- FTSE 100 flat after three straight losses
- House passes budget deal at wide margin
- Risk appetite still subdued ahead of Fed meeting
- RSA plummets after profit warning, CEO exit
techMARK 2,661.33 +0.33%
FTSE 100 6,446.47 +0.02%
FTSE 250 15,234.70 +0.15%
UK markets opened more or less flat on Friday morning after a three days of declines as investors gave a subdued reaction to the passing of a budget deal overnight in Washington.
The FTSE 100 was little changed from Thursday's finish of 6,445.25, its worst level since October 10th.
Financial stocks were performing relatively well this morning, although RSA Insurance was bucking the trend, dropping nearly 16% after a profit warning and surprise boardroom departure.
A bipartisan US budget was passed on Thursday in the House of Representatives with a vote of 332 to 94, easing the fiscal uncertainty in the States and easing spending cuts over the next two years.
The deal is expected to sail through the Senate next week, putting an end to three years of spending battles that brought the government to near-collapse, removing one more hurdle standing in the way of the Federal Reserve's decision to taper it stimulus programme.
Nevertheless, Market Analyst Craig Erlam from Alpari said that it's been a quiet week for financial markets, with fewer pieces of high-impact economic data released and the absence of comments from Fed members, who are under an embargo until the central bank's meeting on December 17-18th.
"Given how important these statements have been to the financial markets recently, with the Fed's asset purchase programme being the main driver in the markets at the moment, the markets have somewhat lacked direction," Erlam said.
"The lack of risk appetite ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting next week has actually weighed on equities a little this week, with small losses being seen as investors position themselves ahead of a possible taper."
RSA plummets after profit warning, CEO exit
RSA Insurance fell sharply from the off after lowering its 2013 earnings forecast after identifying issues in its Irish business and experiencing adverse weather in Europe. At the same time the group announced the resignation of Group Chief Executive Simon Lee with immediate effect.
Others in the financial sector were heading the other way with Prudential, Standard Chartered, Aberdeen Asset Management, Hargreaves Lansdown and Lloyds among the best performers.
Even fund manager Old Mutual was higher despite saying that its Finance Direct Philip Broadley will be leaving the company next year.
A number of stocks were trading lower this morning after being hit by broker downgrades: British gas owner Centrica was lower after a downgrade by Societe Generale to 'hold'; utilities peer Drax was cut to 'neutral' by Citigroup; travel group Thomas Cook was lowered to 'reduce' by Nomura; and miner Anglo American fell after a Deutsche Bank downgrade to 'hold'.
Perform Group was rising strongly this morning, albeit after a 58% sell-off on Thursday. The digital sports media firm warned that full-year revenues would be under previous expectations, pushing earnings "significantly" below forecasts.
FTSE 100 - Risers
AstraZeneca (AZN) 3,544.50p +2.50%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 991.50p +2.01%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 687.50p +2.00%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,311.00p +1.35%
Prudential (PRU) 1,267.00p +1.12%
Resolution Ltd. (RSL) 326.80p +1.08%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 451.90p +1.01%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 207.40p +0.88%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,276.00p +0.79%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,151.00p +0.79%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 84.00p -15.75%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,420.00p -2.00%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,523.00p -1.74%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,124.00p -1.06%
Fresnillo (FRES) 709.00p -0.98%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 2,155.50p -0.96%
Centrica (CNA) 322.10p -0.92%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,165.50p -0.83%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 2,054.00p -0.72%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 4,576.00p -0.56%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Perform Group (PER) 212.00p +17.78%
Hays (HAS) 119.60p +2.75%
Menzies(John) (MNZS) 795.00p +2.58%
Fidessa Group (FDSA) 2,265.00p +2.58%
Home Retail Group (HOME) 189.70p +2.21%
Supergroup (SGP) 1,281.00p +1.99%
St James's Place (STJ) 654.50p +1.79%
Balfour Beatty (BBY) 266.60p +1.76%
Petra Diamonds Ltd.(DI) (PDL) 114.90p +1.59%
Betfair Group (BET) 1,093.00p +1.58%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Partnership Assurance Group (PA.) 284.00p -3.99%
Thomas Cook Group (TCG) 162.60p -3.04%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 165.00p -2.65%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 201.40p -2.19%
Ted Baker (TED) 2,195.00p -2.05%
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 19.35p -1.63%
Alent (ALNT) 345.00p -1.43%
Domino Printing Sciences (DNO) 693.50p -1.42%
NMC Health (NMC) 430.00p -1.15%
Drax Group (DRX) 779.00p -1.14%