- Markets await comments from Putin on Crimea, sanctions
- Antofagasta rises after 2013 results, Sainsbury gains
- Resolution founders to step down
- ASOS, Speedy Hire plummet after updates
techMARK 2,789.35 -0.24%
FTSE 100 6,551.61 -0.25%
FTSE 250 16,261.53 -0.22%
Following Monday's respite from rising geopolitical tensions between Moscow and the West, stocks fell on Tuesday as investors awaited a speech from Russian President Vladimir Putin on Crimea's vote to join the Russian Federation.
The FTSE 100, which finished in positive territory yesterday for the first time in seven sessions, was trading 0.25% lower at 6,552 in early trading.
European Union (EU) and US leaders announced yesterday that they would impose sanctions on several Ukrainian and Russian officials after Sunday's referendum in Crimea, which saw an overwhelming majority vote in favour of leaving Ukraine. These sanctions include asset freezes and bans on travel.
All eyes are now on Putin who is due to address Russian lawmakers later on today regarding the Crimea vote and a possible response to the Western sanctions.
Market Analyst Craig Erlam from Alpari said that the situation has the potential to take a "turn for the worse" as Putin could respond by "reducing Russia's oil exports, something Europe in particular relies heavily on right now, or the West could impose harsher sanctions if the initial batch have no impact.
"Should this happen I imagine we'll see yet another flight for safety, with investors moving back towards assets such as gold, US Treasuries and the yen, all of which eased off yesterday," he said.
While the focus will remain on Putin, markets will also be watching economic sentiment data from Germany and the wider Eurozone, as well as consumer price inflation and housing figures from the US this afternoon.
Antofagasta and Sainsbury rise, Resolution slumps
Copper miner Antofagasta rose strongly after hailing a "strong set of results" for a year which was hampered by depressed metal prices. The company delivered a record level of production during 2013 but lowered its dividend slightly after a 30% slump in operating profits.
Supermarket chain J Sainsbury was higher after saying that it held on to market share despite a tough fourth quarter which saw like-for-like sales fall 3.8%.
Heading the other way was insurance group Resolution after announcing that two of its founders, Clive Cowdery and John Tiner, are stepping down from the board given that the company has completed its restructuring programme. Resolution, which now intends to change its name to Friends Life Group, reported a big jump in profits for 2013 but left its dividend unchanged.
Defence contractor BAE Systems was making gains after RBC Capital Markets lifted its rating on the stock to 'outperform' and raised its target price from 450p to 490p.
Cairn Energy fell sharply after widening its annual loss, reflecting unsuccessful exploration costs and the disposal of assets. It also said it is suspending its share buy-back programme.
Outside the FTSE 350, online fashion retailer ASOS was a big mover, falling 16% after saying that sales growth in the first two months of the year slowed more than expected and margins would be dented by increased spend on warehousing and its new Chinese operations.
Shares of Speedy Hire also tumbled after the equipment and tool rental firm warned that adjusted pre-tax profit for the year ending March 31st is now expected to be "in the region of £14.5m". This is down from £16.8m the previous year and well under current consensus estimates for a figure of around £17.8m.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Antofagasta (ANTO) 879.00p +3.72%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 316.30p +1.57%
BAE Systems (BA.) 399.80p +0.83%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 372.30p +0.76%
G4S (GFS) 237.70p +0.64%
Schroders (SDR) 2,614.00p +0.58%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 1,052.00p +0.48%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,367.00p +0.44%
Glencore Xstrata (GLEN) 307.60p +0.33%
ITV (ITV) 198.40p +0.30%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Fresnillo (FRES) 882.00p -4.60%
Resolution Ltd. (RSL) 364.50p -2.31%
Next (NXT) 6,615.00p -1.49%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,905.00p -1.29%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,428.00p -1.24%
WPP (WPP) 1,208.00p -1.23%
CRH (CRH) 1,639.00p -1.15%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 223.55p -1.08%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 95.55p -0.98%
Kingfisher (KGF) 410.10p -0.97%
FTSE 250 - Risers
IG Group Holdings (IGG) 646.00p +2.54%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 144.70p +1.69%
Henderson Group (HGG) 242.40p +1.55%
Berkeley Group Holdings (The) (BKG) 2,688.00p +1.36%
Evraz (EVR) 55.90p +1.18%
Barr (A.G.) (BAG) 591.00p +1.03%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 161.30p +1.00%
Enterprise Inns (ETI) 149.20p +0.95%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 257.40p +0.90%
Homeserve (HSV) 315.00p +0.83%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Xaar (XAR) 922.50p -7.52%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 183.40p -6.67%
Moneysupermarket.com Group (MONY) 186.60p -4.80%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 54.80p -2.14%
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 14.70p -2.00%
Essar Energy (ESSR) 63.15p -1.86%
Lonmin (LMI) 288.90p -1.60%
Synthomer (SYNT) 265.00p -1.49%
Polymetal International (POLY) 613.00p -1.45%
Hellermanntyton Group (HTY) 315.90p -1.44%