- FTSE 100 at lowest since December 18th
- Fed continues to taper, cuts bond purchases by 10bn dollars
- Chinese PMI confirms manufacturing contraction
- Updates from blue chips come in mixed
techMARK 2,760.98 -0.25%
FTSE 100 6,524.90 -0.30%
FTSE 250 15,650.01 -0.24%
The Federal Reserve's decision to scale back its stimulus programme further and some disappointing economic figures from China ensured a poor start on UK markets on Thursday morning, with stocks falling to their lowest levels in over six weeks.
Ongoing concerns over developing nations were continuing to weigh on sentiment today as investors scaled back risk appetite amid a data-heavy session for global financial markets.
The FTSE 100 was trading down 0.3% at 6,525 in early trading; it has not closed below this level since December 18th 2013.
The US central bank last night tapered quantitative easing (QE) for the second month in a row, cutting monthly asset purchases by a further $10bn to $65bn despite some suggestions that the recent volatility in emerging markets could prompt it to hold off.
This comes after policymakers in Turkey, India and South Africa all moved to tighten policy in recent days, though this failed to stop the downwards pressure on their respective currencies.
"European stocks have extended declines this morning, with very little to cheer about on any front. Any hopes of the Fed showing enough sympathy to emerging markets to ease tapering plans was extinguished last night, going ahead with a $10bn cut to stimulus and ramping up the pressure on emerging currencies, the focus of the week thus far," said Toby Morris, Senior Sales Trader at CMC Markets.
In other news, the final reading of the Chinese manufacturing purchasing managers' index confirmed that the sector contracted in January, with the index actually being revised lower to 49.5 from a preliminary reading of 49.6 and below the 50.5 recorded in December.
Closer to home, there were plenty of macro data for investors to digest this morning, including figures which showed a fall in German unemployment to a one-year low and a less-than-expected increase in UK mortgage approvals.
In the States, meanwhile, investors will be waiting for personal consumption and spending figures, as well as growth forecasts for the fourth quarter, jobless claims and pending home sales.
BSkyB and Shell rise, Diageo and Johnson Matthey fall
Satellite broadcaster BSkyB gained strongly after an 8% rise in revenue to £3.75bn in the first half, helped by strong growth in paid-for subscription products.
Investors at oil major Royal Dutch Shell welcomed the company's announcement that it will undergo a major restructuring to boost capital and cut costs after it reported a sharp fall in fourth-quarter earnings.
Heading the other way was spirits manufacturer Diageo, which took a hit from weakness in emerging markets as it revealed that global sales growth was limited to just 1.8% in the first half, below analysts' forecasts.
Lager giant SABMiller was also unwanted this morning, along with bottling firm Coca-Cola HBC.
Johnson Matthey fell after the news that its long-running boss Neil Carson would be stepping down this summer. The group, however,gave an upbeat outlook for the second half of its financial year, saying that its performance will be ahead of previous expectations.
Financial stocks were mixed with Prudential and Standard Chartered in the red and HSBC and Lloyds making gains. There was an abrupt and unexplained spike in the share price of HSBC before midday, which led to a trading halt being imposed on the stock. Market commentary was attributing the move to a so-called "fat finger".
Sainsbury was continuing to trade lower after yesterday's announcement that its Chief Executive Justin King would be stepping down after 10 years.
Shares of services outsourcing company Serco plunged after the company said that 2013 revenues have been hit by adverse currency movements as it announced a profit warning for 2014.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 2,188.00p +2.94%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 2,308.00p +2.92%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 868.50p +2.84%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 414.40p +2.78%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,629.00p +1.62%
Pearson (PSON) 1,115.00p +1.00%
BP (BP.) 480.15p +0.68%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,163.00p +0.52%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 82.49p +0.50%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,427.50p +0.49%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Diageo (DGE) 1,788.00p -6.39%
Prudential (PRU) 1,212.00p -2.57%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,417.00p -2.41%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,259.50p -2.17%
Capita (CPI) 989.50p -2.13%
Old Mutual (OML) 172.60p -1.99%
G4S (GFS) 242.10p -1.94%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,580.00p -1.92%
SABMiller (SAB) 2,750.00p -1.84%
Smiths Group (SMIN) 1,420.00p -1.73%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Renishaw (RSW) 1,909.00p +6.11%
Rank Group (RNK) 134.60p +5.16%
Homeserve (HSV) 325.00p +4.43%
RPC Group (RPC) 599.00p +3.81%
Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) 454.00p +3.53%
Cranswick (CWK) 1,281.00p +3.06%
FirstGroup (FGP) 133.60p +2.93%
PayPoint (PAY) 1,114.00p +2.77%
Carphone Warehouse Group (CPW) 295.00p +2.72%
Betfair Group (BET) 1,042.00p +2.56%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Serco Group (SRP) 453.50p -10.99%
Perform Group (PER) 234.00p -4.37%
Home Retail Group (HOME) 175.00p -3.74%
Bank of Georgia Holdings (BGEO) 2,099.00p -3.58%
COLT Group SA (COLT) 123.00p -3.23%
Investec (INVP) 375.10p -2.92%
TalkTalk Telecom Group (TALK) 312.20p -2.65%
Inchcape (INCH) 585.00p -2.09%
Aveva Group (AVV) 2,149.00p -1.96%
Halfords Group (HFD) 454.60p -1.88%