London midday: Stocks maintain gains as pound slips ahead of Carney speech
London stocks were holding on to gains by midday as the pound lost ground ahead of a speech by Bank of England governor Mark Carney.
The FTSE 100 was up 0.4% to 7,241.65. Meanwhile, the pound was down 0.4% against the dollar to 1.3541 and 0.5% weaker versus the euro at 1.1324 as investors eyed a speech by Carney at an IMF lecture in Washington at 1600 BST. Traders will be particularly keen to hear what he has to say after hawkish comments from BoE policymakers last week pushed the pound to its best levels since the Brexit vote.
IG's chief market analyst, Chris Beauchamp, said: "While sterling’s weakness is giving it [the FTSE] some much-needed respite, the gains could well prove fleeting if Mark Carney delivers further remarks this afternoon that follow up on last week’s hawkish turn.
"With US markets back at record highs, and eurozone stocks unstoppable at present, it made sense for bargain hunters to turn to the FTSE 100, even with a stronger pound. Having seen such heavy losses at the end of last week there were bound to be plenty of candidates for dip buying on the index, and with UK stocks still broadly out of favour among institutions this rally could easily have legs, especially with Q4’s seasonality just weeks away. However, it will all depend on Mark Carney today."
On the corporate front, GKN was the standout gainer, boosted by an upgrade to 'neutral' at Exane BNP Paribas and as the departure of its chief executive and finance director and the proposed breakup of Autoliv revived the debate about whether it might also demerge.
BAE Systems was among the high risers after Qatar's defence minister signed a letter of intent to buy 24 Typhoon jets from the company.
Dairy Crest was in the black after saying cheese sales volumes and values in the six months to September are ahead of last year, with profit also increased, while Esure was also trading higher following press reports that founder Sir Peter Wood is planning to sell his controlling stake in the insurer.
On the downside, insurer Hiscox was in the red after saying it expects to see claims of around $150m as a result of Hurricane Harvey. It said this was within the group's modelled range for an event of this nature and added that reinsurance protections remain "substantially intact".
Petra Diamonds shares tumbled after it reported a 4% drop in full-year adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation and warned that restriction on exports from Tanzania after the seizure of some of its diamonds could dent its lending facilities.
Investors were digesting the latest figures from Rightmove, which showed average UK asking prices fell in September, dragged lower by a big drop in the capital.
The average UK asking price fell by 1.2% on the month in September to £310,000 following a 0.9% decline in August, with asking prices in the capital down 2.9%. This marked the first monthly fall at this time of year since 2013.
Rightmove said that excluding London, the decline would have been a much smaller 0.5%. It added that London's higher-end boroughs were seeing the biggest drops, with falls in five out of the six most expensive.
FTSE 100 - Risers
GKN (GKN) 349.60p 3.19%
BAE Systems (BA.) 613.50p 2.94%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 2,901.00p 2.33%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 953.00p 2.31%
Experian (EXPN) 1,475.00p 2.01%
Smiths Group (SMIN) 1,588.00p 1.53%
BT Group (BT.A) 288.50p 1.44%
St James's Place (STJ) 1,123.00p 1.35%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,414.00p 1.29%
Croda International (CRDA) 3,722.00p 1.28%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Provident Financial (PFG) 774.00p -2.52%
Imperial Brands (IMB) 3,271.00p -1.70%
Next (NXT) 4,981.00p -1.27%
Mediclinic International (MDC) 699.50p -1.06%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 7,465.00p -1.06%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 4,693.50p -1.00%
Paddy Power Betfair (PPB) 7,172.50p -1.00%
WPP (WPP) 1,355.00p -0.81%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,430.00p -0.76%
Royal Mail (RMG) 374.20p -0.69%
FTSE 250 - Risers
esure Group (ESUR) 280.00p 6.63%
Nostrum Oil & Gas (NOG) 389.20p 4.57%
CLS Holdings (CLI) 208.80p 3.42%
FirstGroup (FGP) 116.50p 2.82%
Rotork (ROR) 248.00p 2.61%
Meggitt (MGGT) 502.00p 2.24%
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (MLC) 463.20p 2.05%
Daejan Holdings (DJAN) 5,990.00p 2.04%
Weir Group (WEIR) 1,776.00p 2.01%
Intermediate Capital Group (ICP) 865.00p 2.00%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Petra Diamonds Ltd.(DI) (PDL) 78.00p -7.14%
Sophos Group (SOPH) 558.50p -3.12%
Rank Group (RNK) 227.80p -3.06%
Hiscox Limited (DI) (HSX) 1,222.00p -2.32%
Redrow (RDW) 537.50p -2.01%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,180.00p -1.83%
Acacia Mining (ACA) 177.40p -1.72%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 241.30p -1.59%
Vectura Group (VEC) 102.20p -1.54%
Saga (SAGA) 196.70p -1.50%