London close: FTSE firmer despite heavy housebuilders
London stocks closed higher on Wednesday despite weakness in the housebuilding sector following a trading statement from Persimmon.
The FTSE 100 was up 0.22% to 7,529.72, while the pound was down 0.49% against the euro at 1.1309 and off 0.45% versus the dollar at 1.3107.
IG analyst Joshua Mahony said sentiment was also being hit by rising fears over a potential no-deal Brexit, just 16-months away from the UK’s exit from the EU.
"A meeting between the US secretary of commerce and a number of international banks with a large UK footprint has led to an insistence that jobs will move abroad en mass in the near future given the current pace of progress," he said.
"With negotiations still faltering at the first hurdle, it is becoming increasingly likely that this government will lead us to a cliff edge, providing an increasingly bearish bias for the pound as we move forward in the absence of a breakthrough in negotiations."
European markets were mixed on the day with the DAX up 0.02% to 13,382.42, the CAC 40 trading 0.17% softer to 5,471.43 and the IBEX 35 down 0.02% to 10,228.70
In UK corporate news, Persimmon was in the red, dragging down peers Barratt Developments and Taylor Wimpey, after the housebuilder issued a statement that analysts said was light on detail, with no mention of sales rates, pricing or margins.
Marks & Spencer held onto earlier gains after reporting stronger first-half profits than expected, as it announced a slowing of its food store expansion plan and the departure of chief financial officer Helen Weir.
Energy generation and supply company SSE fell into the red as it reported a 14% drop in adjusted pre-tax profits for the six months to September and confirmed plans to merge its domestic business in the UK with Npower to form a new energy company.
Low-cost Hungarian airline Wizz Air flew lower despite lifting its profit outlook following record first-half results, with “robust” trading across all of the group’s markets.
On the upside, Workspace advanced as it posted a jump in interim pre-tax profit and net rental income amid good customer demand.
Tullow Oil nudged higher after it upped its full-year production guidance, while cyber security group Sophos lost ground despite raising its forecasts for new business.
Wetherspoon edged up after it said like-for-like sales in the first 13 weeks of the financial year were up 6.1%, while Esure rallied as it bumped up its guidance for the full year following a record third quarter thanks to a strong performance in the motor division.
OneSavings Bank was on the front foot as it reported 17% growth in its loan book for the first nine months of the year, driven primarily by its buy-to-let activities, and upgraded its loan book growth forecast.
In broker note action, Mondi was boosted by an upgrade to 'overweight' from 'equalweight' by Morgan Stanley, while Indivior was lifted by an upgrade to ‘buy’ at Citi. But AB Foods was hit as Goldman Sachs cut its stance on the Primark owner to 'neutral' from 'buy'.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Imperial Brands (IMB) 3,179.00p 2.55%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,848.00p 2.50%
CRH (CRH) 2,761.00p 2.34%
Centrica (CNA) 172.50p 2.13%
Mediclinic International (MDC) 606.50p 2.10%
ITV (ITV) 161.40p 1.96%
GKN (GKN) 327.20p 1.71%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 333.10p 1.62%
Paddy Power Betfair (PPB) 8,485.00p 1.56%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 734.10p 1.55%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
NMC Health (NMC) 3,056.00p -4.47%
Persimmon (PSN) 2,772.00p -3.55%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 3,105.00p -3.51%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,262.00p -3.30%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 636.00p -2.38%
G4S (GFS) 260.50p -2.25%
Shire Plc (SHP) 3,613.00p -2.22%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 197.50p -1.79%
BAE Systems (BA.) 570.00p -1.55%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 961.00p -1.54%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Workspace Group (WKP) 959.50p 5.91%
Kaz Minerals (KAZ) 835.00p 3.66%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 232.80p 3.56%
OneSavings Bank (OSB) 409.10p 2.92%
Auto Trader Group (AUTO) 351.90p 2.74%
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (MLC) 625.50p 2.54%
Go-Ahead Group (GOG) 1,787.00p 2.41%
Intu Properties (INTU) 213.70p 2.35%
Pets at Home Group (PETS) 187.70p 2.23%
Telecom Plus (TEP) 1,283.00p 2.15%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Wizz Air Holdings (WIZZ) 3,024.00p -9.33%
Sanne Group (SNN) 743.50p -3.13%
Rank Group (RNK) 227.50p -3.03%
Vesuvius (VSVS) 574.50p -2.63%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 264.00p -2.62%
Dixons Carphone (DC.) 152.50p -2.62%
Coats Group (COA) 85.00p -2.47%
Cobham (COB) 132.60p -2.36%
QinetiQ Group (QQ.) 234.10p -2.34%
Crest Nicholson Holdings (CRST) 545.00p -2.15%