London open: Stocks edge higher ahead of employment data
(ShareCast News) - London stocks edged higher in early trade, taking their cue from a positive session in the US, where equities were boosted by unexpectedly hawkish comments from Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen, as investors eyed some key figures on unemployment and wages.
At 0825 GMT, the FTSE 100 was up 0.3% to 7,292.30 . Meanwhile, oil prices retreated, with West Texas Intermediate down 0.8% to $52.78 a barrel and Brent crude off 0.6% to $55.65.
Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said: "Following on from yesterday's inflation extravaganza this morning's focus turns to the state of the UK jobs market.
"With inflation on the rise the most talked about figure this Wednesday will likely be the wage growth reading, which is set to remain unchanged at 2.8%. That's all well and good for now, but given that UK inflation could hit 3% at some point in the second half of 2017 growth needs to pick up to avoid severely pinched pockets across the country. Elsewhere the unemployment rate is set to come in at 4.8% for the fourth month in a row, while the claimant count change is expected to jump up to 1.1k having seen a surprising 10.1k drop in December."
Average earnings, the claimant count and the unemployment rate are at 0930 GMT.
Yellen, who will testify before the House Financial Services Committee later on Wednesday, said that a "rate increase will likely be appropriate in upcoming meetings" if the economic recovery stays on course, which saw the dollar rally and US stocks hit new records.
"Although the Chair did not mention whether the increase would come in March or June, the hawkish tone revived the risk-on traders in New York," said analyst Ipek Ozkardeskaya at London Capital Group.
Overnight, the market gave a 34% probability for a Fed rate hike in March, 73.5% probability for June.
In corporate news, defence technology specialist Qinetiq rallied after saying underlying trading was as expected during the third quarter and that its aspirations for the full year to end-March were unchanged.
Transport operator Stagecoach edged up as it said it has sold its interest in the Twin America joint venture for an undisclosed sum.
FTSE 250 financial broker NEX Group fell as it posted an 11% rise in revenue for the third quarter as Donald Trump's US presidential win lifted trading activity, although the company warned it was still too early to assume that a period of subdued market conditions had come to an end.
Elsewhere, bookmakers William Hill and Ladbrokes were under the cosh after HSBC downgraded both stocks in light of a potential consumer slowdown and growing regulatory risks.
FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,296.18 0.38%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 18,819.99 0.17%
techMARK (TASX) 3,352.67 0.30%
FTSE 100 - Risers
Standard Chartered (STAN) 813.90p 1.89%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 244.90p 1.62%
Barclays (BARC) 238.65p 1.45%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 1,689.00p 1.38%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 704.90p 1.10%
BT Group (BT.A) 308.65p 0.95%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 246.20p 0.94%
Old Mutual (OML) 215.70p 0.94%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 67.08p 0.89%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) 3,144.00p 0.87%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 1,154.00p -5.25%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 869.50p -1.08%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 6,853.00p -1.05%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,508.00p -1.05%
Dixons Carphone (DC.) 310.60p -0.77%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 7,360.00p -0.74%
Capita (CPI) 523.50p -0.66%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,377.00p -0.58%
Sage Group (SGE) 634.00p -0.55%
Croda International (CRDA) 3,362.00p -0.41%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Acacia Mining (ACA) 519.00p 3.39%
Ibstock (IBST) 197.40p 3.35%
Entertainment One Limited (ETO) 253.50p 3.05%
Aldermore Group (ALD) 233.60p 2.55%
Hunting (HTG) 584.50p 2.54%
QinetiQ Group (QQ.) 280.40p 1.52%
Sophos Group (SOPH) 293.90p 1.34%
Shawbrook Group (SHAW) 261.40p 1.32%
Investec (INVP) 595.00p 1.28%
TR Property Inv Trust (TRY) 302.80p 1.27%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
William Hill (WMH) 264.10p -2.90%
Ladbrokes Coral Group (LCL) 122.70p -2.46%
Pets at Home Group (PETS) 182.10p -1.14%
Evraz (EVR) 243.60p -1.14%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 173.70p -1.08%
Carillion (CLLN) 220.80p -1.03%
RPC Group (RPC) 927.00p -0.96%
CMC Markets (CMCX) 114.60p -0.95%
BH Macro Ltd. GBP Shares (BHMG) 2,095.00p -0.80%
Dunelm Group (DNLM) 632.50p -0.78%