- Barclays rises as investors digest wave of corporate earnings
- Russian sanctions, Gaza and Argentina in focus
- US economic data, Fed decision due out later on
techMARK 2,785.48 +0.12%
FTSE 100 6,797.66 -0.15%
FTSE 250 15,671.08 -0.10%
UK markets opened slightly lower on Wednesday as investors digested a wave of corporate earnings and cautiously awaited economic data and a policy decision Stateside later on.
Meanwhile, traders were still watching developments in the Ukraine crisis after US and EU leaders announced a fresh round of sanctions on Russia yesterday. Relentless fighting in Gaza and a potential debt default in Argentina were also likely to be weighing on risk appetite.
The FTSE 100 was trading down 0.2% at 6,798 in early trading as strong gains from Barclays, Travis Perkins and AstraZeneca were offset by falls from Antofagasta, ITV and Tullow Oil.
After a relatively quiet start to the week macro-wise, things will pick up today with a flurry of economic indicators due out during the morning session, including Eurozone confidence data and Germany inflation.
However, the focus is likely to be on the US later on with the closely-watched ADP employment report and second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) estimates due out before the opening bell on Wall Street, and the Federal Reserve's policy decision scheduled for this evening.
Angus Campbell, Senior Analyst at FxPro, said that the GDP figures are "like to move the market most - this is because tonight's [Fed meeting] does not include a press conference and so there's unlikely to be any changes to what we saw or heard last month".
Barclays leads banks higher
Barclays was a high riser this morning as it reported a less-than-expected 12% fall in total income adjusted for insurance claims for the first half to £13.32bn, driven by reductions at its investment and African banking units. The consensus estimate had been for a drop to £13.23bn.
Domestic banking peers RBS and Lloyds were also on the rise.
Housebuilder Travis Perkins also impressed as it reported double-digit growth across the board in the first half, with like-for-like revenues up 10.2% and profits up 16%. The company said it expects "continued solid growth" for the rest of the year.
Astrazeneca was in demand after it struck a deal with drug developer Almirall for the rights to the Spanish group's respiratory franchise. The initial consideration is $875m,
Chile-focused mining group Antofagasta underwhelmed as it maintained its production guidance for 2014 after a sequential increase in output in the second quarter, while net cash costs were broadly flat.
Shares of broadcaster ITV were in negative territory with the stock retreating after its recent strong run. Nevertheless, the company managed to beat expectations with its first-half results this morning with pre-tax profits up 16%.
Also lower was Tullow Oil as it dropped into the red in the first half of 2014, after exploration write-offs more than doubled. Tullow reported a loss before tax of $29m in the first six months of the year, compared with a profit of $486m in the first half of 2013.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Barclays (BARC) 226.35p +3.31%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,679.00p +2.07%
Severn Trent (SVT) 1,955.00p +0.93%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 4,353.00p +0.71%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 356.20p +0.62%
Capita (CPI) 1,222.00p +0.58%
Carnival (CCL) 2,139.00p +0.56%
BT Group (BT.A) 389.00p +0.52%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 5,245.00p +0.48%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 203.70p +0.39%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Antofagasta (ANTO) 838.00p -1.99%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 318.40p -1.52%
GKN (GKN) 360.60p -1.48%
CRH (CRH) 1,442.00p -1.44%
Compass Group (CPG) 994.00p -1.39%
WPP (WPP) 1,196.00p -0.99%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,441.00p -0.98%
TUI Travel (TT.) 364.50p -0.84%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 173.10p -0.80%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 687.50p -0.79%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Pets at Home Group (PETS) 182.30p +7.24%
Riverstone Energy Limited (RSE) 925.00p +2.21%
IP Group (IPO) 195.90p +2.14%
Dignity (DTY) 1,408.00p +1.88%
Perform Group (PER) 211.00p +1.78%
National Express Group (NEX) 261.00p +1.68%
Diploma (DPLM) 635.50p +1.68%
Fisher (James) & Sons (FSJ) 1,337.00p +1.60%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 116.40p +1.57%
BTG (BTG) 616.00p +1.48%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Vedanta Resources (VED) 1,057.00p -3.03%
Jupiter Fund Management (JUP) 406.70p -2.02%
Investec (INVP) 525.50p -1.78%
Pace (PIC) 355.90p -1.66%
Betfair Group (BET) 1,026.00p -1.63%
Beazley (BEZ) 254.30p -1.59%
Rotork (ROR) 2,767.00p -1.53%
Spectris (SXS) 1,931.00p -1.48%
International Personal Finance (IPF) 577.50p -1.45%
Fenner (FENR) 337.60p -1.43%