaway marketplace Just Eat said profits trebled in the first half of 2014 on the back of strong demand and accelerating growth in mobile. The company said pre-tax profit was up 200% at £6m on revenues that jumped by 58% to £69.8m, causing shares
to surge in morning trade.
High street bookie Ladbrokes was a high riser after saying it delivered on its key operational objectives in the first six months of 2014, as a good World Cup performance pushed revenues higher 4% to £589.3m. However, profits fell by nearly 50% as a result of "industry-wide customer-friendly results".
Support services group Serco was also making gains despite reporting "poor" first-half trading and predicted challenges ahead. Investors, however, welcomed the news that it had reduced net debt and appointed a new finance chief.
RSA Insurance was also in demand after Credit Suisse upgraded the stock from 'underperform' to 'neutral', saying that the stock's valuation is not demanding. African Barrick Gold was also higher after Investec upgraded the stock from 'sell' to 'hold'.
In contrast, financial services group Hargreaves Lansdown slumped after UBS initiated coverage of the stock with a 'sell' rating, saying that the "risk-reward [is] significantly skewed to the downside".
Royal Dutch Shell was lower on the news that it is set to cut around 250 jobs at its onshore North Sea oil operations in Aberdeen. The wider oil sector was tracking the price of crude lower in morning trade with Ophir Energy, BP and Tullow all registering losses.
Travel and leisure stocks were on the rise, with Easyjet, IAG, TUI Travel and Carnival performing well.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Prudential (PRU) 1,360.00p +1.57%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,273.00p +1.19%
Pearson (PSON) 1,133.00p +1.16%
TUI Travel (TT.) 364.60p +1.14%
Barclays (BARC) 218.60p +1.09%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 334.70p +1.06%
Carnival (CCL) 2,213.00p +1.00%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 429.50p +0.92%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 631.60p +0.91%
BAE Systems (BA.) 431.80p +0.75%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,050.00p -2.87%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 2,950.00p -1.67%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 891.50p -1.65%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 2,492.00p -1.29%
Shire Plc (SHP) 4,705.00p -1.24%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,015.00p -0.98%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 165.20p -0.96%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 836.50p -0.95%
Tesco (TSCO) 243.95p -0.95%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 2,377.00p -0.92%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Just Eat (JE.) 242.00p +10.25%
AO World (AO.) 214.50p +7.25%
Serco Group (SRP) 343.10p +4.32%
Domino Printing Sciences (DNO) 625.50p +3.56%
Ladbrokes (LAD) 134.00p +2.68%
Rathbone Brothers (RAT) 2,085.00p +2.66%
Restaurant Group (RTN) 643.00p +2.55%
Dechra Pharmaceuticals (DPH) 708.50p +2.53%
Beazley (BEZ) 248.20p +2.31%
Electrocomponents (ECM) 237.60p +2.06%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Ophir Energy (OPHR) 198.50p -3.03%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 132.20p -3.01%
Regus (RGU) 175.40p -2.56%
Balfour Beatty (BBY) 237.90p -2.10%
SIG (SHI) 169.00p -1.74%
Brit (BRIT) 238.60p -1.41%
Elementis (ELM) 281.00p -1.37%
Dixons Carphone (DC.) 325.60p -1.33%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 744.00p -1.26%
Amec (AMEC) 1,094.00p -1.26%