- Markets await non-farm payrolls
- 150k gain expected by analysts, jobless rate to hold steady
- Broker comments move stocks amid lack of earnings
- Heavyweight miners fall
techMARK 2,880.97 -0.22%
FTSE 100 6,780.62 -0.12%
FTSE 250 16,648.67 -0.14%
UK markets had trimmed earlier losses by Friday lunchtime ahead of key economic data from the States this afternoon, with investors nervous ahead of the official US employment report for February.
Broker commentary was moving a number of blue chip stocks this morning amid a lack of corporate earnings releases, though losses in the heavyweight mining sector assured that markets were still trading in the red by midday.
The FTSE 100 was trading 0.1% lower at 6,781, bouncing off a low of 6,747.46 reached early on.
"The FTSE has started the day slightly lower, with traders once again deciding to err on the side of caution as the weather-affected US non-farm payrolls being released this afternoon have the potential to affect the market," said Market Analyst Alastair McCaig from IG.
Analysts expect the Labor Department's non-farm payrolls data to show that US employers added 150,000 jobs last month, up from the measly 113,000 gain in January, though the jobless rate is forecast to hold at 6.6%.
Despite the pick-up in growth month-on-month, the 150,000 increase is still markedly less than what analysts and policymakers are hoping for in light of the Federal Reserve's tapering of monetary stimulus.
On a positive note, data yesterday showed that US jobless claims dropped by 26,000 to a three-month low of 323,000. The figure came in lower than analysts' forecasts, pushing the benchmark S&P 500
to another record high last night. Stock futures in the US were pointing to a broadly flat start when Wall Street opens later on.
HSBC, Vodafone, Aggreko fall after broker comments
Banking giant HSBC was lower this morning after Goldman Sachs removed the stock from its 'conviction buy' list and cut its price target from 900p to 740p. Goldman said that uncertainties remain over regulatory capital requirements at the bank, which is "likely to push additional capital returns further into the future".
Telecoms firm Vodafone was also down after Bank of America Merrill Lynch reportedly removed the stock from its 'Europe 1' list. Sentiment in the sector was also dampened after Telecom Italia scrapped its dividend as it reported a full-year net loss of €674m.
Temporary power and temperature control firm Aggreko was pulling back slightly after strong gains the day before as UBS lowered its price target for the stock on the back of currency movements following its 2013 results.
In contrast, insurance firm Aviva was continuing to rise after an 8% surge yesterday as investors continued to celebrate a better-than-expected set of annual figures. Analysts at Barclays and JPMorgan lifted their price targets for the stock today.
Postal and delivery firm Royal Mail after JPMorgan Cazenove lifted its target price from 700p to 765p, keeping an 'overweight' rating, on the back of reduced pension liabilities.
Burberry, meanwhile, was a heavy faller as it looks set to record its biggest three-day drop in over a month.
Mining groups Fresnillo, Antofagasta, Anglo American and Randgold were registering losses today, tracking metals prices lower.
FTSE 100 - Risers
G4S (GFS) 243.20p +3.27%
Aviva (AV.) 520.00p +3.17%
Pearson (PSON) 1,050.00p +1.65%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 237.30p +1.58%
ITV (ITV) 201.50p +1.46%
BT Group (BT.A) 409.70p +1.44%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,273.50p +1.15%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 791.00p +1.02%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,392.00p +1.02%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,382.00p +0.88%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Anglo American (AAL) 1,533.50p -2.01%
Fresnillo (FRES) 929.50p -1.95%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 898.50p -1.80%
Experian (EXPN) 1,052.00p -1.59%
Glencore Xstrata (GLEN) 335.05p -1.44%
William Hill (WMH) 380.50p -1.40%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 489.90p -1.39%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,996.00p -1.36%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,506.00p -1.31%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,268.50p -1.27%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Shaftesbury (SHB) 657.50p +4.53%
Fenner (FENR) 451.40p +3.53%
Keller Group (KLR) 1,163.00p +3.29%
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 16.09p +3.14%
esure Group (ESUR) 272.50p +2.68%
RPS Group (RPS) 355.50p +2.66%
Greencore Group (GNC) 299.90p +2.35%
Inchcape (INCH) 630.00p +1.86%
Betfair Group (BET) 1,164.00p +1.84%
Countrywide (CWD) 678.50p +1.80%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Essar Energy (ESSR) 71.05p -5.27%
ITE Group (ITE) 236.50p -3.86%
Fidessa Group (FDSA) 2,454.00p -3.42%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 311.00p -2.81%
Perform Group (PER) 274.80p -2.62%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 142.60p -2.53%
Polymetal International (POLY) 578.00p -2.20%
AL Noor Hospitals Group (ANH) 861.50p -2.10%
Carillion (CLLN) 375.30p -1.98%
Brewin Dolphin Holdings (BRW) 347.70p -1.95%