London midday: Stocks maintain mild losses; May to trigger Article 50 next Wednesday
London stocks are maintaining mild losses to midday after another record close at the end of last week, as it emerged Prime Minister Theresa May will trigger the UK's exit from the European Union next Wednesday.
A spokesman for No 10 Downing Street said that Sir Tim Barrow, the UK's ambassador to the EU, had informed the European Council that Article 50 would be triggered on 29 March.
The FTSE 100 was down 0.2% to 7,410.12, while sterling fell back 0.1% to $1.2382, having earlier hit a three-week high against the dollar.
Oanda's Craig Erlam said the pound had come under a little bit of pressure after a spokesman for May revealed she would trigger Article 50 on 29 March.
"While the timing of the triggering of article 50 comes as no surprise given that May had previously vowed to do so before the end of March, it does show that sterling remains sensitive to Brexit related headlines, even those that are already widely known," said Erlam.
"While the drop off in the pound isn’t too severe, it was enough to take it into negative territory for the day. It also acts as a reminder that the next two years will likely continue to be volatile for the UK currency as well as the FTSE and UK Gilts, with traders still concerned about the road the country is on."
The latest survey from Rightmove showed house prices in England and Wales rose 1.3% on the month in March to £310,108, marking the biggest increase since 2007. On the year, however, growth was 2.3%, slowing down significantly from 7.6% in March 2016.
In terms of regions, the strongest performance was seen in the Midlands, with East and West Midlands prices at record highs.
Prices in the East Midlands were up 2.1% on the month and 5.7% on the year, surpassing £200,000 for the first time. Prices in the West Midlands were also up 2.1% on a monthly basis, and 4.2% on the year.
Market participants were still mulling over the latest G-20 meeting, during which finance ministers from the world's biggest economies dropped an anti-protectionist commitment after opposition from the US.
In corporate news, Vodafone nudged lower after agreeing terms of a $23bn merger between its Indian business and Idea Cellular, which was part of the Aditya Birla Group.
Facilities manager Carillion ticked a touch higher after saying it had won a £90m contract from the UK Defence Infrastructure Organisation to design and build a communications centre in Cyprus.
LondonMetric Property advanced after saying it had bought two distribution warehouses in Leeds for £12m, reflecting a blended net initial yield of 6% and a reversionary yield of 6.5%.
Hansteen Holdings rallied as it agreed to dispose of its German and Netherlands portfolios for €1.28bnm to entities owned by funds advised by affiliates of The Blackstone Group and M7 Real Estate. In addition, the company posted a dip on 2016 pre-tax profit but lifted its dividend.
Pub operator Marston's edged higher after agreeing a new bank facility to replace the £257.5m existing facility that was due to expire in November 2018.
Kaz Minerals slipped after saying it has received $166m in VAT refunds so far this year as the tax paid during the construction of the Bozshakol and Aktogay projects had started to be returned.
G4S was under pressure following a downgrade by HSBC, while ASOS was hit by a downgrade from Goldman Sachs. Hikma Pharmaceuticals was also under the cosh after Bank of America Merrill Lynch cut its stance on the stock to 'neutral'.
However, Evraz was boosted by an upgrade from Citigroup.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,659.00p 1.64%
Old Mutual (OML) 224.20p 1.31%
Direct Line Insurance Group (DLG) 338.70p 1.29%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 273.10p 1.26%
Dixons Carphone (DC.) 305.40p 1.23%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,961.00p 0.82%
CRH (CRH) 2,847.00p 0.71%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 7,120.00p 0.71%
Hammerson (HMSO) 582.50p 0.69%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 7,438.00p 0.62%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 2,128.00p -1.85%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 239.70p -1.72%
Capita (CPI) 562.50p -1.40%
Convatec Group (CTEC) 257.20p -1.38%
Smurfit Kappa Group (SKG) 2,206.00p -1.16%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 844.50p -0.94%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 192.90p -0.92%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 766.00p -0.84%
BP (BP.) 459.15p -0.83%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,283.00p -0.74%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Evraz (EVR) 232.60p 6.50%
Supergroup (SGP) 1,537.00p 3.99%
Vectura Group (VEC) 157.90p 2.87%
Hansteen Holdings (HSTN) 124.80p 2.46%
Daejan Holdings (DJAN) 6,625.00p 2.40%
John Laing Group (JLG) 275.50p 2.34%
Homeserve (HSV) 564.00p 1.90%
Unite Group (UTG) 643.50p 1.82%
Clarkson (CKN) 2,974.00p 1.74%
SSP Group (SSPG) 415.00p 1.74%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Allied Minds (ALM) 370.00p -4.49%
Hill & Smith Holdings (HILS) 1,301.00p -3.77%
Nostrum Oil & Gas (NOG) 454.00p -3.38%
IP Group (IPO) 163.00p -3.21%
Cranswick (CWK) 2,413.00p -3.09%
JRP Group (JRP) 139.70p -2.38%
G4S (GFS) 294.40p -2.16%
CMC Markets (CMCX) 134.00p -2.12%
Entertainment One Limited (ETO) 227.10p -2.03%
TalkTalk Telecom Group (TALK) 181.40p -1.95%