- Chinese concerns hammer copper prices
- Ex-div stocks weigh on markets
- Poundland, Pets at Home in focus
- Prudential gains, G4S slumps
techMARK 2,837.07 -0.51%
FTSE 100 6,637.18 -0.72%
FTSE 250 16,390.10 -0.55%
UK stocks opened with heavy losses on Wednesday as ongoing concerns surrounding China hammered copper prices.
Mining and banking stocks were among the worst performers in London, pushing the FTSE 100 down 0.7% to 6,637 in early trading.
"Over the past two weeks, fears of a significant slowdown in Chinese economic growth have clearly re-emerged as credit conditions in the country have tightened and commodity prices have sharply declined," explained analysts at Jefferies this morning.
Copper futures for three-month delivery on the London Metal Exchange were little changed $6,469 a metric ton after falling to a low of $6,411 early on, their lowest intraday level since July 2010.
Investors were also continuing to digest the latest developments in Ukraine ahead of the looming Crimea referendum on March 16th. With the Crimea region set to vote on whether or not to split from Ukraine and join Russia, Western leaders have threatened more sanctions on Russia.
Meanwhile, emerging fears about new protests in Turkey were also a cause for concern this morning with the Borsa Istanbul 100 index trading down 1% early on. Clashes have erupted in the aftermath of the death of a boy nine months after he was injured in the Istanbul protests last year.
Ex-div stocks weigh, IPOs in focus
A number of heavyweight FTSE 100 stocks were lower this morning after going ex-dividend, including British American Tobacco, Hammerson, Standard Chartered, Meggitt, Hargreaves Lansdown and Land Securities.
On the FTSE 250, Direct Line, Costain, Domino's Pizza, Al-Noors Hospitals and Serco all went ex-div today.
Precious metals producer Randgold also went ex-dividend today but inched upwards as the stock tracked gold prices higher which rose to a 19-week high on safe-haven demand.
The wider mining sector was in the red with Kazakhmys, Anglo American and BHP Billiton registering losses. Banks such as HSBC, Barclays and RBS were also trading lower.
UK retailers Poundland and Pets at Home were being closely watched today as they listed on the UK stock market, with both pricing their initial public offerings (IPOs) at the top of their expected ranges. Poundland jumped instantly after the open, while Pets at Home fell, but was still within the indicative price range set out by the company.
"Taken together, both IPO debuts will be seen as a success, as retail investors were given the opportunity to be involved in the IPOs. Both these companies are consumer facing, so highly popular in the UK," said Market Strategist Ishaq Siddiqi from ETX Capital.
Insurance giant Prudential was in positive territory after reporting a 17% rise in operating profit and a 15% increase in the full-year dividend after a "strong performance in 2013".
Security solutions provider G4S, however, failed to impress with its 2013 results after an "extremely challenging year".
FTSE 100 - Risers
Prudential (PRU) 1,418.00p +4.19%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 336.50p +0.81%
Group (VOD) 227.95p +0.75%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 1,501.00p +0.67%
Tesco (TSCO) 315.90p +0.40%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 231.40p +0.26%
Centrica (CNA) 327.80p +0.24%
SSE (SSE) 1,430.00p +0.21%
William Hill (WMH) 376.90p +0.21%
BT Group (BT.A) 400.90p +0.10%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
G4S (GFS) 235.30p -4.12%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,202.00p -3.76%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,215.50p -3.57%
Hammerson (HMSO) 556.00p -2.80%
Meggitt (MGGT) 454.80p -2.42%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 605.10p -1.87%
Land Securities Group (LAND) 1,048.00p -1.78%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 291.90p -1.78%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,513.00p -1.75%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,411.50p -1.67%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 143.10p +2.80%
Perform Group (PER) 280.00p +1.82%
WH Smith (SMWH) 1,194.00p +1.70%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,495.00p +1.49%
esure Group (ESUR) 268.40p +1.44%
Hiscox Ltd (HSX) 671.00p +1.28%
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 784.50p +0.97%
Brewin Dolphin Holdings (BRW) 335.00p +0.90%
KCOM Group (KCOM) 98.95p +0.76%
Amlin (AML) 477.80p +0.70%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 236.30p -5.48%
Direct Line Insurance Group (DLG) 255.90p -4.23%
Brown (N.) Group (BWNG) 555.50p -4.14%
RPS Group (RPS) 328.70p -3.58%
Serco Group (SRP) 446.60p -3.42%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 409.90p -2.45%
Devro (DVO) 258.20p -2.20%
Rightmove (RMV) 2,615.00p -2.17%
Tullett Prebon (TLPR) 325.00p -2.11%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 560.00p -2.10%