- Stocks start lower, ITV falls despite strong results
- German consumer confidence surprises on the upside
- Weir, miners lead the gains
techMARK 2,900.00 -0.11%
FTSE 100 6,811.55 -0.28%
FTSE 250 16,459.53 -0.41%
UK stocks started today's session in negative territory, weighed by ex-dividends, a surprise fall by ITV, as well as choppy sessions in both the US and Asia overnight.
The FTSE 100 fell 19 points to 6,811 early on.
US stock markets finished lower last night after data came in below expectations, while Asia equities did their best to claw back the previous day's losses, ultimately ending in a mixed fashion.
German consumer confidence comes in better-than-expected
German consumer confidence was released this morning, registering a surprise lift to its highest level since January 2007.
The GfK March survey showed German consumer confidence rose to 8.5 points from the prior revised 8.3, surprising the consensus that had expected no changes to February's initial reading of 8.2.
GfK said: "Income expectations were able to top, once again, the already very high level of the previous month. Consumers remain confident that the economy is recovering."
Turning back to today's session, an announcement is due out shortly on fourth quarter UK economic growth from the Office for National Statistics, which is expected to confirm a quarter-on-quarter rise of 0.7%.
The report follows the preliminary estimates for GDP, which also showed year-on-year growth of 2.8% in the fourth quarter.
This afternoon will see the release of new home sale figures in the US, in what will otherwise be a quiet session Stateside.
Ofgem tackles lack of competition between energy companies
The finances of the "big six" energy companies will be given further scrutiny following industry regulator Ofgem's new measures announced this morning. The firms have been told they must publish wholesale power prices two years in advance.
Ofgem Chief Executive, Andrew Wright, said: "Our rules for a simpler, clearer, fairer energy market are coming into force, meaning that it is getting easier for consumers to pick out the best deals. Now we are also breaking down barriers to competition for new entrant suppliers.
"These reforms give independent suppliers, generators and new entrants to the market, both the visibility of prices and opportunities to trade that they need to compete with the largest energy suppliers."
Weir rises on strong 2014 outlook
Engineering solutions provider Weir rose strongly after posting an in-line set of full-year results on Wednesday, as a positive performance by the Minerals division helped to offset a "challenging" year for the group. The group also said that in 2014 it anticipates a return to underlying growth, despite mixed end market conditions.
Mining stocks were erasing some of yesterday's heavy losses, with Fresnillo and Randgold both moving higher early on. The former was performing particularly well after it announced that a debilitating suspension on the use of explosives at its key Herradura mining operation has been lifted.
Likewise, GKN moved back into positive territory after falling sharply on Tuesday after the group reported a flat full-year performance in Europe, while both Japanese and Indian production fell 4%
Leading the downside was easyJet, which fell after the stock went ex-dividend.
ITV was lower despite a strong set of full-year results, which saw it boost its dividend and announce an additional special pay-out to shareholders. Broker Jefferies was upbeat on the stock, saying "ITV remains our key European Media pick for 2014", rating it a 'buy' with a price taget of 231p.
In unlisted company news, the Co-op Group is set to report much bigger than anticipated losses for 2013 next month. BBC Business Editor, Robert Peston, revealed the results would by "by far the worst in its history", saying he understood the group was planning to sell its farming operation and potentially its pharmacies too.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Weir Group (WEIR) 2,475.00p +5.23%
GKN (GKN) 414.40p +0.90%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 388.00p +0.67%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 981.00p +0.56%
Babcock International Group (BAB) 1,463.00p +0.55%
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) 1,683.00p +0.51%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,056.00p +0.48%
Experian (EXPN) 1,116.00p +0.36%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 871.00p +0.35%
BG Group (BG.) 1,101.00p +0.32%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
easyJet (EZJ) 1,708.00p -3.56%
ITV (ITV) 200.00p -2.96%
Tesco (TSCO) 326.10p -2.71%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,463.00p -1.88%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 775.00p -1.71%
Diageo (DGE) 1,868.00p -1.48%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,935.00p -1.43%
CRH (CRH) 1,765.00p -1.29%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,445.00p -1.23%
Prudential (PRU) 1,353.00p -1.17%
FTSE 250 - Risers
CSR (CSR) 720.50p +6.19%
International Personal Finance (IPF) 524.50p +4.07%
Greencore Group (GNC) 253.80p +2.75%
Hays (HAS) 141.00p +2.17%
Diploma (DPLM) 757.00p +1.27%
Stagecoach Group (SGC) 386.30p +1.18%
BH Global Ltd. GBP
Shares (BHGG) 1,202.00p +1.18%
Genesis Emerging Markets Fund Ltd Ptg NPV (GSS) 496.80p +1.16%
Alliance Trust (ATST) 449.80p +1.08%
PayPoint (PAY) 1,180.00p +0.94%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Beazley (BEZ) 258.20p -7.26%
Essar Energy (ESSR) 67.70p -5.64%
Playtech (PTEC) 800.00p -4.36%
Kentz Corporation Ltd. (KENZ) 746.00p -3.93%
St. Modwen Properties (SMP) 392.50p -3.92%
Regus (RGU) 226.40p -3.45%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 124.00p -3.05%
Hellermanntyton Group (HTY) 315.10p -2.87%
Brewin Dolphin Holdings (BRW) 324.30p -2.79%
Xaar (XAR) 1,076.00p -2.62%
FTSE TechMARK - Risers
Dialight (DIA) 795.00p +1.40%
Consort Medical (CSRT) 1,052.00p +0.38%
E2V Technologies (E2V) 166.06p +0.34%
Gov Bond 7-10YR UCITS ETF (IEGM) € 183.84 +0.04%
FTSE TechMARK - Fallers
NCC Group (NCC) 212.97p -1.63%
Wolfson Microelectronics (WLF) 123.25p -1.40%
Sepura (SEPU) 142.00p -1.39%
Oxford Biomedica (OXB) 3.10p -0.80%
Vectura Group (VEC) 160.50p -0.62%
Anite (AIE) 86.00p -0.58%
SDL (SDL) 377.50p -0.53%
Ricardo (RCDO) 719.00p -0.14%