- Markets at highest level since May 2013
- UK jobless data, MPC minutes in focus
- Miners provide a lift but BHP subdued
techMARK 2,859.42 +0.46%
FTSE 100 6,856.45 +0.32%
FTSE 250 16,203.07 +0.36%
UK markets opened with moderate gains on Wednesday morning as the FTSE 100 continues to trade at its highest level in eight months.
London's benchmark index was 0.3% higher at 6,856 early on, meaning that it has gained nearly 4% over the past month and is trading slightly above last year's high of 6,840.27 reached in May 2013.
In fact, the 6,875 intraday high set last year is "the only historical resistance to break before taking on all-time high recorded back in 1999", according to Toby Morris, Senior Sales Trader at CMC Markets.
Investors were awaiting a barrage of UK economic data this morning, including the unemployment rate for the three months to November, which is expected to fall from 7.4% to 7.3%.
Claims for jobless benefits are also expected to have declined to 32,000 in December from 36,700.
Meanwhile, public-sector borrowing figures and minutes from the Bank of England's latest Monetary Policy Committee meeting will also keep markets busy.
Miners gain, but BHP flat after downgrade
Mining stocks were among the best performers early on after a weak day yesterday with Anglo American, Rio Tinto, Antofagasta, Randgold Resources and Glencore Xstrata providing a lift in London.
BHP Billiton, however, was more or less flat after its production report for its second quarter. While the company reported strong output over the first half from the majority of its asset classes, the stock was under pressure from a downgrade by HSBC to 'neutral'.
HSBC also lowered its recommendations for both public-sector services firm Serco and miner African Barrick Gold to 'neutral'.
RBS was lower after UBS last night downgraded the stock from 'neutral' to 'sell', saying that the current share price already discounts much of the progress expected to be made from recent restructuring over the next 18 months. As such, there is a "risk of underperformance even if management outperforms business targets", UBS said.
In contrast, insurance firm Standard Life was lifted by an upgrade by RBC Capital Markets to 'outperform'. Sector peer Admiral was also making gains this morning after an upgrade by Numis to 'buy'.
UK pub operator JD Wetherspoon rose after reporting a strong pick-up in like-for-like revenue growth to 6.7% in the second quarter covering the key Christmas period, from 3.7% in the first quarter.
UK residential property company Grainger was higher after receiving planning permission to build 84 new homes in Kensington and Chelsea, London.
A number of stocks were trading lower after going went ex-dividend this morning, including Compass and IG Group.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,462.00p +3.32%
Sage Group (SGE) 424.60p +2.78%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,853.00p +1.68%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,281.50p +1.55%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,174.00p +1.51%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 831.50p +1.46%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,375.00p +1.40%
Standard Life (SL.) 389.20p +1.38%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 1,004.00p +1.31%
Carnival (CCL) 2,586.00p +1.29%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 351.80p -2.01%
SSE (SSE) 1,316.00p -1.79%
Wolseley (WOS) 3,475.00p -1.14%
William Hill (WMH) 351.90p -0.98%
SABMiller (SAB) 3,059.50p -0.86%
Compass Group (CPG) 971.00p -0.72%
BG Group (BG.) 1,334.00p -0.60%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,543.00p -0.39%
Amec (AMEC) 1,050.00p -0.38%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 854.00p -0.35%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Vedanta Resources (VED) 936.00p +3.03%
Dixons Retail (DXNS) 47.40p +2.55%
Wetherspoon (J.D.) (JDW) 806.00p +2.15%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 677.00p +1.88%
Petra Diamonds Ltd.(DI) (PDL) 127.30p +1.84%
Keller Group (KLR) 1,188.00p +1.80%
Bank of Georgia Holdings (BGEO) 2,345.00p +1.74%
TalkTalk Telecom Group (TALK) 322.90p +1.73%
Carphone Warehouse Group (CPW) 286.00p +1.60%
Kentz Corporation Ltd. (KENZ) 669.00p +1.59%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Rank Group (RNK) 146.10p -2.60%
St. Modwen Properties (SMP) 382.00p -2.15%
Aveva Group (AVV) 2,286.00p -1.38%
NMC Health (NMC) 481.90p -1.25%
City of London Inv Trust (CTY) 379.00p -1.04%
IG Group Holdings (IGG) 624.00p -1.03%
Computacenter (CCC) 642.50p -1.00%
Catlin Group Ltd. (CGL) 538.00p -0.92%
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 18.05p -0.88%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 204.70p -0.87%