- Tullow lifted by Statoil speculation
- UK data misses forecasts
- Focus on Fed ahead of non-farm payrolls
techMARK 2,794.53 +0.72%
FTSE 100 6,750.46 +0.88%
FTSE 250 16,088.05 +0.87%
UK investors were in a confident mood on Friday morning with markets gaining strongly ahead of the all-important December jobs report from the States due out later on.
Alastair McCaig, Market Analyst at IG, said that markets were experiencing a "flurry of optimistic activity ahead of the weekend".
Tullow Oil was making headlines this morning on speculation that it could be a takeover target, while upbeat comments from analysts helped a number of other heavyweight stocks higher.
The FTSE 100 was trading up by 0.9% and was at around 6,750 by midday, as investors shrugged off the news that UK construction output and industrial production missed forecasts in November.
According to the Office for National Statistics, construction output growth eased to 2.2% year-on-year from 5.1% the month before, missing the forecast for a pick-up to 7.5%. Meanwhile, industrial production rose by 2.8%, up from 2.6% previously but below the 3% increase expected.
Eyes on Fed ahead of jobs report
Figures from ADP released Wednesday showed that the American economy added significantly more jobs than expected in December, suggesting that there could be some upside risk to the official jobs figures due to be released this afternoon.
The consensus of analysts expect the Bureau of Labor Statistics data to reveal a 195,000 increase in non-farm payrolls in December, down slightly from the 203,000 gain seen in the month before. The unemployment rate is estimated to remain at 7%.
The Federal Reserve kicked off its staged withdrawal of stimulus last month in the face of an improving labour market, tapering its monthly asset purchase programme from $85bn to $75bn.
Michael Hewson, Chief Market Analyst at CMC Markets, said that "good" payrolls number today will "shift the markets attention to the Fed meeting at the end of this month and the potential for a further $10bn of tapering on top of this month's $10bn".
Tullow gains on M&A rumours
Bid speculation surrounding Tullow gave the oil stock a lift this morning after rumours did the rounds yesterday that Norwegian group Statoil is considering an offer for the firm. Tullow had a strong day yesterday after an upgrade from HSBC to 'buy'.
BP was more or less flat after Exane BNP Paribas downgraded the oil major to 'neutral', while Shell jumped after the bank lifted its rating for the oil and gas giant to 'outperform'.
House builder Persimmon was a high riser after Goldman Sachs kept a 'buy' rating, with analysts saying they were "increasing our estimates and price target for Persimmon following its strong fiscal year trading update [on Wednesday]".
Mining giant Glencore Xstrata was lifted by comments from Barclays. Despite the bank keeping its negative stance on the wider sector after predicting another difficult year in 2014, it upgraded its rating for Glencore Xstrata to 'overweight', saying that it was among its top picks in the industry.
Marks & Spencer, which rose strongly yesterday after its quarterly sales update, was extending gains, helped by upbeat comments from Citigroup this morning which said it forecasts double-digit earnings growth next year for the retailer.
Telecoms group Vodafone was advancing after a sharp fall yesterday afternoon, on reports that US counterpart AT&T is looking to buy mobile network operator Orange. The speculation effectively implies that AT&T would drop out of its rumoured pursuit of Vodafone.
Supermarket giants Tesco and Morrison were still in focus after their disappointing updates. Morrison bounced back slightly today, while Tesco was still under the weather; both stocks were downgraded by Beaufort Securities this morning to 'sell'.
Chip designer ARM Holdings, which got hit by a Deutsche Bank downgrade yesterday, was still under selling pressure in morning trades after analysts at Goldman Sachs decided to take the company off their 'conviction buy' list.
Digital media group Perform surged as investors welcomed the resignation of Chief Financial Officer David Surtees following a profit warning by the company last month.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Tullow Oil (TLW) 885.00p +4.73%
Carnival (CCL) 2,542.00p +2.87%
Glencore Xstrata (GLEN) 318.00p +2.70%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 810.50p +2.53%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,456.00p +2.46%
WPP (WPP) 1,364.00p +2.17%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 757.50p +2.09%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 681.90p +2.07%
William Hill (WMH) 378.80p +2.07%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,300.00p +2.04%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Tesco (TSCO) 320.00p -1.34%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 84.67p -0.69%
Whitbread (WTB) 3,859.00p -0.64%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 992.00p -0.55%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 426.30p -0.54%
Fresnillo (FRES) 671.50p -0.44%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 1,243.00p -0.40%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,102.50p -0.29%
CRH (CRH) 1,621.00p -0.25%
BT Group (BT.A) 383.30p -0.18%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Perform Group (PER) 249.90p +6.02%
Homeserve (HSV) 272.90p +5.37%
Debenhams (DEB) 80.05p +5.05%
Spirent Communications (SPT) 89.85p +4.60%
Enterprise Inns (ETI) 164.90p +4.30%
Cobham (COB) 291.20p +4.00%
Brown (N.) Group (BWNG) 542.50p +3.33%
Restaurant Group (RTN) 648.00p +3.02%
Thomas Cook Group (TCG) 182.00p +3.00%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 166.50p +2.84%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Oxford Instruments (OXIG) 1,695.00p -3.03%
Spectris (SXS) 2,397.00p -2.56%
Laird (LRD) 310.70p -2.02%
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (MLC) 588.00p -2.00%
Essar Energy (ESSR) 69.20p -1.63%
Big Yellow Group (BYG) 481.80p -1.53%
COLT Group SA (COLT) 124.90p -1.42%
Evraz (EVR) 102.00p -1.35%
Barr (A.G.) (BAG) 565.50p -1.22%
Bank of Georgia Holdings (BGEO) 2,500.00p -1.03%