London close: Miners and analyst upgrades lift blue chip stocks
London blue chips stocks finished Monday's session microscopically higher, with a little upward momentum as investors paused for breath after a record close on Friday.
Having earlier been below the waterline, FTSE 100 closed 1.9 points higher at 7,562.28, while the pound was up 0.5% against the dollar at 1.3144 and 0.6% on the euro at 1.1331.
While the large cap benchmark was boosted by a strong showing in the mining sector and some individual broker upgrades, the mid-caps of the FTSE 250 was down 0.2% to 20,432.6.
It just so happened that analysts at Liberum issued a note where they expressed a preference for the more internationally-exposed top-flight index. As the 250 has rallied despite challenging domestic earnings expectations, analysts felt 2018 growth forecasts of 9% were looking rather optimistic on the 5% seen for 2017, especially against a backdrop of lower GDP growth, political risk and potential margin peaks.
But looking just at Monday's session specifically, IG analyst Joshua Mahony said: “Markets are on a comedown, following what as was incredibly busy week from a political, economic and corporate standpoint. With the ECB, BoJ, Fed and BoE having completed their monetary policy meetings in the past fortnight, we are now seeing a more stable and settled environment for traders as we digest all that has gone before. The focus will likely shift onto the US from here on in, with negotiations over a wide-reaching tax reform programme expected to grab the headlines.”
On the corporate front, medical technology company Convatec was the standout gainer after UBS upgraded the stock to ‘buy’ from ‘neutral’.
Similarly Severn Trent was second on the leaderboard as HSBC upgraded its rating to 'buy' from 'hold' and upped its target
price to 2,300p from 2,160p, citing confidence in the dividend and the water company's regulatory position.
Online gaming specialist Playtech was also boosted by a 'buy' rating from UBS, while GKN and Tate & Lyle were boosted by upgrades at Investec, while Mitie was up on the back of upgrades from Jefferies.
The FTSE 100 was given a good lift from its heavy weighting of mining stocks, which racked up healthy gains from iron ore prices rallying, led by BHP Billiton and Anglo American.
Rio Tinto was slightly higher as it appointed Simon Trott to the newly-created role of chief commercial officer as the group reinforces its focus on driving value across the business from mine to market.
Specialist bank Aldermore rose after it recommended a bid from South Africa's First Rand bank and reported solid results for the third quarter.
Burberry was higher ahead of interim results that are due on Thursday, with new chief executive Marco Gobbetti addressing the market for the first time.
G4S was down a day ahead of its third quarter update. The security outsourcing group flagged at its interim results in August that organic growth would slow-down in the second half on the back of tough comparatives in North America. Chief executive Ashley Almanza expects full year revenue growth to be broadly in line with the medium term target of 4-6%, though some analysts predict growth may be weak for many months yet.
EasyJet was flat as it reported a 9.9% jump in passenger numbers for October as the load factor ticked higher, but Wizz Air fared much better after its October traffic stats.
Plastics group Synthomer fell slightly after it said volumes in the third quarter remained flat on last year and that it continued to hunt for acquisition opportunities.
Healthcare company BTG dropped almost 6% after it said it had been ordered to pay a £55.3m provision after the final ruling in its patent dispute with WellStat Therapeutics went against the company. It is mulling an appeal.
Redefine was in the red after announcing the successful exchange of contracts with Patrizia Immobilien AG for the sale of the Leopard (German supermarket) portfolio.
Morgan Advanced Materials retreated despite saying trading is in line with its expectations as it reaffirmed its outlook for the full year.
IWG was hit by a downgrade to ‘sector perform’ by analysts at RBC Capital Markets.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Convatec Group (CTEC) 188.90p 3.79%
Severn Trent (SVT) 2,187.00p 2.63%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,464.50p 2.59%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,964.00p 2.56%
NMC Health (NMC) 3,168.00p 2.56%
Imperial Brands (IMB) 3,096.00p 1.91%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,511.50p 1.78%
Centrica (CNA) 170.40p 1.61%
GKN (GKN) 322.80p 1.41%
Persimmon (PSN) 2,871.00p 1.41%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
G4S (GFS) 280.20p -2.20%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 607.50p -1.62%
ITV (ITV) 157.40p -1.50%
Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) 429.20p -1.42%
Tesco (TSCO) 176.65p -1.37%
Next (NXT) 4,417.00p -1.25%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 216.40p -1.19%
Smiths Group (SMIN) 1,572.00p -1.07%
CRH (CRH) 2,764.00p -1.04%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 3,469.00p -0.97%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Playtech (PTEC) 825.00p 7.14%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 271.30p 4.91%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 136.20p 3.34%
Sophos Group (SOPH) 625.50p 3.30%
Aldermore Group (ALD) 311.70p 3.08%
Genus (GNS) 2,484.00p 2.99%
BGEO Group (BGEO) 3,691.00p 2.78%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 195.40p 2.46%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 235.40p 2.44%
Entertainment One Limited (ETO) 292.60p 2.31%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
BTG (BTG) 739.00p -5.13%
IWG (IWG) 211.80p -4.55%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 388.40p -3.12%
CLS Holdings (CLI) 228.00p -2.98%
Inchcape (INCH) 766.00p -2.36%
Coats Group (COA) 87.65p -2.07%
Dairy Crest Group (DCG) 594.00p -2.06%
Weir Group (WEIR) 2,006.00p -1.91%
TP ICAP (TCAP) 490.60p -1.88%
Indivior (INDV) 389.30p -1.82%