London close: FTSE 'forgettable' on Monday as UK inflation, jobs data loom
(ShareCast News) - Stocks in London put in a "forgettable" day's trade on Monday with market watchers already looking to UK inflation data and jobs numbers out later in a shortened trading week ahead of the Easter break.
"Equities are ... struggling for direction amid a lack of significant macroeconomic and corporate releases," said Henry Croft, research analyst at Accendo Markets.
The FTSE 100 finished Monday down 0.01% to 7,348.94, while the FTSE 250 ended the day up 0.18% to 19,264.60. Sterling was making modest inroads against the US dollar and euro.
On Wall St., the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite were all advancing, while in Europe the Euro Stoxx 50, Dax and Cac 40 were all lower.
"Today has been one of the more forgettable trading days in a while; things should pick up, however on Tuesday and Wednesday," said Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex.
"The former sees the latest UK inflation figure, which has gradually become one of, if not the, biggest mover of the pound since the referendum last summer," he said.
The UK consumer-price index hit 2.3% in February, which was ahead of the Bank of England's targeted 2%. March's reading, Campbell said, was set to slip back to 2.2%. That was followed on Wednesday by the UK jobs report. In March, inflation outstripped wage growth. Sterling would be sensitive to both sets of data.
"Investors are going to be keen to see if there has been any further widening of the gap between two of the more crucial post-Brexit metrics," added Campbell.
Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG, said the first day of the shortened week ahead of the Easter break had passed without incident, although a degree of hesitation prevailed before a speech by US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen at 21:00 GMT tonight.
"The main story of the day is that there hasn't really been a story at all," he said. "Investors are undoubtedly hoping that Ms Yellen's speech tonight will throw some more light on the mention of balance sheet changes in last week's Fed minutes, since this is perhaps the biggest risk to the ongoing rally in equity markets."
Looking more closely at London stocks and besides a run of blue-chip news, supermarket, house building, pharma and a number of financial stocks did well, but several multi-commodity and gold miners suffered, as did utility and commercial property shares.
Tesco rose as it said the deferred prosecution agreement over false accounting in 2014 entered into by its subsidiary, Tesco Stores Ltd, had been approved by a court. Tesco would pay a £129m fine to the SFO in exchange for not being prosecuted.
South African private hospital group Mediclinic International gained as it said Swiss platform Hirslanden was expected to take a limited hit in 2018 after the Zurich Cantonal Parliament voted not to approve a proposed levy on privately insured patients treated in listed hospitals.
Mining heavyweight Rio Tinto nudged higher on confirming it paid $4bn in taxes and royalties in 2016. It was also helped by a rating upgrade from CLSA.
Barclays advanced from earlier softness after City watchdogs launched a probe into its chief executive's attempts to uncover the identity of a secret whistle-blower at the bank.
BHP Billiton rallied after activist investor Elliott Management urged the company's directors to cancel the miner's London listing in a unification with its Australian headquarters and to dispose of its US petroleum business.
Anglo American dipped after saying it would sell its Eskom-tied thermal coal operations in South Africa to Seriti Resources Holdings Proprietary, a company majority owned by historically disadvantaged South Africans, for 2.3bn rand ($164m).
AstraZeneca fell as Jefferies downgraded the stock to 'hold' from 'buy', but Hikma Pharmaceuticals was lifted by an upgrade to 'buy' from 'add' at Numis.
FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,348.94 -0.01%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 19,264.60 0.18%
techMARK (TASX) 3,436.43 -0.02%
FTSE 100 - Risers
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,578.00p 3.78%
Mediclinic International (MDC) 722.50p 3.57%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,946.00p 3.29%
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 2,504.00p 2.58%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 346.30p 2.52%
Tesco (TSCO) 194.20p 2.37%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,316.00p 2.21%
Next (NXT) 4,110.00p 2.16%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 198.00p 1.80%
St James's Place (STJ) 1,047.00p 1.65%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,583.00p -2.52%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 7,230.00p -2.43%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 851.00p -2.07%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 2,974.00p -1.88%
DCC (DCC) 7,015.00p -1.20%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 4,738.00p -1.16%
Old Mutual (OML) 189.40p -1.15%
BAE Systems (BA.) 642.00p -1.08%
Smiths Group (SMIN) 1,617.00p -1.04%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 2,060.00p -1.01%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Tullow Oil (TLW) 238.90p 5.71%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 406.60p 4.12%
Shaftesbury (SHB) 949.00p 3.32%
Thomas Cook Group (TCG) 86.80p 3.21%
NMC Health (NMC) 1,843.00p 3.02%
esure Group (ESUR) 244.80p 2.56%
Card Factory (CARD) 298.10p 2.46%
SVG Capital (SVI) 739.00p 2.21%
Aldermore Group (ALD) 236.90p 2.20%
Telecom Plus (TEP) 1,260.00p 1.86%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 277.00p -3.62%
Evraz (EVR) 230.80p -3.03%
Debenhams (DEB) 52.90p -2.94%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 179.60p -2.81%
Euromoney Institutional Investor (ERM) 1,089.00p -2.77%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 213.10p -2.65%
Fisher (James) & Sons (FSJ) 1,619.00p -2.00%
Hill & Smith Holdings (HILS) 1,314.00p -1.94%
SIG (SHI) 113.60p -1.90%
Polymetal International (POLY) 1,045.00p -1.79%