- FOMC minutes remove taper uncertainty
- BoE policy decision due out at noon
- Burberry, Barratt and AB Foods impress
- LSE drops as Qatar cuts stake
techMARK 2,785.94 +0.14%
FTSE 100 6,722.04 +0.06%
FTSE 250 15,553.32 +0.02%
UK stocks opened more or less flat on Thursday as investors kept a close eye on central banks, after three straight days of losses sent the Footsie to a two-and-a-half month low.
Slightly dovish comments from the Federal Reserve gave US indices a boost on Wednesday evening, but failed to inject a positive start in London this morning as markets awaited the latest policy decision from the Bank of England.
Well-received updates from Burberry, Barratt Developments and Associated British Foods were being partly offset by a drop in the share price of London Stock Exchange and weakness in the wider financial sector early on.
The FTSE 100 was trading just 0.1% higher at 6,722 in early trading. The index had settled at 6,718.04 by the end of Wednesday's session, its lowest close since April 28th.
Minutes of its latest Federal Open Market Committee meeting indicated that tapering will end in October with a final $15bn reduction in monthly asset purchases, clearing up the uncertainty over the timing of the planned withdrawal of stimulus.
However, policymakers stressed that interest rates will continue to remain near zero for a "considerable time" after the end of quantitative easing.
The focus of Thursday's session will be a policy decision by the Monetary Policy Committee due out at midday, though it is widely expected to maintain the Bank Rate at 0.5% and the asset purchase programme at £375bn.
Burberry, Barratt and AB Foods impress
High-end British fashion group Burberry warned that currency headwinds have increased but said it saw underlying growth in retail sales pick up in the first quarter. Growth accelerated to 17% at constant FX, up from 13% in the second half of last year.
Pre-tax profits at Barratt Developments will hit the top end of analyst expectations, the company boasted in a pre-close statement, leading to a decent rise in the shares
this morning. Profit before tax is predicted to have more than doubled to £390m in the 12 months to end-June.
Primark owner and food ingredients group Associated British Foods gained as it raised its profit guidance for the full year with strong growth at the value fashion retailer outweighing weakness elsewhere.
Heading the other was the London Stock Exchange Group on reports that Qatar Investment Authority has cut its 15% stake in the exchange operator by a third ahead of its planned $1.6bn rights issue to fund the acquisition of Frank Russell.
Other stocks in the financial sector, including Barclays, Hargreaves Lansdown and RBS were also in the red this morning.
Asset manager Ashmore, however, was bucking the trend after saying that assets under management had risen 7% over the fourth quarter to $75bn.
FTSE 100 - Risers
BG Group (BG.) 1,226.50p +1.74%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 370.50p +1.51%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,439.00p +1.41%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 175.60p +1.27%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,212.00p +1.04%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 3,030.00p +1.00%
Land Securities Group (LAND) 1,019.00p +0.99%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 884.00p +0.97%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,191.00p +0.93%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 5,140.00p +0.88%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) 1,913.00p -2.20%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,166.00p -1.19%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 336.30p -1.09%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,274.00p -1.01%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,508.00p -0.92%
CRH (CRH) 1,504.00p -0.79%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 907.50p -0.71%
Carnival (CCL) 2,140.00p -0.65%
Compass Group (CPG) 1,018.00p -0.59%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 466.60p -0.58%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Premier Oil (PMO) 337.20p +4.30%
Ashmore Group (ASHM) 369.50p +4.20%
FirstGroup (FGP) 128.60p +2.31%
Synthomer (SYNT) 222.30p +1.97%
Paragon Group Of Companies (PAG) 343.40p +1.84%
Informa (INF) 479.30p +1.83%
Hansteen Holdings (HSTN) 103.50p +1.77%
Grafton Group Units (GFTU) 582.00p +1.75%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 231.30p +1.63%
St. Modwen Properties (SMP) 385.00p +1.61%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Hays (HAS) 132.00p -4.14%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 197.90p -2.46%
Just Eat (JE.) 243.10p -2.37%
Evraz (EVR) 96.25p -2.28%
Merlin Entertainments (MERL) 351.10p -1.90%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 1,082.00p -1.90%
RPS Group (RPS) 276.60p -1.85%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 756.50p -1.63%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 390.40p -1.59%
Spirent Communications (SPT) 96.75p -1.38%