London close: Stocks shrug off England's World Cup hangover
London stocks coped admirably well with England's post-World Cup hangover on Thursday, recouping much of the heavy losses taken the previous session, with gains capped as the pound rose on the publication of the government's Brexit white paper.
The FTSE 100 finished up 59.37 points, or 0.8%, at 7,651.33, having fallen 1.3% a day earlier on the ramping up of US trade threats to China.
Sterling rose a tentative 0.2% against dollar to 1.3232 but flattened off versus the euro to 1.1318 as the 104-page Brexit white paper was published, giving detail of the government's ideal future post-divorce relationship between Britain and the European Union.
The document, introduced to parliament by new Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab in somewhat chaotic scenes on Thursday, when parliament had to be suspended so that MPs could be issued with copies of the document, stated the UK would seek “reciprocal arrangements, consistent with the ending of free movement” that supported businesses to provide services and to “move their talented people”.
The document also seeks to establish plans for the UK to agree to to a “common rule book” of standards for goods and calls for facilitated customs arrangement in which the UK would collect both UK and EU tariffs for goods entering Britain, which "would enable the UK to control its own tariffs for trade with the rest of the world and ensure businesses paid the right or no tariff".
Analyst Kathleen Brooks at Capital Index said the white paper was "mostly as expected", with services and finance to have much looser ties. "Considering the focus on the finance sector’s relationship with the EU, UK bank stocks have been remarkably resilient to the news," she said.
Meanwhile, investors were digesting a Bloomberg report suggesting that Chinese and US officials have shown willingness to resume talks over trade between the two nations after.
Oanda analyst Craig Erlam said: "Many agree that tariffs will ultimately be bad for the global economy and therefore markets but there still seems to be some hope that common sense will prevail and a full blown trade war will be averted."
In corporate news, Sky rose as the battle for the London-listed broadcaster stepped up a notch after US media giant Comcast raised its bid late on Wednesday to £14.75 per share from £12.50, trumping the sweetened £14 per share bid from 21st Century Fox that was made just hours earlier. Furthermore, the UK government cleared a takeover by Fox, so both bids could be put to a shareholder vote.
Miner Rio Tinto was lifted as it agreed to sell its entire interest in the Grasberg mine in Indonesia to the country's state mining company for $3.5bn. Most of the other mining giants were little moved.
Computacenter surged after saying that 2018 results are likely to be "comfortably in excess" of the expectations it set out in its first quarter trading update following a strong start to the year.
Outsourcer Capita gained as it said it expects to raise more than £400m from non-core asset disposals this year, £100m ahead of its previous target. It also won a new contract to manage SATs testing in primary schools.
Bookmaker Paddy Power was on the rise after England was knocked out of the World Cup by Croatia, meaning there'll be no big payout to punters with big hopes for the team.
Discount retailer B&M European Value nudged up after reporting a jump in first-quarter revenue despite challenging market conditions.
Dunelm ended roughly flat as it reported flat like-for-like revenues and squeezed profit margins in the fourth quarter, meaning the homewares retailer expects full year underlying profit to fall almost 7% to £102m.
Outside the FTSE 350, retailer DFS was initially under the cosh as it warned on profits, saying the hot weather put off customers in the fourth quarter but clambered back into positive territory by the close. AIM-listed ASOS fell more than 10% after saying that its full-year sales growth would be "towards the lower end" of its previous 25% to 30% guidance.
Premier Oil slicked lower after a trading and operations update, while waste business Renewi slipped despite saying trading in the quarter from April 1 was in line with management's expectations with merger synergy and integration projects progressing well.
Halma, Primary Health Properties, Safestore, Superdry, Telecom Plus and WH Smith were among the companies whose stock went ex-dividend.
On the broker note front, ITV was hit by a downgrade to ‘neutral’ by Goldman Sachs, while Pagegroup was downgraded to ‘hold’ at Kepler Cheuvreux and Intu was reduced to ‘sell’ at Deutsche Bank. UBS downgraded Kingspan to 'sell' and Travis Perkins to 'neutral'.
Sky was cut to ‘neutral’ at Macquarie, but Indivior got a boost as Bank of America Merrill Lynch upgraded the stock to ‘buy’ following recent share price weakness.
FTSE 100 - Risers
AstraZeneca (AZN) 5,441.00p 3.64%
Sky (SKY) 1,545.00p 3.41%
Compass Group (CPG) 1,649.00p 3.13%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 1,653.00p 2.83%
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 1,217.00p 2.79%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,619.50p 2.63%
NMC Health (NMC) 3,652.00p 2.47%
Paddy Power Betfair (PPB) 8,510.00p 2.47%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 217.20p 2.31%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 2,059.00p 2.13%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Ocado Group (OCDO) 1,018.00p -2.72%
BT Group (BT.A) 223.65p -1.84%
ITV (ITV) 175.50p -1.10%
Smurfit Kappa Group (SKG) 3,130.00p -1.07%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 666.00p -0.72%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 182.56p -0.32%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 2,343.00p -0.26%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 2,630.50p -0.25%
Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) 312.40p -0.22%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 675.30p -0.18%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Computacenter (CCC) 1,502.00p 9.32%
Indivior (INDV) 286.80p 7.62%
Inmarsat (ISAT) 565.20p 6.92%
Capita (CPI) 169.15p 4.96%
IP Group (IPO) 137.00p 4.58%
TP ICAP (TCAP) 271.50p 4.54%
Sophos Group (SOPH) 511.00p 4.29%
Thomas Cook Group (TCG) 104.20p 4.10%
Softcat (SCT) 789.00p 3.54%
Convatec Group (CTEC) 207.10p 3.34%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
SIG (SHI) 125.50p -4.85%
Equiniti Group (EQN) 209.50p -3.90%
Intu Properties (INTU) 178.45p -3.36%
Rank Group (RNK) 177.40p -3.06%
Telecom Plus (TEP) 1,114.00p -2.79%
Renewi (RWI) 73.20p -2.40%
Daejan Holdings (DJAN) 5,730.00p -2.05%
IWG (IWG) 299.00p -2.00%
Entertainment One Limited (ETO) 372.60p -1.95%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 159.95p -1.93%