Upwards revisions to UK economic growth in the second quarter gave stocks a bit of a boost on Friday morning, though gains were limited as investors scaled back risk appetite ahead of a long three-day weekend.
UK gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the second quarter is now said to have been 0.7%, ahead of the initial estimate for a 0.6% expansion. The annual growth rate was also changed to 1.5%, from 1.4% previously.
Vicky Redwood, Chief UK Economist at Capital Economics said this morning: "Looking ahead, the economy still faces some serious constraints (the fiscal squeeze, weak bank lending), so it may struggle to keep growing at quite such robust rates [...] Nonetheless, the outlook has become a bit brighter and we recently revised up our forecasts to 1.2% growth this year and 2% next."
GDP growth estimates for Germany meanwhile were unchanged at 0.7% for the second quarter, as expected, "but this again is another encouraging sign that the largest economy in the Eurozone is in recovery mode", according to Market Analyst Craig Erlam from Alpari.
Speaking on the sides of the Jackson Hole symposium which kicks off today, European Central Bank Governing Council Member Ewald Nowotny said the recent "stream of good news" from the euro-area economy has removed any need to cut interest rates to a fresh record low, according to a report from Bloomberg TV.
Heading into the afternoon session, the focus will be on the US new homes sales and Eurozone consumer confidence.
Stocks performed well yesterday after manufacturing data from China, the Eurozone and US all improved in August with the Chinese sector specifically unexpectedly returning to growth this month. Meanwhile in the States, jobless claims rose but remained near a six-year low and an index of leading economic indicators beat expectations.
Croda gains after broker upgrade
Speciality chemicals firm Croda International was a high riser this morning after Deutsche Bank upgraded the stock to 'buy' and hiked its target price from 2,400p to 2,850p.
Mining stocks such as Antofagasta, Fresnillo, Vedanta and Rio Tinto were in demand as metals prices edged higher.
BHP Billiton however was lower on the news that it has handed Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie, who has been on the job for just three months, a £4.6m bonus.
Banking stocks were under pressure this morning after Moody's warned last night that it had placed ratings on the six-largest US banks on review for a possible downgrade. Barclays, HSBC and RBS were among the worst performers in London today.
Oil and gas group Afren was in the red this morning after first-half profits sunk 16% year-on-year due to one-off costs. Nevertheless, revenues rose 2% despite a dip in the oil price
as production grew strongly.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Croda International (CRDA) 2,671.00p +4.05%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 927.00p +2.09%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 291.30p +1.78%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,236.00p +1.73%
Prudential (PRU) 1,140.00p +1.69%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 1,214.00p +1.68%
WPP (WPP) 1,211.00p +1.68%
SABMiller (SAB) 3,090.00p +1.56%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,612.00p +1.45%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,086.50p +1.41%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Shire Plc (SHP) 2,408.00p -1.11%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,637.00p -1.09%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 4,471.00p -1.06%
Standard Life (SL.) 342.20p -0.96%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 339.80p -0.93%
Amec (AMEC) 1,073.00p -0.83%
Weir Group (WEIR) 2,197.00p -0.81%
Capita (CPI) 984.00p -0.71%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,269.00p -0.63%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,476.50p -0.61%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Evraz (EVR) 125.20p +4.59%
Dechra Pharmaceuticals (DPH) 713.00p +4.09%
Dunelm Group (DNLM) 962.00p +3.11%
Keller Group (KLR) 1,118.00p +3.04%
IG Group Holdings (IGG) 568.50p +2.43%
Anite (AIE) 112.20p +2.37%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 189.40p +2.27%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 275.50p +2.26%
Halfords Group (HFD) 385.30p +2.20%
BH Global Ltd. USD Shares (BHGU) 11.85 +2.16%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Afren (AFR) 138.20p -5.28%
ITE Group (ITE) 285.80p -3.61%
Premier Oil (PMO) 340.00p -1.88%
Carpetright (CPR) 658.00p -1.86%
NMC Health (NMC) 344.40p -1.60%
Tullett Prebon (TLPR) 337.00p -1.40%
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (MLC) 550.50p -1.34%
DCC (DCC) 2,583.00p -1.26%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 304.90p -1.23%
Countrywide (CWD) 577.00p -1.11%