- Tech, internet stocks weigh on markets
- Nasdaq sees sharpest fall since late 2011
- JPMorgan, Wells Fargo in focus this afternoon
- Airlines sold off after Heathrow traffic stats
techMARK 2,668.68 -1.87%
FTSE 100 6,563.60 -1.18%
FTSE 250 15,888.60 -1.61%
UK stocks fell over one per cent on Friday morning as sentiment took a hit in the wake of the worst single-day slump on New York's Nasdaq Composite since late 2011.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped to its lowest level since early February on Thursday as investors continued to dump stocks that have performed well in recent months, raising concerns with steep valuations. This trend was evident in London early on, as technology and internet stocks were sold off.
Equities in the airline sector were also under the weather on the back of falling traffic at Heathrow, the UK's largest airport.
The FTSE 100 was trading 1.2% lower at 6,564 by midday; the index has not closed below this level since March 24th when it ended that session at 6,520.39.
There are few high-impact data releases scheduled for Friday's session, though the producer price index readings and University of Michigan confidence figures will be in focus for US markets later on.
The latest quarterly results from JP Morgan and Wells Fargo, due out this afternoon before the opening bell on Wall Street, will also be keenly awaited by investors.
"Given that today gives us the first real meat of earnings season, you would be forgiven for packing your bags and taking the weekend to digest the week's volatility," said Will Hedden, Premium Client Manager at IG.
Analysts over recent days have raised concerns that the first-quarter earnings season in the US will be poor, with investors waiting to see how much of an impact the weather had on company profits.
In that same vein, UBS said today that there is a "dark side" to the anticipated "boom" in capital expenditures in the US. "It impacts the cost structure of companies, hence margins, as well as cash flow," the bank said.
Markets were also keeping an eye out for rising tensions in Ukraine, after NATO said that Russian military deployed in more than 100 makeshift bases just across the border are in a state of high readiness. Briefing reporters in Belgium, NATO officers showed for the first time commercial satellite images of fast aircraft, tanks, armoured vehicles, artillery and temporary bases of troops it assessed to be airborne or special forces. A senior military officer described Russia's military movements as "destabilising" to the region.
Tech stocks provide a drag
Chip groups ARM Holdings and Imagination Technologies were among the worst performing stocks this morning, with sentiment dampened by the Nasdaq sell-off in the US on Thursday evening. Software firm Sage Group was also under the weather, along with online fashion retailers N Brown and ASOS, and internet grocer Ocado.
Global technology investment trust Polar Capital Technology Trust was also a heavy faller today, along with biotech-focused Worldwide Healthcare Trust and tech-focused Herald Investment Trust.
Airline rivals easyJet and IAG were flying lower after Heathrow's monthly traffic statistics revealed that 5.8m passengers passed through the London airport in March, down 2.8% on the year before.
The retail sector was broadly lower despite upbeat results out from sector stalwart John Lewis Partnership which reported 15.7% sales growth in the week ended April 5th. High Street names such as Sports Direct, Marks & Spencer and Debenhams were all trading in the red.
Numis Securities weighed on the share price of stationery and books retailer WH Smith after cutting its recommendation from 'add' to 'hold'.
Supermarket stocks held up well with Sainsbury and WM Morrison the two sole risers on the FTSE 100. Tesco was lower on reports that it is planning on launching a High Street takeaway chain to be focused on the London market.
Mobile telecoms heavyweight Vodafone fell after saying it has taken full ownership of its Indian arm Vodafone India in two deals costing a total of £1bn.
Engineering giant Weir was hit by a ratings downgrade by Berenberg to 'hold', while Numis lowered its ratings for Ferrexpo and Antofagasta to 'hold' and 'reduce', respectively.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 199.90p +1.32%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 310.10p +0.16%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,252.00p -5.44%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 957.00p -4.68%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 882.50p -4.44%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 396.80p -4.13%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 777.50p -4.01%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,696.00p -3.69%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,485.00p -3.13%
ITV (ITV) 184.40p -3.00%
Weir Group (WEIR) 2,492.00p -2.92%
Babcock International Group (BAB) 1,376.00p -2.89%
FTSE 250 - Risers
esure Group (ESUR) 248.00p +1.27%
ITE Group (ITE) 203.40p +1.19%
Phoenix Group Holdings (DI) (PHNX) 644.50p +1.18%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 261.00p +1.12%
Infinis Energy (INFI) 228.90p +0.84%
Croda International (CRDA) 2,568.00p +0.67%
Just Retirement Group (JRG) 151.50p +0.53%
Euromoney Institutional Investor (ERM) 1,204.00p +0.50%
Genus (GNS) 944.00p +0.43%
Drax Group (DRX) 738.50p +0.41%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Pace (PIC) 410.00p -5.88%
IP Group (IPO) 199.40p -5.27%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 371.10p -5.26%
Worldwide Healthcare Trust (WWH) 1,216.00p -4.40%
Carphone Warehouse Group (CPW) 314.80p -4.11%
COLT Group SA (COLT) 144.00p -4.00%
Northgate (NTG) 498.30p -3.99%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,497.00p -3.98%
Henderson Group (HGG) 246.10p -3.94%
Supergroup (SGP) 1,470.00p -3.86%