- Corporate earnings receive mixed market reaction
- Barclays, Travis Perkins and Astra rise
- Antofagasta, ITV and Compass fall
- US data, Fed decision in focus later on
techMARK 2,783.73 +0.05%
FTSE 100 6,803.99 -0.06%
FTSE 250 15,675.20 -0.08%
The FTSE 100 was trading broadly flat on Wednesday, teetering at the 6,800 level, as investors gave a mixed reaction to a flurry of corporate earnings and awaited key economic data from the States.
Meanwhile, traders were still watching developments in the Ukraine crisis after US and EU leaders announced a fresh round of sanctions on Russia yesterday. Relentless fighting in Gaza and a potential debt default in Argentina were also likely to be weighing on risk appetite.
London's benchmark index was 0.1% lower at 6,804 by midday as strong gains from Barclays, Travis Perkins and AstraZeneca were offset by falls from Antofagasta, ITV and Compass.
After a relatively quiet start to the week on the macro calendar, things will pick up this afternoon with the focus on the closely-watched ADP employment report and second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) estimates in the States, as well as the Federal Reserve's policy decision scheduled for this evening.
The consensus forecast is for annualised US GDP growth to be 3% in the second quarter of 2014, a sharp rebound from the 2.9% contraction registered in the first quarter.
As for the Fed, there will not be a press conference but the central bank's statement is likely to have a "dovish twist", according to analysts at Danske Bank, "giving an acknowledgement that the labour market is improving faster than expected".
Barclays leads banks higher
Barclays was up 4% as it reported a less-than-expected 12% fall in total income adjusted for insurance claims for the first half to £13.32bn, driven by reductions at its investment and African banking units. The consensus estimate had been for a drop to £13.23bn. Domestic banking peers RBS and Lloyds were also on the rise.
Housebuilder Travis Perkins also impressed as it reported double-digit growth across the board in the first half, with like-for-like revenues up 10.2% and profits up 16%. The company said it expects "continued solid growth" for the rest of the year.
Astrazeneca was in demand after it struck a deal with drug developer Almirall for the rights to the Spanish group's respiratory franchise. The initial consideration is $875m.
Chile-focused mining group Antofagasta underwhelmed as it maintained its production guidance for 2014 after a sequential increase in output in the second quarter, while net cash costs were broadly flat.
Shares of broadcaster ITV were in negative territory with the stock retreating after its recent strong run. Nevertheless, the company managed to beat expectations with its first-half results this morning with pre-tax profits up 16%.
Catering and facilities management giant Compass served up a healthy third quarter of trading, improving margin across the group as revenue growth in North America remained strong while Europe and Japan improved.
On the FTSE 250, retailer Pets at Home jumped after new store openings and strength in the food, accessories and services categories drove first-quarter revenues 10.4% higher.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Barclays (BARC) 228.10p +4.11%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,700.00p +3.34%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 361.60p +2.15%
Capita (CPI) 1,238.00p +1.89%
Carnival (CCL) 2,157.00p +1.41%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 76.65p +1.35%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 5,280.00p +1.15%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 4,362.00p +0.91%
BAE Systems (BA.) 428.80p +0.78%
BT Group (BT.A) 389.40p +0.62%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Antofagasta (ANTO) 834.00p -2.46%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 317.00p -1.95%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 423.00p -1.79%
ITV (ITV) 201.90p -1.51%
Compass Group (CPG) 994.50p -1.34%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 2,069.00p -1.29%
GKN (GKN) 361.30p -1.28%
3i Group (III) 388.60p -1.22%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 172.40p -1.20%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 920.50p -1.18%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Pets at Home Group (PETS) 180.10p +5.94%
Moneysupermarket.com Group (MONY) 189.60p +4.18%
National Express Group (NEX) 265.10p +3.27%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 182.80p +2.47%
Diploma (DPLM) 640.00p +2.40%
Bwin.party Digital Entertainment (BPTY) 87.90p +2.15%
Phoenix Group Holdings (DI) (PHNX) 707.50p +2.02%
PayPoint (PAY) 1,073.00p +2.00%
Thomas Cook Group (TCG) 122.10p +2.00%
Riverstone Energy Limited (RSE) 921.50p +1.82%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Pace (PIC) 345.50p -4.53%
International Personal Finance (IPF) 565.50p -3.50%
Jupiter Fund Management (JUP) 401.70p -3.23%
Just Eat (JE.) 205.10p -2.33%
CSR (CSR) 538.00p -2.00%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 163.70p -1.98%
Big Yellow Group (BYG) 500.50p -1.86%
Infinis Energy (INFI) 235.80p -1.75%
Dixons Retail (DXNS) 51.00p -1.73%
Carphone Warehouse Group (CPW) 329.30p -1.70%