London midday: Stocks extend losses as sterling surges
London stocks had fallen further by midday as the pound surged against both the euro and the dollar, recovering from last week’s losses.
The FTSE 100 was down 0.3% to 7,501.76, while the pound was up 0.8% against the euro to 1.1223 and 0.9% higher versus the dollar 1.3180.
Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said a lack of real news “seemed to be sterling’s best friend”, allowing the currency to settle last week’s nerves.
“The ongoing situation surrounding Theresa May, Boris Johnson and the rest of the Conservative party remains the dominant driver of trading. The latest twist was a leaked message from the Foreign Secretary to the Tory MPs’ WhatsApp group, stating he was ‘sick to the back teeth’ of his ‘so-called friends and allies’ briefing papers against the Prime Minister.
“While this intervention perhaps further undermines May by placing Johnson in the role of disciplinarian, for now it takes a bit more steam out of this (umpteenth) plot to get rid of the PM, in the process further reassuring the pound. Sterling’s now up 0.6% against both the dollar and the euro, an improvement on the 0.4% rebound seen in the early hours of trading.”
The top-flight index tends to take a hit when the pound gains as around 70% of its constituents derive most of their earnings from abroad.
In UK corporate news, Lancashire Holdings advanced as it estimated net losses announced hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, and the two recent earthquake loss events in Mexico would be in a range of $106m to $212m after anticipated recoveries from its outwards reinsurance programme, and the impact of outwards and inwards reinstatement premiums.
Centamin shone after reporting record third-quarter gold production at its Sukari mine in Egypt.
Millennium & Copthorne surged after City Developments, which is part of Singaporean billionaire Kwek Leng Beng’s Hong Leong Group, offered to buy the remaining shares in the company in a deal that values it around £1.8bn.
Going the other way, AstraZeneca ticked lower despite its osimertinib treatment for patients advanced metastatic non-small cell lung cancer was given 'breakthrough therapy designation' for a potential upgrade to first-line treatment by the US drug regulator.
Medical technology business Smith & Nephew was in the red after announcing that Olivier Bohuon will retire by the end of 2018 after seven years as chief executive officer.
Wood Group slipped as it started trading as an enlarged company after completing its acquisition of Amec Foster Wheeler, making assuring noises about integration and expected cost savings.
BT and TalkTalk were under the cosh after Citigroup downgraded its rating on both stocks, while Centrica took a hit after Goldman Sachs cut its earnings per share estimates for the utility.
However, Telecom Plus was lifted by an upgrade to ‘outperform’ at RBC Capital Markets.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,875.00p 1.30%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 6,911.00p 1.13%
NMC Health (NMC) 2,866.00p 1.09%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 7,510.00p 1.01%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,436.00p 0.84%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 4,815.00p 0.78%
Severn Trent (SVT) 2,170.00p 0.65%
ITV (ITV) 178.70p 0.56%
Land Securities Group (LAND) 985.00p 0.51%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 2,563.00p 0.51%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
easyJet (EZJ) 1,239.00p -1.98%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,455.50p -1.76%
Paddy Power Betfair (PPB) 7,570.00p -1.50%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 1,375.00p -1.22%
Smurfit Kappa Group (SKG) 2,308.00p -1.20%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 608.00p -1.06%
BT Group (BT.A) 280.15p -1.04%
G4S (GFS) 278.30p -1.03%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,675.50p -0.94%
Tesco (TSCO) 186.70p -0.90%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (MLC) 552.50p 21.43%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 231.40p 5.47%
Ted Baker (TED) 2,851.00p 4.93%
Acacia Mining (ACA) 191.20p 3.80%
Man Group (EMG) 175.80p 2.87%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 148.70p 2.20%
Telecom Plus (TEP) 1,130.00p 2.14%
Card Factory (CARD) 315.70p 1.71%
CLS Holdings (CLI) 214.00p 1.66%
Spire Healthcare Group (SPI) 225.10p 1.58%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Alfa Financial Software Holdings (ALFA) 500.00p -2.91%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 288.80p -2.46%
Diploma (DPLM) 1,076.00p -2.18%
Auto Trader Group (AUTO) 368.40p -1.94%
Nostrum Oil & Gas (NOG) 403.60p -1.93%
Softcat (SCT) 413.30p -1.88%
Senior (SNR) 284.30p -1.69%
P2P Global Investments (P2P) 783.50p -1.69%
Galliford Try (GFRD) 1,364.00p -1.66%
Brewin Dolphin Holdings (BRW) 347.00p -1.64%