- Rajoy denies Spanish bailout request
- Chinese data disappoints
- Tesco and Sainsbury's fall after updates
- FirstGroup sinks after West Coast failure
Stocks in the UK slipped in early trading on Wednesday as concerns about a Spanish bailout and weak economic data from China spooked investors.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy yesterday denied claims that his country is looking to request a bailout this weekend. He said that the country had no immediate plans to ask for aid.
When asked about a report in Reuters on Monday, Rajoy said: "If a news agency reports that we'll ask for aid this weekend, there can only be two explanations; that the agency is right, and knows more than I do, which is possible, or that they are not right.
"But, if it helps, and you accept that what I say is more important than this leak, I say no (we won't ask for aid this weekend.)"
Market analyst Craig Erlam from Alpari said this morning: "The comments are unlikely to have to have a major impact on the markets as long as Rajoy doesn't delay making the request for too long. It is thought that he is holding out until after the regional elections on 21 October, a similar move to what we saw earlier this year."
In economic data today, China's non-manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) fell from 56.3 to 53.7 in September, according to the National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing.
Meanwhile, China's consumer sentiment index fell from 90.4 to 89.3 last month, its lowest level since December, according to Deutsche Boerse's MNI.
FTSE 100: Retailers disappoint early on
Supermarket chains Tesco and Sainsbury's failed to impress with their updates this morning, with both providing a drag on the Footsie in the opening hour.
Global retailer Tesco fell despite seeing a return to like-for-like (LFL) sales growth in the second quarter. Both profits and margins decreased in the 29 weeks to August 25th. Meanwhile, Sainsbury's fell despite saying it had outperformed the market in the second quarter, with total sales up 4.4% excluding fuel and LFL sales up 1.9%.
Pearson, the education and publishing firm, dropped after revealing that its Chief Executive Officer Marjorie Scardino has decided to call it quits at the end of the year.
Heading the other way was mining group Xstrata after raising its copper mineral resource estimate at the major long-life development El Pachón project in San Juan Province, Argentina, by 20%.
FTSE 250: FirstGroup plummets after DfT cancels West Coast rail deal
Shares in transport firm FirstGroup took a hammering this morning after the Department for Transport (DfT) dropped the competition to award it the West Coast franchise. Following a legal challenge from current operator Virgin Rail, the DfT said it had found "significant technical flaws in the way the franchise process was conducted" and was launching a review.
Stagecoach, part owner of the Virgin Rail joint venture with Virgin Group, was in demand early on after saying it was in discussions with the government regarding the rail franchising review.
Budget airline easyJet was in demand after a surge in business at the end of the summer and a benign operating environment means it was upping its full-year profit forecasts.
BTG, the specialist healthcare company, jumped after reporting it had outperformed in the first half and was boosting its revenue expectations for the full year.
Tanzania-focused gold producer African Barrick Gold rose after raising its reserves estimate at the Bulyanhulu Upper East Project as it continues to expand the project.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Evraz (EVR) 251.00p +1.91%
Centrica (CNA) 331.60p +1.16%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,302.00p +0.85%
Shire Plc (SHP) 1,825.00p +0.55%
Glencore International (GLEN) 339.80p +0.53%
Xstrata (XTA) 971.40p +0.50%
Wolseley (WOS) 2,679.00p +0.41%
Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. (ENRC) 313.30p +0.32%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 159.50p +0.31%
Compass Group (CPG) 689.50p +0.29%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Schroders (SDR) 1,517.00p -1.69%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 682.00p -1.30%
Tesco (TSCO) 332.50p -1.25%
Weir Group (WEIR) 1,776.00p -1.22%
Pearson (PSON) 1,223.00p -1.13%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 7,690.00p -1.03%
British Land Co (BLND) 520.50p -0.95%
IMI (IMI) 941.00p -0.90%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,055.00p -0.85%
BT Group (BT.A) 230.50p -0.82%
FTSE 250 - Risers
St. Modwen Properties (SMP) 203.00p +3.84%
easyJet (EZJ) 614.00p +3.37%
BTG (BTG) 344.00p +3.27%
Diploma (DPLM) 488.90p +2.71%
NMC Health (NMC) 192.90p +2.55%
Dunelm Group (DNLM) 666.50p +1.76%
Wetherspoon (J.D.) (JDW) 489.70p +1.35%
Rank Group (RNK) 151.21p +1.35%
Home Retail Group (HOME) 91.30p +1.33%
Shanks Group (SKS) 83.00p +1.22%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
FirstGroup (FGP) 203.00p -16.80%
Ruspetro (RPO) 99.80p -7.16%
Galliford Try (GFRD) 712.50p -2.53%
Cranswick (CWK) 775.50p -2.39%
New World Resources A Shares (NWR) 266.00p -1.84%
IP Group (IPO) 116.30p -1.77%
Merchants Trust (MRCH) 370.20p -1.67%
Go-Ahead Group (GOG) 1,319.00p -1.64%
Kentz Corporation Ltd. (KENZ) 420.80p -1.43%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 173.80p -1.42%