- CPI inflation falls to BoE target
- US earnings season in focus
- UBS sees merger opportunities at BSkyB
- Ashmore reports fall in AuM
techMARK 2,800.75 -0.09%
FTSE 100 6,740.89 -0.24%
FTSE 250 16,152.84 -0.63%
Nervousness ahead of the US earnings season and a disappointing update from fund manager Ashmore were weighing on sentiment on Tuesday morning, as markets pulled back after hitting a 10-week high.
However, broker upgrades for BSkyB and Hargreaves Lansdown and a bullish update from AstraZeneca helped to ease the slide by noon.
The FTSE 100 was trading around 0.24% lower at 6,741 by midday, after hitting its highest close since November 4th on Monday.
However, the index had largely pared losses after hitting an intraday low of 6,694.08 early on after consumer price index (CPI) figures showed that the annual rate of UK inflation had nudged down to the Bank of England's 2% target in December, from 2.1% the previous month.
"Today's numbers do not have seismic implications for monetary policy," Analyst Philip Shaw from Investec said. "Even so today's numbers are a positive psychological development and at the margin should make it easier for the Monetary Policy Committee to make some qualitative adjustments to its interest rate guidance next month."
US stock futures were pointing to small gains before the opening bell on Wall Street as markets recover after a broad sell-off the day before. Bellwethers JPMorgan Chase & Co and Wells Fargo & Co are both in focus today ahead of their earnings releases later on, with a number of other banking heavyweights due to report in the coming days.
Meanwhile, hopes over the continuity of the Federal Reserve's stimulus programme were quashed last night by Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart, who said that he supports "similar tapering steps" as the one taken in December in spite of Friday's woeful jobs report.
Investors are now concerned that December's mere 74,000 increase in non-farm payrolls will not have deterred policymakers from reducing asset purchases further at the next Fed policy meeting later this month.
BSkyB, Hargreaves rise after upgrades
UBS upgraded BSkyB to 'buy' this morning, giving the stock a decent lift as it said that competitive concerns have been priced in and growth opportunities are now being overlooked at the broadband and pay-TV group. It also sees M&A upside in the stock, speculating about a possible merger by Fox to create 'Sky Europe' and even a mobile merger with either Vodafone UK or O2 UK.
Meanwhile, Hargreaves Lansdown was a high riser today being lifted to 'overweight' by Morgan Stanley.
Biopharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca was also providing a lift after saying that it expects to return to growth sooner than analysts currently predict.
Ashmore, the UK fund manager that invests in emerging markets, said assets under management fell 4.1% during the quarter ended December 31st amid continued market volatility, pressuring the stock as much as 12% lower in morning trade.
Financial peers Schroders, Aberdeen Asset Management, Old Mutual and Henderson were also falling sharply.
Estate agent chain Countrywide also registered losses despite forecasting annual results at the top end of forecasts. Housebuilding firm Barratt Developments was flat after failing to impress with a 19% rise in housing completions in the first half.
UK recruitment agency Michael Page was heading lower after reporting a 1.2% fall in fourth-quarter gross profit as companies remained reluctant to take on permanent staff.
FTSE 100 - Risers
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 871.00p +3.75%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,529.00p +2.96%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 3,723.00p +1.62%
Imperial Tobacco Group (IMT) 2,256.00p +1.44%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 355.90p +1.34%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,731.00p +0.99%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 84.80p +0.92%
ITV (ITV) 204.60p +0.89%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 986.50p +0.87%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,303.00p +0.85%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Intertek Group (ITRK) 3,005.00p -2.09%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 787.00p -2.05%
Schroders (SDR) 2,542.00p -1.85%
William Hill (WMH) 373.90p -1.79%
CRH (CRH) 1,616.00p -1.76%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 452.00p -1.72%
Prudential (PRU) 1,347.00p -1.68%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 1,770.00p -1.56%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 247.40p -1.55%
Old Mutual (OML) 192.80p -1.38%
FTSE 250 - Risers
QinetiQ Group (QQ.) 234.90p +3.25%
CSR (CSR) 695.50p +3.04%
esure Group (ESUR) 268.00p +2.52%
Balfour Beatty (BBY) 295.50p +1.90%
Homeserve (HSV) 299.70p +1.83%
Partnership Assurance Group (PA.) 320.30p +1.81%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 187.40p +1.74%
Britvic (BVIC) 693.00p +1.32%
Devro (DVO) 314.00p +1.09%
Soco International (SIA) 410.90p +0.96%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Ashmore Group (ASHM) 361.00p -11.69%
Henderson Group (HGG) 225.70p -4.12%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 520.50p -3.79%
IP Group (IPO) 175.70p -3.46%
International Personal Finance (IPF) 496.60p -3.20%
Ted Baker (TED) 2,260.00p -2.88%
COLT Group SA (COLT) 124.80p -2.50%
Rathbone Brothers (RAT) 1,675.00p -2.50%
Vesuvius (VSVS) 468.30p -2.34%
Oxford Instruments (OXIG) 1,720.00p -2.27%