- BoE, ECB decisions in focus
- Russia bans food imports from US, EU
- Rio Tinto leads mining stocks higher, but Randgold drops
techMARK 2,709.84 -0.19%
FTSE 100 6,616.42 -0.30%
FTSE 250 15,237.15 -0.17%
UK stocks were closing in on a four-month low on Thursday morning as investors turned cautious ahead of policy decisions in the UK and Europe, amid ongoing geopolitical tensions between Russia and the West.
The FTSE 100 was down 0.3% at 6,616 in early trading after having closed Wednesday's session at 6,636.16 - its lowest finish since April 17th - as risk appetite was dampened by weak economic data and a build-up of Russian troops along the eastern border of Ukraine.
Nato has said that the significant increase of Russian troops near Ukraine over the last few days is of "great concern" amid fears that Moscow is readying to invade. Meanwhile, Russia has denied the allegations, saying that comments from Nato are misleading.
Meanwhile, in response to the latest round of Western sanctions the Kremlin has imposed a ban on imports of agricultural goods from the US and European Union for up to one year.
"After Russia threatened retaliatory sanctions, it has followed through on agricultural imports which may further impact a fragile Eurozone after yet more weak German data this morning in the form of industrial production (after factory orders slumped yesterday)," said Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets.
German industrial production rose by just 0.3% in June after a revised 1.7% fall the previous month, though the rebound was much worse than the 1.2% growth expected.
Votes on interest rates at the Bank of England (BoE) and European Central Bank (ECB) also injected further uncertainty into markets on Thursday morning, though both are predicted to be "somewhat of a non-event", according to research analyst Joshua Mahony from Alpari UK.
"However, it is the ECB meeting that has the potential to really move the market, with many looking to the subsequent Q&A session from Mario Draghi for potential clues to future actions," he said.
Rio leads miners higher
Mining stocks were performing well in morning trade with Rio Tinto leading the risers. The company hailed an "outstanding performance" in the first half as underlying earnings jumped 21% and cash flow generation increased 8%, with the miner topping its cash cost reduction target ahead of schedule. Fresnillo, Glencore and Antofagasta were also in demand.
Bucking the trend was Randgold Resources as shares
slipped after gold output in the second quarter fell 2% on the first three months of the year. Nevertheless, the company said it is still on track to hit its production guidance for 2014.
Aviva gained after delivering half-year improvements in its five key metrics, increasing cash flow, operating profits and new business, as well as cutting both costs and its combined operating ratio. However, insurance peer RSA declined after net written premiums fell 9% in the first half.
Bottling firm Coca-Cola HBC slumped after saying unfriendly consumer sentiment and foreign exchange
headwinds looked unlikely to improve during 2014 as it downgraded its volume expectations for the year as a whole.
Financial services group Old Mutual declined after saying that adjusted operating profits fell 5% in the first half as a result of a weaker South African rand.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Carnival (CCL) 2,182.00p +2.20%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,454.00p +1.87%
Glencore (GLEN) 364.70p +1.29%
Fresnillo (FRES) 997.50p +1.27%
Aviva (AV.) 493.70p +0.82%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 858.00p +0.70%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 857.50p +0.70%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 4,218.50p +0.68%
SSE (SSE) 1,465.00p +0.62%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,215.00p +0.58%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 1,324.00p -3.71%
Old Mutual (OML) 188.70p -2.68%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 435.60p -1.87%
Shire Plc (SHP) 4,595.00p -1.82%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 339.80p -1.82%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 71.29p -1.30%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,062.00p -1.30%
BAE Systems (BA.) 416.90p -1.28%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 408.30p -1.21%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,006.00p -1.18%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Elementis (ELM) 272.10p +2.91%
Cobham (COB) 295.00p +2.79%
Kennedy Wilson Europe Real Estate (KWE) 1,080.00p +2.66%
Savills (SVS) 588.00p +2.35%
Home Retail Group (HOME) 176.00p +2.33%
Afren (AFR) 103.20p +2.28%
Dixons Carphone (DC.) 351.00p +2.27%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 132.90p +2.15%
Perform Group (PER) 232.00p +1.98%
Enterprise Inns (ETI) 121.40p +1.76%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Stock Spirits Group (STCK) 296.70p -3.83%
Amec (AMEC) 1,056.00p -3.03%
Alent (ALNT) 329.80p -2.14%
Henderson Group (HGG) 236.50p -2.07%
esure Group (ESUR) 254.10p -1.82%
COLT Group SA (COLT) 133.70p -1.62%
PayPoint (PAY) 1,015.00p -1.55%
Greencore Group (GNC) 251.30p -1.45%
Paragon Group Of Companies (PAG) 325.80p -1.33%
IP Group (IPO) 179.70p -1.32%