- Eurozone GDP figures ahead
- Italian politics in focus as PM resigns
- Miners rise strongly, banks and retailers fall
techMARK 2,822.53 -0.05%
FTSE 100 6,650.83 -0.13%
FTSE 250 16,045.41 +0.10%
UK stocks opened slightly lower on Friday morning with strong gains from mining stocks outweighed by weakness in the banking and retail sectors.
Investors were showing caution ahead of the release of economic growth data from the Eurozone, while keeping a close watch on political instability in Italy.
The FTSE 100 was trading down 0.1% at 6,651 in early trade.
Eurozone gross domestic product (GDP) figures released this morning are expected to show that the single-currency region expanded at a quarter-on-quarter rate of 0.2% in the fourth quarter of 2013, picking up slightly from the 0.1% growth seen in the third quarter.
In Italy, Prime Minister Enrico Letta has said he will resign today after his Democratic Party pushed for a new leader.
Party leader Matteo Renzi called for a change of government yesterday following a meeting with Letta. Renzi, who has previously accused Letta of lack of action on improving the economy, is widely expected to take over the helm without an election.
Banks, retailers under the weather
Banking stocks were among the worst performers early on with RBS, Standard Chartered, HSBC and Barclays registering losses. Lloyds was extending losses after its poorly-received 2013 results on Thursday with selling pressure continuing despite an upgrade by JPMorgan Cazenove to 'overweight'.
Tate & Lyle and Rolls-Royce were also continuing to trade lower after plummeting yesterday as both companies warned on profits.
Retailers were also out of favour today with Morrison leading the decline after Exane BNP Paribas downgraded the stock to 'underperform'. Sainsbury, Next and Tesco also retreated.
In contrast, High Street department store Marks & Spencer edged higher on the back of speculation that it could soon unveil plans for a share buyback in an attempt to win back investor confidence in its turnaround.
Mining stocks were leading the upside today with Anglo American among the best performers after reporting a 6% increase in 2013 underlying profits to $6.6bn as currency gains offset falling commodity prices during the year. Fresnillo, Antofagasta and BHP Billiton were also in demand this morning, tracking metal prices higher.
Oilfield services group Petrofac was higher after Berenberg raised its rating on the stock to 'buy' and hiked its target price from 1,370p to 1,740p.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Fresnillo (FRES) 964.50p +4.55%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 923.00p +1.93%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,902.00p +1.66%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,285.00p +1.58%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,557.00p +1.53%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 448.70p +1.52%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,753.00p +1.41%
Glencore Xstrata (GLEN) 336.60p +1.37%
Mondi (MNDI) 992.00p +1.28%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 308.80p +1.11%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 232.20p -1.65%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 402.00p -1.52%
Imperial Tobacco Group (IMT) 2,318.00p -1.40%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 749.00p -1.25%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 340.40p -1.02%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,783.00p -0.96%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 928.50p -0.96%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 348.80p -0.91%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 219.45p -0.90%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 96.70p -0.87%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,327.00p +6.67%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 288.00p +5.53%
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 16.69p +4.64%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 214.40p +3.93%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 51.85p +3.18%
AL Noor Hospitals Group (ANH) 862.50p +2.74%
Ladbrokes (LAD) 149.30p +2.47%
Polymetal International (POLY) 650.00p +2.12%
Fidessa Group (FDSA) 2,364.00p +1.55%
Alent (ALNT) 327.50p +1.33%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Cranswick (CWK) 1,271.00p -2.98%
Rank Group (RNK) 140.00p -2.51%
PayPoint (PAY) 1,103.00p -2.39%
Unite Group (UTG) 431.02p -1.14%
Home Retail Group (HOME) 184.90p -1.12%
KCOM Group (KCOM) 98.50p -1.10%
Riverstone Energy Limited (RSE) 920.00p -1.08%
Catlin Group Ltd. (CGL) 556.50p -1.07%
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (MLC) 575.50p -0.95%
Lonmin (LMI) 322.50p -0.83%