It was a subdued start for equity markets in London on Friday with the FTSE 100 opening broadly flat as investors adopted a cautious approach going into the long weekend.
Stocks were pausing for breath early on after a strong rise the day before on the back of improving economic data from across the globe.
Manufacturing data from China, the Eurozone and US all improved in August with the Chinese sector specifically unexpectedly returning to growth this month. Meanwhile in the States, jobless claims rose but remained near a six-year low and an index of leading economic indicators beat expectations.
Nevertheless, it has been a choppy week for financial markets - US bond yields hit two-year highs, emerging-market currencies came under pressure - as traders awaited the minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting out on Wednesday evening.
The statement itself however was rather underwhelming with the Fed failing to shed any more light on a timeframe for the central bank's imminent tapering of quantitative easing. Policymakers said they were "broadly comfortable" with the plan to taper stimulus by the end of the year, as they have said in the past.
Analysts expect markets to remain volatile and sensitive to economic data over the next few weeks in anticipation of the next policy meeting in September, with most now predicting a slight reduction in asset purchases to begin next month.
Croda gains after broker upgrade
Speciality chemicals firm Croda International was a high riser this morning after Deutsche Bank upgraded the stock to 'buy' and hiked its target price from 2,400p to 2,850p.
Mining stocks such as Antofagasta, Fresnillo, Randgold and Anglo American were in demand as metals prices edged higher.
BHP Billiton however was lower on the news that it has handed Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie, who has been on the job for just three months, a £4.6m bonus.
Banking stocks were under pressure this morning after Moody's warned last night that it had placed ratings on the six-largest US banks on review for a possible downgrade. Barclays and RBS were among the worst performers in London today.
Oil and gas group Afren was in the red this morning after first-half profits sunk 16% year-on-year due to one-off costs. Nevertheless, revenues rose 2% despite a dip in the oil price
as production grew strongly.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Croda International (CRDA) 2,646.00p +3.08%
Prudential (PRU) 1,143.00p +1.96%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 923.50p +1.71%
Carnival (CCL) 2,516.00p +1.70%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 289.60p +1.19%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 5,100.00p +1.19%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,519.50p +1.00%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 2,842.00p +0.99%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 886.00p +0.85%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,225.00p +0.82%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 4,473.00p -1.02%
GKN (GKN) 342.60p -0.78%
CRH (CRH) 1,393.00p -0.71%
Unilever (ULVR) 2,511.00p -0.67%
Barclays (BARC) 282.90p -0.63%
Diageo (DGE) 1,996.50p -0.60%
Amec (AMEC) 1,076.00p -0.55%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 359.90p -0.47%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 197.30p -0.45%
Capita (CPI) 987.00p -0.40%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Menzies(John) (MNZS) 758.00p +2.85%
Crest Nicholson Holdings (CRST) 338.40p +2.48%
BH Global Ltd. USD Shares (BHGU) 11.85 +2.16%
Keller Group (KLR) 1,107.00p +2.03%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 162.50p +1.94%
Renishaw (RSW) 1,729.00p +1.83%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 661.50p +1.77%
Salamander Energy (SMDR) 123.50p +1.56%
Redrow (RDW) 230.00p +1.55%
Evraz (EVR) 121.50p +1.50%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Afren (AFR) 141.70p -2.88%
Bumi (BUMI) 205.00p -2.38%
United Drug (UDG) 338.20p -1.69%
ITE Group (ITE) 292.30p -1.42%
Carpetright (CPR) 665.00p -0.82%
Diploma (DPLM) 631.50p -0.79%
NB Global Floating Rate Income Fund Ltd GBP
(NBLS) 106.20p -0.75%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,081.00p -0.73%
Carillion (CLLN) 288.00p -0.62%
COLT Group SA (COLT) 99.40p -0.60%