- Banking, housing stocks provide a boost
- Kingfisher, Easyjet slump after results
- Ukraine still in focus as Russian sanctions discussed
- Eurozone PMI improves, UK retail sales fall
techMARK 2,821.65 -0.06%
FTSE 100 6,802.89 +0.07%
FTSE 250 15,726.48 0.00%
UK stocks managed to turn around after a weak start, with rising banking and housing stocks offsetting a negative reaction to the latest results from Kingfisher and Easyjet.
Housebuilders in particular were performing well as data showing a surprise dip in UK retail sales sparked hopes that policymakers will hold back from hiking interest rates.
The FTSE 100, which touched a low of 6,767.33 early on, was trading 0.1% higher at 6,803 by midday.
Nevertheless, investors still remained cautious amid the possibility of tougher economic sanctions on Russia as the European Commission meets to discuss potential new measures in the aftermath of the shooting down of flight MH17.
According to a proposal seen by the Financial Times, new sanctions could include the banning of all Europeans from purchasing new debt or stock issued by Russia's largest banks.
Eurozone PMI, UK retail sales
Economic data was back in focus today after a quiet few days on the macro calendar.
The eurozone composite purchasing managers' index (PMI), which measures activity in both the manufacturing and service sectors, rose to a three-month high of 54 in July, surprising analysts who had expected no change from 52.8 in June.
UK retail sales unexpectedly fell 0.1% in June, compared with the 0.3% growth predicted and the previous month's 0.5% decline.Markit's Chris Williams said that the easing of sales trends in May and June supports the view that growth will moderate in the second half. He said: "Such an easing leaves the door open for interest rates to remain on hold at least until early next year."
Overnight, the HSBC China manufacturing PMI for July improved from 50.7 to 52, showing that growth had picked up faster than analysts' expectations (forecast: 51).
Banks and housebuilders gain; Kingfisher and Easyjet slump
Banking stocks were leading the risers in London this morning with HSBC, Barclays and RBS all making gains. However, StanChart inched lower after having to swat away rumours that Chief Executive Peter Sands or Chairman Sir John Peace might be replaced in light of recent disappointing results.
Housebuilders were also making gains, including Persimmon, Barratt Developments and Bovis Homes.
After a strong start to the year, DIY retailer Kingfisher's like-for-like sales reversed into the red in the second quarter with trading "slower than anticipated", leading the stock to sink by 7% this morning.
Budget airline Easyjet was also a heavy faller, dropping 4% despite confirming its full-year profit will rise at least 14%, in line with City forecasts. That came after it posted an 8.6% rise in third-quarter revenue, driven by higher passenger numbers, an improved load factor and the timing of Easter.
In contrast, sector peer IAG saw shares
jump after saying that its Iberia airline has reached an agreement with trade unions on collective redundancies for pilots and ground staff as part of its transformation plan. "This could lead to a reduction of up to 1,427 jobs at the airline."
Consumer goods company Unilever erased earlier losses even though it reported a lower-than-expected increase in second-quarter sales, blaming a deterioration in emerging markets and flat developed markets.
Reed Elsevier was a bright spark after reporting that underlying trends remain strong, enabling the business publishing and information company to drive a 5% improvement in profits in the first half.
On the FTSE 250, Lancashire Holdings, Howden Joinery, De La Rue and Halma were all higher after updates and results, while Electrocomponents and CSR disappointed with earnings.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Reed Elsevier (REL) 974.50p +3.78%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 620.20p +2.12%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,319.00p +1.93%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 340.60p +1.58%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 928.00p +1.53%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 373.80p +1.27%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,047.00p +1.26%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 3,057.00p +1.16%
Barclays (BARC) 213.30p +1.11%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 326.70p +0.96%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Kingfisher (KGF) 311.00p -7.44%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,339.00p -4.56%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,506.00p -2.21%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,171.00p -2.17%
Fresnillo (FRES) 924.00p -1.75%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,571.00p -1.63%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 5,045.00p -1.27%
Sage Group (SGE) 372.50p -1.19%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 171.10p -1.16%
Meggitt (MGGT) 529.00p -1.03%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Howden Joinery Group (HWDN) 333.10p +6.90%
Lancashire Holdings Limited (LRE) 640.50p +5.78%
Inchcape (INCH) 662.50p +3.92%
Rank Group (RNK) 161.30p +3.00%
Domino Printing Sciences (DNO) 627.00p +2.96%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 117.80p +2.26%
Just Retirement Group (JRG) 142.50p +2.08%
WH Smith (SMWH) 1,127.00p +1.81%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 265.70p +1.72%
Ted Baker (TED) 1,722.00p +1.71%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Electrocomponents (ECM) 242.50p -6.08%
Ladbrokes (LAD) 133.60p -3.95%
William Hill (WMH) 342.00p -3.42%
Thomas Cook Group (TCG) 118.70p -2.94%
Polymetal International (POLY) 535.00p -2.64%
CSR (CSR) 569.00p -2.40%
Drax Group (DRX) 694.50p -2.18%
Perform Group (PER) 213.60p -2.02%
Tullett Prebon (TLPR) 247.00p -1.98%
Evraz (EVR) 97.75p -1.96%