- ECB meeting the main event of the day
- China unveils 'mini-stimulus'
- Global economic data in focus
- Tullow, Standard Life upgraded
- Kingfisher rises on Mr Bricolage deal
techMARK 2,780.50 -0.09%
FTSE 100 6,663.30 +0.06%
FTSE 250 16,387.30 -0.17%
UK stocks edged higher on Thursday morning, but gains were modest with markets trading at a three-week high as investors showed caution ahead of a policy meeting in Europe.
The FTSE 100 was up just 0.1% at 6,663 early on, rising for the third straight day. The index closed at 6,659.04 on Wednesday, its highest finish since March 11th, when it ended at 6,685.52.
The positive moves this morning were helped by a so-called "mini-stimulus" package in China overnight, helping Asian markets to move higher. These measures included a tax cut for small businesses and higher funding for more low-income housing and infrastructure.
Today's main event will be the European Central Bank (ECB) meeting this afternoon as traders wait to see whether policymakers will act to stem falling inflation in the Eurozone.
While the consensus forecast is for no change from the ECB, expectations for some sort of monetary easing have unarguably increased this week. Consumer prices rose at an annual rate of just 0.5% in March, Eurostat data revealed on Monday, down from 0.8% growth the previous month and below consensus estimates.
Nevertheless, ECB Vice President Vítor Constâncio attempted to quash concerns this week, saying that he doesn't see deflation as a risk for the single-currency area. He said that "the low figure of inflation in March will be corrected to a high figure in April".
"However, the low inflation and the lowest wage inflation since 2009 should imply that the window remains open for the ECB to deliver a rate cut," said analysts at Danske Bank.
In economic data today, there will be the services purchasing managers' index (PMI) in the UK, which is expected to have slipped from 58.2 to 58.1 in March. Services PMIs are also due out in the Eurozone and US later on, along with US jobless claims and the US trade balance.
Tullow, Standard Life and Kingfisher provide a lift
Tullow Oil was a high riser in early trading after UBS upgraded the stock from 'neutral' to 'buy'. Analysts said that the investment case for the shares
has changed and the risk/reward balance is "now skewed to the upside". The business now has "greater leverage to development risk but with significant onshore exploration upside".
Insurer Standard Life was also benefiting from an upgrade after Bernstein raised its rating to 'market perform'.
B&Q and Screwfix owner Kingfisher was higher after revealing that it is in exclusive negotiations to buy French home improvement retailer Mr Bricolage, which would add a third business to its two existing brands in the country.
Specialist healthcare group BTG was in demand after saying it expects full-year sales to be at the top end of the guidance after a "transformational year". Revenues for the financial year to March 31st are expected to be at the upper end of the £275-285m guidance range, up from £234m the year before.
Homeware retailer Dunelm gained after total revenue for the third quarter grew nearly 10%. The company said that with opportunities to expand its portfolio it is confident in its growth prospects.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Tullow Oil (TLW) 780.50p +3.65%
Standard Life (SL.) 397.40p +2.13%
Kingfisher (KGF) 437.20p +1.39%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,793.00p +1.34%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 420.40p +1.30%
Imperial Tobacco Group (IMT) 2,445.00p +0.99%
Next (NXT) 6,690.00p +0.91%
Rexam (REX) 495.70p +0.90%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,524.00p +0.86%
Fresnillo (FRES) 884.50p +0.86%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Persimmon (PSN) 1,348.00p -1.17%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 910.00p -0.98%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 89.95p -0.94%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,531.50p -0.81%
SSE (SSE) 1,470.00p -0.81%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 320.60p -0.71%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,778.00p -0.67%
Pearson (PSON) 1,008.00p -0.59%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 220.00p -0.52%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,360.00p -0.50%
FTSE 250 - Risers
BTG (BTG) 560.00p +3.51%
Dunelm Group (DNLM) 996.00p +2.52%
888 Holdings (888) 150.50p +1.90%
Senior (SNR) 305.60p +1.76%
Oxford Instruments (OXIG) 1,304.00p +1.72%
EnQuest (ENQ) 123.00p +1.65%
Greencore Group (GNC) 278.30p +1.57%
Computacenter (CCC) 659.50p +1.38%
Lancashire Holdings Limited (LRE) 675.50p +1.27%
Enterprise Inns (ETI) 152.00p +1.27%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
St. Modwen Properties (SMP) 384.70p -3.10%
NMC Health (NMC) 505.50p -2.69%
Domino Printing Sciences (DNO) 783.00p -2.43%
BH Global Ltd. USD Shares (BHGU) 11.7 -2.34%
Infinis Energy (INFI) 230.30p -2.21%
Henderson Group (HGG) 265.60p -1.74%
Wetherspoon (J.D.) (JDW) 852.00p -1.56%
Pace (PIC) 440.70p -1.56%
Rank Group (RNK) 158.60p -1.55%
Carphone Warehouse Group (CPW) 333.00p -1.54%