- ECB, US jobs data in focus this afternoon
- UK and Eurozone services PMIs weaken
- Balfour Beatty disappoints as Engineering Services worsens
- Antofagasta rises on shake-up plans in Chile
techMARK 2,848.70 +0.57%
FTSE 100 6,851.75 +0.52%
FTSE 250 15,998.50 +0.64%
The FTSE 100 was putting in decent gains on Thursday as investors took an optimistic approach ahead of two key risk events for financial markets this afternoon: the European Central Bank (ECB) decision and US jobs report.
By midday, London's benchmark index was trading 0.5% higher at around 6,852. It has not closed above this level since June 10th when it settled at 6,873.55.
"The break above 6,800 is one of the most positive signs we have witnessed for the FTSE 100 in a number of days," said Chris Beauchamp from IG.
"Of course, the closer we get to 6,880 the more nervousness will increase, but the turnaround in bullish sentiment in recent days means we might, finally, see a break of this level and then on to 6,900." He said that yesterday's close on the FTSE 100 above its 50-day moving averages "certainly puts the bias towards more upside".
After the extraordinary measures announced at the ECB meeting in June, investors are not expecting any fresh policy action when the central bank unveils its policy decision at 12:45, though comments from ECB President Mario Draghi will be closely watched as markets look for more details on last month's package.
As for the US labour market data, analysts expect 215,000 non-farm payrolls to have been added in June, down from 217,000 the previous month. However, risk is now on the upside after data from the ADP Research Institute yesterday showed that private-sector hiring smashed forecasts last month. ADP said that private payrolls jumped by 281,000 in June, compared with just 179,000 in May and the 205,000 consensus estimate.
Investors across Europe seemingly shrugged off economic data this morning which showed that growth in the UK services sector slowed more than expected in June, with Markit/CIPS purchasing managers' index (PMI) easing to 57.7 from 58.6. Meanwhile the final reading of the Eurozone services PMI was unchanged at 52.8, as expected, but down from the prior month's reading of 53.5.
Balfour disappoints again
Balfour Beatty's shares
dropped sharply after the infrastructure firm, which shocked the market with a profit warning in May, highlighted a "further worsening" in the trading performance of its mechanical and electrical engineering activities. Engineering Services is now being reviewed after the company identified a "further £35m profit shortfall" in the first half, though this will be offset by more gains from the disposal of public-private partnership (PPP) concessions in the Infrastructure Investments division, meaning that full-year profit guidance has been maintained.
Results from pubs group Greene King also failed to please this morning with results. A growing appetite among consumers for eating out in pubs helped the company to serve up tastier annual profits, although it warned that consumers were still cautious.
Mining stocks were mostly higher with copper producer Antofagasta leading the risers on reports that the group is to cut jobs and costs as it combines its El Tesoro and Esperanza mines under a new company. A director from the board said in an interview with Bloomberg yesterday that the mines, located in the Centinela region of Chile, will come under one management from next week. Fresnillo and Anglo American wee also in demand.
Poundland shares were up after a robust set of maiden results from the budget retailer was swiftly followed by first-quarter results that showed growth momentum has improved into the new financial year and that it had opened a first store in Spain's Costa del Sol.
Tullow Oil was higher after striking oil at its 20%-owned Hanssen wildcat well offshore Norway, which it estimates carries up to 50m barrels of recoverable oil.
Sports apparel retailer Sports Direct was also rising strongly after shareholders yesterday narrowly voted through a bonus scheme that will see founder Mike Ashley receive £200m in shares.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Antofagasta (ANTO) 812.50p +3.97%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 755.00p +3.71%
Fresnillo (FRES) 926.00p +2.38%
Weir Group (WEIR) 2,684.00p +2.01%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,227.00p +2.00%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,350.00p +1.89%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 371.20p +1.87%
TUI Travel (TT.) 400.80p +1.83%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,511.50p +1.78%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 319.90p +1.78%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
BG Group (BG.) 1,267.50p -0.39%
SABMiller (SAB) 3,387.50p -0.31%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 889.00p -0.28%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 4,407.00p -0.26%
Capita (CPI) 1,165.00p -0.17%
Royal Mail (RMG) 478.40p -0.15%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,458.00p -0.14%
Wolseley (WOS) 3,263.00p -0.12%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 1,038.00p -0.10%
3i Group (III) 404.80p -0.07%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Man Group (EMG) 114.10p +6.34%
Drax Group (DRX) 692.00p +4.85%
Poundland Group (PLND) 341.40p +3.86%
Bodycote (BOY) 734.00p +3.67%
Telecom Plus (TEP) 1,311.00p +3.47%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 416.50p +3.15%
Tullett Prebon (TLPR) 264.90p +2.99%
Pace (PIC) 364.30p +2.85%
Ashmore Group (ASHM) 375.30p +2.74%
Bank of Georgia Holdings (BGEO) 2,424.00p +2.71%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Balfour Beatty (BBY) 214.30p -8.03%
Greene King (GNK) 817.00p -3.54%
Hays (HAS) 145.90p -3.44%
CSR (CSR) 595.00p -2.46%
Michael Page International (MPI) 431.90p -2.06%
AO World (AO.) 263.50p -1.50%
Wetherspoon (J.D.) (JDW) 798.00p -1.48%
EnQuest (ENQ) 140.00p -1.13%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 210.80p -0.99%
International Public Partnerships Ltd. (INPP) 131.50p -0.98%