London close: Footsie bounces after morning sell-off
Following another steep decline in early trading, the Footsie clawed its way back, surging nearly 400 points since the mid-morning to finish 1.89% higher. The blue chip index closed up 96 points.
All eyes are on the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy meeting, with markets eagerly waiting to hear of any additional stimulus actions to aid the debt-laden US. The Fed is unlikely to announce any immediate measures, but may signal help further down the line – a third bout of quantitative easing (QE3). A statement is expected later today following the meeting.
Helping sentiment was a bounce-back in US markets, with the Dow, Nasdaq and S&P jumped 2%, 3.2% and 2.8%, respectively.
A recovery in the price of oil helped the share prices of Essar Energy, Cairn Energy, John Wood and Petrofac, which were among the top ten performers of the day. Despite slumping over $5 to under $99 a barrel, Brent crude recovered to trade at $104.68 (+0.91%) by the close.
Meanwhile, silver miner Fresnillo remained the worst performer as silver prices took a hit, falling 3.29% to $38.085 by the close.
Hotels operator InterContinental Hotels Group was a high riser after revealing that operating profits jumped 23% on sales that were 10% higher, both of which were ahead of expectations. Brokerage Prime Markets said that the stock has been oversold as of late, which “should not detract from a solid 6 months of results nor the currently favourable trading environment.”
Banking shares were mixed, with HSBC and Barclays finishing higher while RBS and Lloyds closed in the red.
Electricity generator International Power fell lower despite unveiling a rise in revenues and profit in the half year to 30 June on the back of a strong performance in the Americas.
Education specialist and publisher Pearson announced that it will acquire German education materials firm Stark from Syntegra Capital for an undisclosed sum, boosting its share price.
Also pleasing investors after a buy was BHP Billiton, which signed an agreement with Leighton Holdings to acquire the HWE mining subsidiaries which provide contract mining services to the Anglo-Australian mining titan's Western Australia Iron Ore operations. The acquisition will cost US$735m (£450m), subject to working capital adjustments.
Real estate investment trust British Land was helped higher after a kind word from Swiss broker UBS, which upgraded its rating on the group from neutral to buy, saying that the firm’s strategy becomes more attractive in a “low growth and risk averse environment”.
On the FTSE 250, travel firm Thomas Cook was the best performer, surging nearly 17% in an attempt to recover from hefty losses seen on Monday.
Greggs, the bakery chain famous for cheap takeaway snacks, showed that it was suffering from the tough consumer environment, with like-for-like sales in the 26 weeks to 2 July rising by just 0.4% from the same period a year ago.