London close: FTSE 100 ends little moved, taking pause at Mt Everest base camp
Shares in London closed little moved Thursday after their record-busting run higher yesterday, with traders pausing for breath at a veritable Mt Everest base camp and digesting a bunch of corporate results news.
FTSE 100 closed lower by 0.01% or 0.55 points to 7,382.35 and FTSE 250 ended down by 0.17% or 32.16 points at 18,950.85. Key European indices were mixed with the Euro Stoxx 50 down, Dax up and Cac 40 lower. Wall St was softer overall.
"Markets in Europe have taken a bit of a breather today after yesterday's record-breaking session," said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.
"Investors appear to be taking a time out, adjusting to the new altitude, before assessing where to go to next," he added in a statement.
He added that questions high on traders' agendas included whether the FTSE's present levels were akin to Mt Everest base camp and thus poised for a further sortie higher, or if bad weather would force a modest retreat down the mountain.
Medical technologies company ConvaTec led the blue-chips higher as the market liked its full-year results, but outsourcer Capita was roundly punished as the market disliked its, with news its CEO stepped down.
Schroders and Merlin Entertainments were also firmly out of favour after their annual results.
Other blue-chip stocks benefiting from a platter of news included HSBC, Informa and Intertek, while other news saw Rio Tinto, Anglo American, Admiral and Smurfit Kappa all lower.
"Only the most hardened bear would dare to suggest that the rally has come to an end," said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG, of the big picture.
Brexit was again in focus after the House of Lords voted late Wednesday to amend Article 50 legislation to include a guarantee for EU citizens living in the UK to stay after the country leaves the EU.
It seems likely that UK Prime Minister Theresa May's government -- whose plans have taken flak from several Tory icons in the past week -- might seek to resist any changes to its so-called Brexit Bill.
On the macroeconomic front, the pace of UK construction growth unexpectedly improved in February, thanks to strength in civil engineering.
The Markit/CIPS UK construction purchasing managers’ index rose to 52.5 from 52.24 in January, with economists having expected a reading of 52.5.
Turning to the US, Beauchamp added that -- following on from US President Donald Trump's $1trn infrastructure pledge -- the good news continued in the form of employment data.
Official data revealed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell to its lowest level in nearly 44 years last week. US initial jobless claims were down 19,000 from the previous week's revised level to 223,000.
This, said Beauchamp, added a "little more fuel to the fire" where a US Federal Reserve rate hike in March was concerned.
"Overall it has been a quiet session, as investors digested yesterday's events and took stock of the situation. What is clear is that investors continue to buy into the market in droves."
FTSE 100 - Risers
Convatec Group (CTEC) 255.70p 5.05%
Croda International (CRDA) 3,595.00p 3.22%
DCC (DCC) 6,990.00p 1.90%
BAE Systems (BA.) 650.50p 1.88%
BT Group (BT.A) 334.60p 1.87%
Severn Trent (SVT) 2,367.00p 1.63%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 988.50p 1.54%
GKN (GKN) 376.50p 1.51%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 4,747.00p 1.51%
National Grid (NG.) 984.70p 1.21%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Capita (CPI) 513.50p -9.12%
Dixons Carphone (DC.) 299.00p -3.55%
ITV (ITV) 204.30p -3.50%
Merlin Entertainments (MERL) 482.00p -3.08%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,277.00p -2.52%
Schroders (SDR) 3,050.00p -2.43%
3i Group (III) 695.50p -2.04%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 591.50p -1.99%
Persimmon (PSN) 2,108.00p -1.95%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,354.50p -1.51%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Vesuvius (VSVS) 550.00p 18.03%
Cobham (COB) 138.60p 13.42%
Allied Minds (ALM) 408.00p 4.88%
Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group (JLT) 1,092.00p 4.80%
Carillion (CLLN) 213.20p 3.19%
Hunting (HTG) 540.00p 2.86%
Cranswick (CWK) 2,399.00p 2.83%
Ascential (ASCL) 303.30p 2.81%
BBA Aviation (BBA) 314.00p 2.78%
Keller Group (KLR) 901.00p 2.74%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Kaz Minerals (KAZ) 521.00p -7.13%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 161.70p -6.69%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,469.00p -6.13%
IP Group (IPO) 150.50p -5.11%
Debenhams (DEB) 52.10p -4.84%
SIG (SHI) 108.70p -4.65%
Beazley (BEZ) 422.50p -3.46%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 158.90p -3.29%
Serco Group (SRP) 114.00p -3.06%
Fisher (James) & Sons (FSJ) 1,598.00p -2.80%