- FTSE 100 at lowest since December 18th
- Fed continues to taper, cuts bond purchases by 10bn dollars
- Chinese PMI confirms manufacturing contraction
- Barrage of data out elsewhere
techMARK 2,761.89 -0.22%
FTSE 100 6,518.96 -0.39%
FTSE 250 15,677.69 -0.07%
UK equities got off to a poor start on Thursday morning in the aftermath of the Federal Reserve's decision to scale back its stimulus programme further and some disappointing economic figures from China.
Ongoing concerns over developing nations were continuing to weigh on sentiment today as investors scaled back risk appetite ahead of what is set to be a data-heavy session for global financial markets.
The FTSE 100 was trading down 0.4% at 6,519 in early trading; it has not closed below this level since December 18th 2013.
The US central bank last night tapered quantitative easing (QE) for the second month in a row despite some suggestions that the recent volatility in emerging markets could prompt it to hold off.
This comes after policymakers in Turkey, India and South Africa all moved to tighten policy in recent days, though this has failed to stop the downwards pressure on their respective currencies.
After a two-day meeting, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) unanimously voted to cut monthly asset purchases by a further $10bn to $65bn after finding that economic growth had "picked up in recent quarters".
In other news, the final reading of the Chinese manufacturing purchasing managers' index confirmed that the sector contracted in January, with the index actually being revised slightly lower to 49.5, from a preliminary reading of 49.6 and below the 50.5 recorded in December.
The economic data schedule elsewhere looks pretty busy this morning with a barrage of indicators due out from across Europe, including: Spanish growth estimates; German unemployment and inflation; UK mortgage approvals; and Eurozone consumer confidence.
In the States, meanwhile, investors will be waiting for personal consumption and spending figures, as well as growth forecasts for the fourth quarter, jobless claims and pending home sales.
BSkyB, Shell and Johnson Matthey rise
Satellite broadcaster BSkyB gained after an 8% rise in revenue to £3.75bn in the first half, helped by strong growth in paid-for subscription products.
Investors at oil major Royal Dutch Shell welcomed the company's announcement that it will undergo a major restructuring to boost capital and cut costs after it reported a sharp fall in fourth-quarter earnings.
Johnson Matthey was also higher despite the news that its long-running boss Neil Carson would be stepping down this summer. The group gave an upbeat outlook for the second half of its financial year, saying that its performance will be ahead of previous expectations.
Heading the other way was spirits manufacturer Diageo, which took a hit from weakness in emerging markets as it revealed that global sales growth was limited to just 1.8% in the first half.
Lager giant SABMiller was also lower this morning, along with bottling firm Coca-Cola HBC.
A number of banks were trading in the red this morning including Standard Chartered and RBS. Lloyds, meanwhile, was lower after analysts at HSBC reportedly cut their rating on the stock from 'overweight' to 'neutral'.
FTSE 100 - Risers
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 413.50p +2.55%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 2,169.00p +2.05%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 860.50p +1.89%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 2,280.50p +1.69%
Sage Group (SGE) 420.60p +0.62%
Aviva (AV.) 453.70p +0.62%
William Hill (WMH) 332.50p +0.61%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,610.00p +0.44%
Pearson (PSON) 1,108.00p +0.36%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,161.00p +0.35%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Diageo (DGE) 1,817.00p -4.87%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,253.50p -2.64%
Prudential (PRU) 1,218.00p -2.09%
SABMiller (SAB) 2,749.00p -1.87%
Unilever (ULVR) 2,354.00p -1.55%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 1,627.00p -1.51%
Carnival (CCL) 2,488.00p -1.39%
Old Mutual (OML) 173.70p -1.36%
Standard Life (SL.) 367.00p -1.32%
Severn Trent (SVT) 1,733.00p -1.31%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 187.10p +4.53%
Renishaw (RSW) 1,880.00p +4.50%
Homeserve (HSV) 322.60p +3.66%
Workspace Group (WKP) 556.00p +2.21%
888 Holdings (888) 143.00p +2.14%
AL Noor Hospitals Group (ANH) 835.00p +1.95%
Essar Energy (ESSR) 60.50p +1.77%
KCOM Group (KCOM) 99.70p +1.58%
RPC Group (RPC) 586.00p +1.56%
Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) 445.30p +1.55%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Investec (INVP) 368.70p -4.58%
Bank of Georgia Holdings (BGEO) 2,123.00p -2.48%
Perform Group (PER) 238.90p -2.37%
Lonmin (LMI) 320.70p -2.34%
COLT Group SA (COLT) 124.20p -2.28%
Premier Oil (PMO) 272.80p -1.69%
Inchcape (INCH) 587.50p -1.67%
Barr (A.G.) (BAG) 613.00p -1.45%
Home Retail Group (HOME) 179.50p -1.27%
International Personal Finance (IPF) 464.90p -1.25%