- BP gains after Rosneft offer
- Markets cautious ahead of EU summit
- Chinese economic data impresses
The Footsie was trading within a narrow range of just 22 points on Thursday morning as investors showed caution ahead of the upcoming EU summit in Brussels this afternoon.
The UK benchmark was flat by lunchtime despite decent gains for mining stocks and oil giant BP after Rosneft offered to buy the company's share in TNK-BP.
Markets will keep a close eye on the meeting at which leaders are expected to discuss several topics such as the bailout for Spain, the situation in Greece and the banking union although only this last item is officially on the agenda.
Despite the enormous importance of the issues at stake, and as is often the case, market expectations are low ahead of this meeting of the heads of state of the 27 member countries. It's no wonder as there have been some 22 summits since the crisis in Greece began to intensify in 2009, including four already in 2012 alone.
Last night saw the release of some solid economic figures from China, giving mining stocks a lift in London. The data show a moderate acceleration in activity and came alongside better-than-expected prints for retail sales, industrial production and fixed asset investments.
China's gross domestic product (GDP) grew at a 7.4% year-on-year rate in the third quarter of the year as expected, down from the 7.6% in quarter two. While this was the slowest rate of expansion in 12 years - except for that seen in the first quarter of 2009 - economists reckons that they can see hopeful signs which point to a stabilisation, such as a better tone to exports and a progressive improvement in residential investment.
In domestic economic news, UK retail sales volumes rose 0.6% from August to September, according to the Office for National Statistics. Consensus expectations were for a gain of 0.4%.
Analyst Blerina Uruci from Barclays Research said: "Although not all headwinds facing the sector have disappeared, with consumer confidence and household income growth likely to remain well below historical levels, we expect the sector to stabilise in the coming months. More generally, we expect private consumption to be broadly flat for the second half of this year before it starts a measured recovery from the beginning of next year."
FTSE 100: Miners and retailers lifted by economic data
Robust economic figures from China were boosting the share prices
of the miners today with Kazakhmys, ENRC and EVRAZ performing well. EVRAZ, the steel, mining and vanadium group, was in demand even though it saw production decrease in the third quarter while prices were hit by tough conditions in global steel markets.
Supermarket giants Tesco, Morrison and Sainsbury's were on shopping lists this morning after the better-than-expected retail sales data.
Oil titan BP was making gains after Rosneft offer $28bn in cash and shares
for its 50% interest in Russian joint venture TNK-BP.
Sector peer Royal Dutch Shell was heading the other way after Goldman Sachs lowered its recommendation for the oil titan to 'sell' and cut its target price for the shares from 2,840p to 2,260p.
Drinks giant SABMiller was also among the fallers this morning despite seeing good growth in lager volumes shipped across most regions in the first half of its financial year. Weighing on the shares was a ratings downgrade by Shore Capital to 'hold'.
FTSE 250: Go-Ahead, Booker and Jupiter on the up
There was a flurry of interim management statement (IMSs) on the second-tier index this morning, providing some movement in share prices early on.
Transport group Go-Ahead said that trading in the first quarter has been strong as it announced a new ambitious target for profit growth in its bus division. The company said bus operating profit should be £100m by 2015/16, compared with the £64-70m range over the past five years.
Cash and carry chain Booker gained after saying that like-for-like sales rose 3.1% for the 24 weeks to September 14th. Meanwhile, fund manager Jupiter rose after saying that assets under management increased from £23.37bn to £25.0bn in the three months to the end of September.
Man Group was a heavy faller despite a 14% rise in funds under management in the third quarter. Business published and events organiser UBM was out of favour after missing revenue forecasts in the third quarter.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 780.00p +2.63%
Resolution Ltd. (RSL) 223.20p +2.43%
IMI (IMI) 932.00p +2.25%
Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. (ENRC) 360.10p +2.24%
Evraz (EVR) 258.10p +2.18%
Wolseley (WOS) 2,749.00p +1.97%
Glencore International (GLEN) 354.35p +1.94%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 177.55p +1.60%
Xstrata (XTA) 1,009.50p +1.60%
Tesco (TSCO) 321.25p +1.56%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Capital Shopping Centres Group (CSCG) 333.00p -1.91%
SSE (SSE) 1,434.00p -1.65%
Unilever (ULVR) 2,311.00p -1.49%
SABMiller (SAB) 2,620.00p -1.30%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 7,645.00p -1.29%
Diageo (DGE) 1,748.00p -1.16%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 657.50p -1.13%
Bunzl (BNZL) 1,087.00p -1.09%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 3,631.00p -1.06%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 2,210.00p -1.01%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Go-Ahead Group (GOG) 1,382.00p +7.13%
Booker Group (BOK) 99.25p +5.19%
Jupiter Fund Management (JUP) 274.10p +3.90%
Fenner (FENR) 372.20p +3.22%
International Personal Finance (IPF) 342.20p +2.92%
Henderson Group (HGG) 122.10p +2.86%
Bwin.party Digital Entertainment (BPTY) 123.60p +2.83%
Brown (N.) Group (BWNG) 309.50p +2.82%
Cookson Group (CKSN) 558.50p +2.67%
Redrow (RDW) 163.70p +2.50%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Man Group (EMG) 83.60p -9.67%
UBM (UBM) 688.50p -4.71%
Bumi (BUMI) 243.00p -4.33%
Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group (JLT) 748.00p -3.23%
Petra Diamonds Ltd.(DI) (PDL) 100.90p -3.07%
Capital & Counties Properties (CAPC) 225.50p -2.72%
Elementis (ELM) 225.10p -2.13%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 760.50p -1.87%
Victrex (VCT) 1,398.00p -1.69%
Ophir Energy (OPHR) 564.00p -1.66%