- Markets cautious ahead of FOMC outcome
- Eurozone inflation picks up but misses consensus
- Heritage Oil jumps on takeover offer
- Shell and Tullow lead markets higher
techMARK 2,775.59 -0.56%
FTSE 100 6,776.83 +0.10%
FTSE 250 15,813.39 -0.52%
UK stocks were trading slightly higher on Wednesday but were rangebound in morning trade after markets hit an eight-week high the previous session.
A raft of economic data and corporate earnings were keep traders busy today, while nervousness ahead of this evening's policy decision by the US Federal Reserve prompted many to scale back risk.
The Federal Open Market Committee began its two-day policy meeting on Tuesday and is widely expected to continue tapering its asset purchase programme by $10bn each meeting. This will bring the monthly stock of bond buying down from $55bn to $45bn.
"It's very unlikely that they'd change this amount or announce anything different when there's no accompanying press conference. It would cause unnecessary panic in the markets, which the Fed has tried to avoid when possible," said analyst Craig Erlam at Alpari.
The FTSE 100 was trading 0.1% higher at 6,777 by midday after closing at 6,769.91 on Tuesday afternoon, its highest finish since March 6th.
In economic news this morning, Eurozone inflation rose less than expected in April, according to the flash estimate published on Wednesday morning by Eurostat. The annual rate of consumer price inflation rose to 0.7% this month after prices rose by 0.5% in March. However, this compared to the consensus estimate for a 0.8% rise.
US stock futures were pointing to a lower start on Wall Street later on ahead of upcoming mortgage applications data and the ADP employment report, as well as a reading of US economic growth for the first quarter.
Heritage Oil jumps after takeover offer
Heritage Oil shares
surged this morning after Energy Investments Global offer 320p a share to take over the company, some 25% above yesterday's closing price. The offer values the company at £924m. Heritage also announced today that profits more than doubled in 2013.
Oil major Royal Dutch Shell rose strongly as first-quarter underlying earnings fell by 3% but beat expectations. Bottom-line earnings, however, were hit by £2.9bn of impairments in its Downstream division.
Sector peer Tullow also gained after saying it was on track to meet 2014 production guidance following a good performance since the start of the year.
Rolls-Royce was also higher after confirming media speculation that it is in talks with German engineer Siemens about the possible sale of its energy gas turbine and compressor division.
High street retail giant Next was swinging between gains and losses despite lifting its guidance for sales and profits this year after a strong performance in the first quarter. The company, which several brokers believe is fully valued, also announced that it would pay a special dividend and raise the limit of its share buyback.
Heading down was insurer Standard Life after underwhelming with a 1.5% rise in assets under administration in the first quarter.
GlaxoSmithKline was also in the red despite meeting expectations with a 2% rise in constant-currency core earnings per share to 21p. Revenues however declined by 2% to £5.6bn.
Admiral fell after going ex-dividend, along with others including ITV, Croda, Cobham, G4S, Ferrexpo, Tesco, Reed Elsevier, Travis Perkins and Weir.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 2,547.00p +4.77%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 2,372.50p +4.06%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 364.50p +3.76%
WPP (WPP) 1,264.00p +2.27%
Capita (CPI) 1,076.00p +1.99%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 881.00p +1.79%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 1,039.00p +1.76%
BG Group (BG.) 1,199.50p +1.61%
Severn Trent (SVT) 1,853.00p +1.59%
Shire Plc (SHP) 3,299.00p +1.10%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,390.00p -3.61%
Tesco (TSCO) 293.05p -3.38%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,161.00p -2.19%
Reed Elsevier (REL) 864.50p -2.10%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,415.00p -2.06%
William Hill (WMH) 340.10p -2.04%
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) 1,632.00p -2.01%
ITV (ITV) 180.00p -2.01%
Imperial Tobacco Group (IMT) 2,556.00p -1.88%
Weir Group (WEIR) 2,679.00p -1.83%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Heritage Oil (HOIL) 313.40p +22.61%
Aveva Group (AVV) 2,097.00p +7.26%
Ophir Energy (OPHR) 265.00p +5.49%
Afren (AFR) 159.00p +3.72%
Playtech (PTEC) 654.50p +2.51%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 183.70p +1.94%
Bellway (BWY) 1,424.00p +1.79%
Premier Oil (PMO) 343.00p +1.72%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 104.10p +1.46%
Soco International (SIA) 424.30p +1.39%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
CSR (CSR) 604.00p -5.85%
Supergroup (SGP) 1,317.00p -4.08%
UBM (UBM) 646.00p -3.94%
Hunting (HTG) 850.00p -3.57%
SIG (SHI) 192.00p -3.57%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 228.60p -3.54%
Elementis (ELM) 275.70p -3.47%
Petra Diamonds Ltd.(DI) (PDL) 162.20p -3.45%
IP Group (IPO) 174.10p -3.28%
Cranswick (CWK) 1,197.00p -3.23%