- FTSE 100 at lowest level since October 14th
- Central bank meetings, Autumn Statement in focus
- Investors cautious ahead of jobs report tomorrow
techMARK 2,644.71 +0.02%
FTSE 100 6,509.08 -0.01%
FTSE 250 15,152.45 +0.16%
UK stocks opened broadly flat on Thursday morning with the FTSE 100 trading at a seven-week low as investors adopt a cautious approach ahead of a busy day for financial markets.
London's benchmark index closed Wednesday's session at 6,509.97, its worst finish since October 14th, as uncertainty surrounding the impending tapering of stimulus in the States continued to erode risk appetite.
Upbeat readings of US private payrolls and new home sales sparked the fourth straight fall for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500
last night, given that an improved economy only backs the argument for the Federal Reserve to scale back the rate of its asset purchases sooner than initially expected.
The official jobs report - likely to be a key factor in the Fed's policy decision at its meeting on December 17-18th - is due out on Friday afternoon and is expected to reveal a 183,000 increase in non-farm payrolls for November, below the 204,000 gain in October.
According to analysts at Capital Economics, the creation of more than 200,000 jobs in November "might just be enough to persuade the Fed to begin its QE taper later this month".
As for today, investors will be keeping a close watch on the Bank of England and European Central Bank today as they unveil their latest decisions on monetary policy. Nevertheless, analysts expect both announcements to be non-events given that no change in policy is expected from either.
Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement is also due out during the session and is rumoured to include a sooner-than-expected increase in the state pension age, amongst other things.
"In terms of market reaction to the Autumn Statement, there probably won't be much of one, unless Osborne announces something significant that the markets are not expecting. We may see some volatility in sterling, for example, during the statement but I don't envisage any significant moves," said Market Analyst Craig Erlam from Alpari.
Miners gain early on
Mining stocks were mostly up this morning, rebounding after some sharp falls earlier in the week. Precious metal peers Fresnillo, Randgold, Centamin and Hochschild Mining were all making gains despite a dip in gold and silver prices early on.
Even Polymetal was in demand despite revealing that it would not pay a special dividend for 2013 due to its recent performance and negative commodity market conditions.
Oil groups Tullow and BP edged higher with West Texas crude trading near its highest level in five weeks as inventories fell in the US. Meanwhile, OPEC also said that oil demand next year wouldn't weaken enough to warrant cuts in production.
Soft drinks firm AG Barr rose after toasting a robust set of interim figures with revenues up 8%. The company said it is confident of meeting full-year expectations as it enters the key Christmas trading period .
Budget airline easyJet fell despite saying that it carried more passengers in November, up 3.4% on the same month a year ago. The Luton-based carrier said 4,255,978 people flew with it in November, up from the 4,116,576 people it carried in the same month a year ago.
Financial stocks were mixed this morning with Aberdeen Asset Management and Resolution in the red and Barclays and HSBC heading higher.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Fresnillo (FRES) 757.00p +2.37%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 862.00p +1.89%
Shire Plc (SHP) 2,691.00p +1.39%
Barclays (BARC) 266.05p +1.24%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,086.00p +1.14%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 885.00p +1.03%
Amec (AMEC) 1,107.00p +1.00%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 102.60p +0.79%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 653.50p +0.77%
BAE Systems (BA.) 423.90p +0.76%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 256.70p -1.53%
Tesco (TSCO) 335.10p -1.44%
Old Mutual (OML) 186.80p -1.37%
Babcock International Group (BAB) 1,271.00p -1.32%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 388.60p -1.12%
William Hill (WMH) 382.50p -1.11%
Capita (CPI) 972.00p -0.92%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,394.00p -0.92%
Next (NXT) 5,500.00p -0.81%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 207.10p -0.67%
FTSE 250 - Risers
AZ Electronic Materials SA (DI) (AZEM) 398.80p +51.69%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 41.24p +6.89%
Smith (DS) (SMDS) 312.30p +4.45%
Drax Group (DRX) 775.00p +4.31%
Ultra Electronics Holdings (ULE) 1,833.00p +3.74%
Alent (ALNT) 346.30p +3.37%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 126.00p +2.19%
Synthomer (SYNT) 227.00p +2.11%
Dunelm Group (DNLM) 885.50p +2.02%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 156.10p +1.56%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Phoenix Group Holdings (DI) (PHNX) 678.00p -3.69%
Rightmove (RMV) 2,445.00p -2.67%
Henderson Group (HGG) 200.70p -2.48%
IP Group (IPO) 173.30p -2.09%
Computacenter (CCC) 650.00p -1.44%
Redrow (RDW) 269.80p -1.28%
NMC Health (NMC) 400.00p -1.23%
Carpetright (CPR) 530.50p -1.21%
BH Macro Ltd. USD Shares (BHMU) 19.81 -1.20%
Diploma (DPLM) 684.00p -1.16%