London midday: FTSE drops into the red as AB Foods, G4S, Sky weigh
London stocks had nudged lower by midday, led lower by the likes of G4S and AB Foods.
The FTSE 100 was down 0.2% to 7,545.63, while the pound was down 0.3% versus the dollar at 1.3136 and up 0.1% against the euro at 1.1353.
The latest survey from Halifax showed UK house prices rose more than expected in October, making the third monthly rise in a row.
House prices rose 0.3% on the preceding month, which was better than the 0.2% consensus estimate but down from the previous month's 0.8% increase.
For the three months to October, houses prices were 4.5% higher than the same period last year, as expected, an improvement from the 4.0% year-on-year increase announced a month earlier. The average house price is now £225,826.
House prices in the three months to October were 2.3% higher than in the previous quarter, the fastest quarterly increase since January, pointed out Russell Galley, managing director of Halifax Community Bank.
“The fact that the supply of new homes and existing properties available for sale remains low, combined with historically low mortgage rates and a high employment rate, continues to support house prices and is likely to do so over the coming months," he said.”
In corporate news, Primark owner Associated British Foods was in the red despite reporting full-year results ahead of market forecasts after a "highly successful" year, with analysts pointing out that the dividend was a touch light. In addition, comments about the adverse impact of weakened sterling on next year’s first half margin also weighed.
Disappointed figures from the British Retail Consortium piled more pressure on the broader retail sector, after they showed retailers endured a "meagre month" of sales in October, with non-food retailers having the worst sales for at least six years.
Retail sales decreased by 1.0% in October a like-for-like basis versus a strong month last year. Meanwhile, total sales, including the addition of new shops, rose 0.2% in October, which is the lowest growth since May. Kingfisher led a troupe of retail stocks lower, with Next and Marks & Spencer also down.
Security services firm G4S slumped after it said trading in the nine months to the end of September was in line with expectations, but scaled back its guidance for full-year organic revenue growth.
Broadcaster Sky was under the cosh following reports that Disney is in talks with 21st Century Fox over the sale of a large part of its operations, including its share of Sky.
Direct Line ticked lower after a mixed update for the first nine months of the year, in which it warned that the impairment charge in 2017 could exceed that incurred last year.
On the upside, Imperial Brands gained ground as it reported a rise in full-year profit and revenue, and a ninth year 10% dividend growth. Rival British American Tobacco was sent lower.
With oil testing new two year highs amid renewed tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, BP and Shell were a positive influence on the blue chip index.
Insurer Hiscox was on the front foot after posting a jump in gross written premiums for the first nine months of the year and revising down its estimates for claims related to recent hurricanes.
International sales, marketing and support services group DCC rallied after saying it has reached agreement with US-based NGL Energy Partners to acquire its ‘Retail West’ LPG division, Hicksgas, based on an enterprise value of $200m (£152m).
In broker note action, William Hill was boosted by a double upgrade to ‘buy’ at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, while Admiral was up after an upgrade to ‘add’ at Peel Hunt.
Genus was hit by an initiation at ‘hold’ by Kepler Cheuvreux and Lonmin fell after Peel Hunt cut the stock to ‘reduce’.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Imperial Brands (IMB) 3,165.00p 2.59%
BP (BP.) 527.30p 1.19%
DCC (DCC) 7,370.00p 1.10%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,479.00p 1.02%
ITV (ITV) 158.80p 0.83%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 996.00p 0.71%
Convatec Group (CTEC) 190.20p 0.69%
Intertek Group (ITRK) 5,395.00p 0.65%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,517.50p 0.63%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,585.00p 0.57%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
G4S (GFS) 260.80p -6.72%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 3,214.00p -3.86%
Kingfisher (KGF) 309.50p -2.24%
WPP (WPP) 1,295.00p -1.82%
Direct Line Insurance Group (DLG) 360.50p -1.77%
Hammerson (HMSO) 522.50p -1.42%
BT Group (BT.A) 248.75p -1.41%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 3,421.00p -1.33%
CRH (CRH) 2,732.00p -1.16%
Sky (SKY) 929.00p -1.12%
FTSE 250 - Risers
William Hill (WMH) 271.10p 3.95%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 200.80p 3.51%
Softcat (SCT) 540.00p 3.45%
Ladbrokes Coral Group (LCL) 137.50p 2.61%
FDM Group (Holdings) (FDM) 962.00p 2.01%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 453.70p 1.77%
Clarkson (CKN) 2,990.00p 1.74%
Hunting (HTG) 538.00p 1.70%
SIG (SHI) 177.70p 1.54%
Daejan Holdings (DJAN) 6,190.00p 1.48%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Elementis (ELM) 280.40p -3.41%
BGEO Group (BGEO) 3,580.00p -3.16%
Dixons Carphone (DC.) 156.80p -2.79%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,053.00p -2.50%
Cineworld Group (CINE) 662.50p -2.36%
Capital & Counties Properties (CAPC) 260.50p -2.25%
Intu Properties (INTU) 211.60p -2.22%
Drax Group (DRX) 275.20p -2.17%
Inmarsat (ISAT) 576.00p -2.12%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 230.80p -2.04%