- Stocks pause after last week's ECB rally
- Markets await FOMC meeting
- Miners up early on, UBS sees QE boost for sector
London's blue-chip index opened broadly flat in early trading on Monday as investors remained nervous ahead of another pivotal week for the global economy.
Stocks were given a boost towards the end of last week after European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi unveiled details of the bank's bond-buying programme, which included unlimited and sterilised purchases of sovereign debt with maturities over between one and three years.
Market strategist Ishaq Siddiqi from ETX Capital said this morning: "European markets kick off the week in a cautious manner as investors hold back from building risk exposure ahead of key events this week."
Wednesday will see the German Constitutional Court ruling on the European Stability Mechanism, while Thursday's focus will be on the Federal Open Market Committee meeting in the US, "both of which are major event risks", Siddiqi said.
"Germany's opposition of the ECB's bond buying plan and the mixed data picture of the US economy prompt a huge degree of uncertainty over both events."
Meanwhile, sentiment will be pressured lower today by some gloomy economic data from China. The world's second-largest economy reported significantly worse-than-expected import figures for August, falling for the first time in a non-holiday period since 2009. This after industrial production data released on Sunday came in slightly below forecasts for August, revealing an 8.9% year-on-year pace of expansion.
Also overnight, Japan´s Cabinet Office slashed its estimate of gross domestic product growth for the second quarter to an annualized rate of 0.7% (Consensus: 1.0%), versus the preliminary estimate of 1.4%.
Xstrata and the miners make gains early on
Mining stocks were performing well this morning, with Xstrata among the risers following Friday's eleventh-hour adjustment to the offer by Glencore. Glencore released its proposal to Xstrata this morning, saying that "it is content with Xstrata's request for Xstrata management and senior employees to receive appropriate retention and incentive packages."
UBS said that the outlook for the UK mining sector is improving with quantitative easing (QE) measures now expected. The broker said: "QE triggers a return of capital flows to emerging markets, incentivising companies to stop running for cash and embark on a commodity bullish restocking phase. As in the past, QE is likely to drive up commodity prices and in turn mining equities." Vedanta, Rio Tinto and Kazakhmys were high risers early on.
Banking group Barclays was making gains after UBS raised its target price for the stock from 205p to 235p and reiterated its 'buy' recommendation. The broker said that there is "potentially significant upside if new CEO changes strategy".
Oil major BP rose on rumours that it is in advanced talks to sell a group of oilfields in the Gulf of Mexico to US outfit Plains Exploration & Production.
Primark and sugar group AB Foods was out of favour despite saying that adjusted operating profits in the second half will be well ahead of last year and in line with expectations.
Spirax-Sarco was performing well after Goldman Sachs upgraded the stock to 'buy' and raised its target price from 2,100p to 2,510p. Meanwhile, Laird headed the other way after the US broker cut its recommendation to 'sell'.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Vedanta Resources (VED) 1,014.00p +3.95%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 371.30p +2.80%
Xstrata (XTA) 1,040.00p +2.56%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 673.00p +2.36%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,756.00p +1.86%
Weir Group (WEIR) 1,680.00p +1.57%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,059.00p +1.26%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,240.00p +1.14%
Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. (ENRC) 341.90p +0.94%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,386.00p +0.87%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Unilever (ULVR) 2,242.00p -1.45%
SABMiller (SAB) 2,725.00p -1.36%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,122.00p -1.32%
Glencore International (GLEN) 373.90p -1.10%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 1,292.00p -1.07%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 541.50p -1.01%
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) 1,395.00p -0.99%
Tate & Lyle (TATE) 629.00p -0.87%
Tesco (TSCO) 344.05p -0.86%
Hammerson (HMSO) 464.50p -0.85%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Spirax-Sarco Engineering (SPX) 2,102.00p +3.29%
Bumi (BUMI) 283.50p +2.94%
Dunelm Group (DNLM) 595.00p +2.67%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 70.35p +2.55%
Hays (HAS) 78.30p +1.95%
Petropavlovsk (POG) 385.30p +1.93%
Bwin.party Digital Entertainment (BPTY) 97.85p +1.72%
Henderson Group (HGG) 111.80p +1.64%
Dixons Retail (DXNS) 19.58p +1.56%
BBA Aviation (BBA) 204.20p +1.49%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Laird (LRD) 233.20p -3.08%
Rathbone Brothers (RAT) 1,310.00p -2.96%
Menzies(John) (MNZS) 615.00p -2.38%
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (MLC) 492.60p -1.77%
Bank of Georgia Holdings (BGEO) 1,225.00p -1.76%
Edinburgh Dragon Trust (EFM) 236.10p -1.67%
Marston's (MARS) 113.60p -1.65%
Talvivaara Mining Company (TALV) 139.00p -1.56%
Dechra Pharmaceuticals (DPH) 551.00p -1.43%
Savills (SVS) 400.15p -1.39%