- Aggreko, Standard Life, Old Mutual rise after results
- Meggitt, IHG and Fresnillo disappoint
- UK services PMI, Eurozone retail sales beat forecasts
- Chinese services PMI drops to key 50-point mark
techMARK 2,734.64 -0.25%
FTSE 100 6,702.33 +0.37%
FTSE 250 15,370.24 +0.05%
UK stocks advanced on Tuesday despite a mixed reaction to a wave of corporate earnings, as investors picked up bargains after a 2% slump for the FTSE 100 over the last four sessions.
Aggreko, Standard Life and Old Mutual were making ground in morning trade, while Meggitt, International Hotels Group (IHG) and Fresnillo disappointed with their results.
Nevertheless, the FTSE 100 was up 0.4% at 6,702 by midday after finishing Monday's session at 6,677.52 - its lowest close since 10 July.
An improvement in economic data was helping investor sentiment on Tuesday. Markit's UK services sector purchasing managers' index (PMI) rose to an eight-month high of 59.1 in July, higher than consensus estimates of 58 and up from the 57.7 reading for June.
"The Monetary Policy Committee's (MPC) expectation has been that economic growth would ease in the second half of 2014. So signs of renewed strength in the dominant services sector could further increase the chances of one or two Committee members voting for a rate hike in tomorrow's MPC meeting," said Martin Beck, a senior economic advisor to the EY ITEM Club.
Data also showed that Eurozone retail sales rose at an annual rate of 2.4% in June, up from 0.6% in May and well ahead of the 1.4% growth expected by the market.
On a negative note, the HSBC/Markit PMI for China's services sector showed that growth ground to a halt in July. The China services PMI dropped sharply from 53.1 to just 50 in July; this was the lowest reading since records began in November 2005 and meant that the non-manufacturing sector neither grew nor contracted last month.
Temporary power and temperature control group Aggreko gained as it kept its full-year guidance after good underlying growth in the first half, though reported results were weaker due to the "significant adverse impact" from currency movements. Trading profit fell 10% but improved by 6% on an underlying basis.
Strong net inflows helped Standard Life grow assets under administration 4% to £254.1bn in the first half of the year, with revenues, profits and cash all increasing, pushing the stock higher early on.
Financial services group Old Mutual was also performing well after its majority-owned South African subsidiary Nedbank increased first-half earnings by 17.5% to 4.6bn rand (£256m).
Broker upgrades were also helping a number of stocks this morning: JPMorgan Cazenove lifted its rating for Intertek from 'neutral' to 'overweight' saying that the product testing group has reached an inflexion point for organic growth, while engineer Weir was boosted by an RBC Capital Markets upgrade from 'outperform' to 'top pick'.
Shares in Meggitt dropped sharply after it said profits dropped in the first half, reflecting the impact of currency headwinds and disposals on revenue. Underlying pre-tax profit sank 21% to £143.8m, well below analysts' forecasts.
IHG was also firmly lower after missing forecasts in the first half. The hotels group gave an upbeat outlook but said underlying operating profits rose 6% to $301m, missing the $305m consensus estimate.
Mexico-focused precious metals miner Fresnillo was also under pressure after profits dropped in the first half of 2014 as a result of "significantly lower" commodity prices and a sharp decline in gold production.
Royal Mail Group's stock was dented by comments from Credit Suisse, which said it sees "no near-term positive catalysts" for the postal company. The bank slashed its target price for the shares
from 460p to 360p as it kept an 'underperform' recommendation, saying it expects Royal Mail to miss its margin targets.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Intertek Group (ITRK) 2,784.00p +2.88%
Weir Group (WEIR) 2,595.00p +2.77%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,756.00p +2.03%
Old Mutual (OML) 197.40p +1.60%
Unilever (ULVR) 2,582.00p +1.57%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,010.00p +1.46%
SABMiller (SAB) 3,236.00p +1.46%
Standard Life (SL.) 369.50p +1.40%
Pearson (PSON) 1,129.00p +1.35%
Tesco (TSCO) 254.05p +1.34%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Meggitt (MGGT) 466.70p -7.31%
Royal Mail (RMG) 404.40p -3.87%
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 2,283.00p -3.47%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 316.60p -3.18%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 334.40p -3.04%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,211.00p -2.81%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,240.00p -2.75%
IMI (IMI) 1,395.00p -1.55%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,679.00p -1.41%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 833.00p -1.19%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Perform Group (PER) 233.70p +5.03%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 190.50p +4.56%
Pets at Home Group (PETS) 187.40p +3.54%
RPS Group (RPS) 252.80p +2.97%
Serco Group (SRP) 354.40p +2.43%
Tullett Prebon (TLPR) 259.40p +2.41%
Morgan Advanced Materials (MGAM) 322.40p +2.35%
Dechra Pharmaceuticals (DPH) 699.00p +2.34%
Big Yellow Group (BYG) 504.50p +2.13%
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 831.50p +2.02%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Afren (AFR) 98.55p -7.90%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 106.00p -3.55%
Man Group (EMG) 117.60p -2.81%
ITE Group (ITE) 191.80p -2.54%
BBA Aviation (BBA) 305.20p -2.40%
Berkeley Group Holdings (The) (BKG) 2,368.00p -2.39%
Pace (PIC) 307.40p -2.23%
Just Eat (JE.) 210.30p -2.19%
Redrow (RDW) 234.50p -2.09%
Crest Nicholson Holdings (CRST) 340.00p -1.90%