London close: Stocks end on mixed note after no-surprises Spring Budget
(ShareCast News) - Stocks in London ended Wednesday on a mixed note following a no-real-surprises Spring Budget from UK Chancellor Philip Hammond, with traders now looking ahead to the US Federal Reserve next week and European Central Bank tomorrow.
The FTSE 100 closed the day down 0.06% or 4.38 points at 7,334.61, and the FTSE 250 finished up 0.24% or 45.13 points to 18,931.07.
This was in keeping with rises in Europe, and a mostly positive start to trade on Wall St as traders increasingly expect a Fed rate hike tomorrow.
"Hammond's Budget couldn't put a spring in the market's step," said Spreadex financial analyst Connor Campbell, pointing to the lack of any major reaction in either the FTSE or sterling.
"The most surprisingly aspect of Hammond's first (and last) Spring Budget was not any one policy, but rather what was omitted from his address to the (House of) Commons: Brexit.
"The lack of Brexity-news is likely why the reaction from the market has been so muted."
Hammond's red-box soapbox saw UK's GDP growth forecast for 2017 upped to 2.0%, from 1.4% previously, with the budget deficit cut by £16.4bn to £51.7bn.
"A cautious, steady overall approach is essentially the defining feature of the budget," said Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Markit.
Jasper Lawler, senior market analyst at London Capital Group, noted some confidence had returned to stock markets on Wednesday as official UK growth targets were lifted and China reported a usual trade deficit thanks to strong internal demand.
"The outside chance that the European Central Bank could announce a surprise tapering of its bond-buying programme at its policy meeting on Thursday has some investors sitting on the side-lines," Lawler observed.
Returning to the FTSE's performance, a number of financial-related stocks were enjoying gains late on Wednesday.
Included among these were banks such as Barclays, Standard Chartered and Lloyds, while firms in the investment sphere like 3i Group and St James's Place were also beneficiaries.
A number of insurers also posted gains, with Admiral reversing early softness to be higher, even though its full-year profits fell by a quarter due to the government's recent changes to the so-called 'Ogden'. Underlying profits did edge higher, however.
In the same sector, Legal & General's shares fell despite it lifting its full-year pre-tax profits.
Other blue-chip stocks falling included several miners and oil stocks, with the prices of safe-haven gold, industrial metals and crude all tapering, the latter on a surprise US stores build.
As such, Randgold Resources, Anglo American, Shell and BP were all on the back foot, albeit unable to offset the rises among financials.
FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,334.61 -0.06%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 18,931.07 0.24%
techMARK (TASX) 3,442.65 0.39%
FTSE 100 - Risers
Worldpay Group (WPG) 285.50p 4.77%
3i Group (III) 725.00p 2.76%
Barclays (BARC) 232.30p 2.31%
Paddy Power Betfair (PPB) 8,420.00p 1.81%
Mediclinic International (MDC) 744.00p 1.78%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,828.00p 1.61%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 755.60p 1.55%
Capita (CPI) 525.00p 1.35%
BAE Systems (BA.) 652.50p 1.32%
Carnival (CCL) 4,470.00p 1.22%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 7,000.00p -2.30%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 249.40p -1.89%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 2,077.00p -1.80%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,207.50p -1.59%
easyJet (EZJ) 940.00p -1.47%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 2,225.50p -1.24%
BT Group (BT.A) 328.50p -1.20%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,327.50p -1.12%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 749.00p -1.06%
Babcock International Group (BAB) 896.00p -1.05%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Restaurant Group (RTN) 368.90p 12.71%
Inmarsat (ISAT) 743.50p 8.62%
G4S (GFS) 288.40p 7.85%
Hill & Smith Holdings (HILS) 1,240.00p 7.83%
CMC Markets (CMCX) 128.70p 6.36%
Paysafe Group (PAYS) 425.40p 3.98%
Acacia Mining (ACA) 446.20p 3.94%
CLS Holdings (CLI) 1,766.00p 3.88%
Just Eat (JE.) 563.00p 3.87%
Ascential (ASCL) 316.00p 3.50%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Dignity (DTY) 2,296.00p -16.93%
John Laing Group (JLG) 255.10p -3.74%
Go-Ahead Group (GOG) 1,736.00p -2.85%
Berendsen (BRSN) 775.00p -2.76%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 218.30p -2.63%
Hunting (HTG) 556.00p -2.03%
Redefine International (RDI) 36.56p -1.98%
Aggreko (AGK) 903.50p -1.90%
Allied Minds (ALM) 409.40p -1.82%
Kaz Minerals (KAZ) 487.20p -1.62%