London's FTSE 100 rebounded strongly from a six-week low on Thursday morning, snapping a three-day losing streak, after economic data showed a surprise return to growth in Chinese manufacturing activity.
The HSBC/Markit flash purchasing managers' index (PMI) for the Chinese manufacturing sector improved from 47.7 to 50.1 in August, well ahead of the 48.2 consensus forecast - the 50-point mark separates expansion from contraction.
Markets were more or less shrugging off an underwhelming set of minutes from the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting (released last night) which failed to shed any more light on a timeframe for the central bank's imminent tapering of quantitative easing.
The Federal Open Market Committee said at their July 30-31st meeting that they are "broadly comfortable" with the plan to taper stimulus by the end of the year, as they have said in the past, with the labour market having "improved substantially" and economic growth expected to "strengthen further" in the second half.
Stocks have been choppy over recent weeks in anticipation of the minutes - the Dow Jones in New York fell for the sixth consecutive day on Wednesday - as expectations increased that the Fed would begin to withdraw stimulus in September. While the outcome of this impending decision is still uncertain, these expectations have, arguably, now been priced into markets.
IMI impresses with first-half results
Engineering firm IMI was a high riser this morning after broadly meeting consensus estimates with its interim numbers with flat revenue of £1.09bn and a 1% increase in pre-tax profit to £170.1m. With the full-year result expected to be second half-weighted, investors were assured that the group "anticipate[s] better trading conditions in the remainder of the year".
Glencore Xstrata was also performing well this morning as the miner continues to recover after disappointing the market with its first-half report earlier this week. JPMorgan cut its target price but maintained its 'overweight' position on the stock today, highlighting the group's "best-in-class free cash flow".
Oil and gas services firm Wood Group was heading the other way after HSBC downgraded its rating from 'overweight' to 'neutral', saying it sees a "more benign medium-term outlook" post first-half results. Sector peers AMEC and Petrofac were also lower this morning.
Closed life and pension fund consolidator Phoenix Group was in demand after saying strong cash generation continued in the first half as it confirmed that it remains on track to reach its full-year targets.
FTSE 100 - Risers
IMI (IMI) 1,477.00p +4.83%
Glencore Xstrata (GLEN) 311.85p +2.33%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 913.00p +2.01%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 1,182.00p +1.90%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 309.00p +1.68%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 122.00p +1.67%
TUI Travel (TT.) 360.30p +1.61%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 339.30p +1.56%
Wolseley (WOS) 3,243.00p +1.53%
Meggitt (MGGT) 542.50p +1.50%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 800.00p -1.30%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,159.00p -0.43%
Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. (ENRC) 226.20p -0.40%
Experian (EXPN) 1,179.00p -0.34%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,231.00p -0.24%
Amec (AMEC) 1,068.00p -0.19%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,652.00p -0.12%
Intertek Group (ITRK) 3,233.00p -0.12%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Phoenix Group Holdings (DI) (PHNX) 767.00p +2.95%
COLT Group SA (COLT) 103.60p +2.78%
St. Modwen Properties (SMP) 313.30p +2.49%
Thomas Cook Group (TCG) 148.40p +2.42%
SIG (SHI) 181.40p +2.31%
Home Retail Group (HOME) 148.30p +2.21%
IG Group Holdings (IGG) 565.50p +2.17%
Renishaw (RSW) 1,708.00p +2.03%
AZ Electronic Materials SA (DI) (AZEM) 328.80p +2.02%
Fidessa Group (FDSA) 2,142.00p +2.00%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Premier Oil (PMO) 343.40p -3.81%
Carillion (CLLN) 291.00p -2.12%
PayPoint (PAY) 1,070.00p -1.83%
NMC Health (NMC) 352.60p -1.78%
Xaar (XAR) 820.00p -1.44%
Edinburgh Dragon Trust (EFM) 260.00p -1.33%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 153.30p -1.29%
Templeton Emerging Markets Inv Trust (TEM) 530.50p -1.21%
JPMorgan Emerging Markets Inv Trust (JMG) 539.50p -1.19%
Utilico Emerging Markets Ltd (DI) (UEM) 167.10p -1.07%