- Chinese manufacturing unexpectedly contracts
- PMI figures from Eurozone beat forecasts
- Raft of US data due out later on
- Pearson drops after gloomy update
techMARK 2,854.33 +0.22%
FTSE 100 6,830.94 +0.07%
FTSE 250 16,142.38 -0.03%
The FTSE 100 opened more or less flat on Thursday as investors showed caution after some mixed economic data from China and Europe this morning.
The Footsie, which has traded broadly sideways since for the past three days, was up just 0.1% at 6,831 early on.
The unofficial HSBC/Markit flash purchasing managers index (PMI) for Chinese manufacturing showed that the sector unexpectedly contracted in January. The PMI fell from 50.5 to 49.6 this month, disappointing analysts who had expected a smaller decline to 50.4.
"Chinese manufacturing has in-fact dropped to a six-month low, which represents a pretty poor start to 2014, adding weight to the theory that Chinese growth will continue to slow throughout the year," said Max Cohen, Financial Sales Trader from Spreadex.
In contrast, PMI figures from the Eurozone came in ahead of expectations with the manufacturing PMI for January rising from 52.7 to 53.9 and the services PMI rising from 51 to 51.9. This pushed the composite PMI up from 52.1 to 53.2, ahead of the 52.5 forecast.
After a reasonably quiet start to the week, Thursday's session looks to be relatively 'data-heavy' with a barrage of economic indicators due out in the US later on.
This include the release of American manufacturing figures, existing-home sales, jobless claims and the leading indicators index, with data being closely watched amid speculation that the Federal Reserve will continue to scale back its quantitative easing programme at its policy meeting next week.
Pearson drops after weaker-than-expected 2013
Publishing and education company Pearson sunk sharply this morning after admitting that its trading and financial performance for 2013 was "weaker than expected", particularly in North America. The Financial Times owner also gave a cautious outlook for 2014, saying that trading conditions were "still challenging" in the current quarter.
Budget airline easyJet also fell despite seeing a 3.4% jump in revenue per seat during the first quarter, as passengers carried rose 4.2%.
Supermarket stocks were under the weather this morning with Tesco, Sainsbury and Morrison all trading in the red early on.
Leading the upside was High Street giant M&S, banking group RBS and utility peers United Utilities and National Grid.
Pharmaceuticals group Shire gained after announcing the retirement of Non-Executive Chairman Matthew Emmens, who joined the company in 2003. Investors at insurance firm Aviva also welcomed the announcement of the resignation of its Chief Financial Officer Pat Regan.
Petra Diamonds was a heavy faller on the FTSE 250 despite a strong first-half trading update, as the share price pulled back sharply after a strong run in recent days. The company said it remains on track to hit its production guidance for the full year after a 31% jump in output during the first six months.
Intellectual property firm IP Group fell after saying that it would buy up the remaining 80% of Fusion IP that it does not already own for around £70m. The offer values Fusion IP shares
at 80.2p, a 27% premium to yesterday's closing price, causing the AIM-listed stock to surge this morning.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 494.20p +2.77%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 717.00p +1.99%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 354.90p +1.98%
BAE Systems (BA.) 441.00p +1.61%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) 1,879.00p +1.35%
Barclays (BARC) 281.95p +1.35%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,549.00p +1.24%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 4,885.00p +1.24%
Hammerson (HMSO) 538.00p +1.22%
Babcock International Group (BAB) 1,426.00p +1.21%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Pearson (PSON) 1,222.00p -5.86%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,412.00p -3.29%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,049.00p -1.75%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,715.00p -1.61%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,749.00p -1.22%
SABMiller (SAB) 3,008.50p -1.00%
Glencore Xstrata (GLEN) 331.70p -0.99%
ITV (ITV) 201.10p -0.94%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 807.00p -0.86%
Old Mutual (OML) 190.80p -0.83%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Perform Group (PER) 250.00p +2.88%
Essar Energy (ESSR) 65.75p +2.33%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 538.00p +2.28%
Carillion (CLLN) 356.10p +2.18%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 203.70p +2.11%
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 18.49p +2.10%
PayPoint (PAY) 1,138.00p +1.61%
Mitie Group (MTO) 334.50p +1.61%
Jupiter Fund Management (JUP) 384.70p +1.24%
BBA Aviation (BBA) 306.70p +1.12%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Petra Diamonds Ltd.(DI) (PDL) 128.30p -4.89%
Ladbrokes (LAD) 149.50p -3.30%
IP Group (IPO) 174.10p -3.22%
UDG Healthcare Public Limited Company (UDG) 345.00p -2.27%
Direct Line Insurance Group (DLG) 261.70p -2.06%
esure Group (ESUR) 284.30p -1.97%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 165.80p -1.84%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 1,618.00p -1.76%
Oxford Instruments (OXIG) 1,764.00p -1.62%
Barr (A.G.) (BAG) 600.00p -1.56%