London midday: Stocks nudge lower as housebuilders weigh
London stocks had turned a little lower by midday on Wednesday amid weakness in the housebuilding sector following a trading statement from Persimmon.
The FTSE 100 was down 0.1% to 7,506.30, while the pound was down 0.4% against the euro at 1.1317 and off 0.3% versus the dollar at 1.3125.
IG analyst Joshua Mahony said sentiment was also being hit by rising fears over a potential no-deal Brexit, just 16-months away from the UK’s exit from the EU.
"A meeting between the US secretary of commerce and a number of international banks with a large UK footprint has led to an insistence that jobs will move abroad en mass in the near future given the current pace of progress," he said.
"With negotiations still faltering at the first hurdle, it is becoming increasingly likely that this government will lead us to a cliff edge, providing an increasingly bearish bias for the pound as we move forward in the absence of a breakthrough in negotiations."
In UK corporate news, Persimmon was in the red, dragging down peers Barratt Developments and Taylor Wimpey, after the housebuilder issued a statement that analysts said was light on detail, with no mention of sales rates, pricing or margins.
Marks & Spencer reversed initial gains to trade lower despite reporting stronger first-half profits than expected, as it announced a slowing of its food store expansion plan and the departure of chief financial officer Helen Weir.
Energy generation and supply company SSE also fell into the red as it reported a 14% drop in adjusted pre-tax profits for the six months to September and confirmed plans to merge its domestic business in the UK with Npower to form a new energy company.
Low-cost Hungarian airline Wizz Air flew lower despite lifting its profit outlook following record first-half results, with “robust” trading across all of the group’s markets.
On the upside, Workspace advanced as it posted a jump in interim pre-tax profit and net rental income amid good customer demand.
Tullow Oil nudged higher after it upped its full-year production guidance, while cyber security group Sophos gained ground as it raised its forecasts for new business.
Wetherspoon edged up after it said like-for-like sales in the first 13 weeks of the financial year were up 6.1%, while Esure rallied as it bumped up its guidance for the full year following a record third quarter thanks to a strong performance in the motor division.
OneSavings Bank was on the front foot as it reported 17% growth in its loan book for the first nine months of the year, driven primarily by its buy-to-let activities, and upgraded its loan book growth forecast.
In broker note action, Mondi was boosted by an upgrade to ‘overweight’ from ‘equalweight’ by Morgan Stanley, while Indivior was lifted by an upgrade to ‘buy’ at Citi. But AB Foods was hit as Goldman Sachs cut its stance on the Primark owner to ‘neutral’ from ‘buy’.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Imperial Brands (IMB) 3,180.00p 2.58%
Mediclinic International (MDC) 607.00p 2.19%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,841.00p 2.11%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,311.00p 1.47%
CRH (CRH) 2,736.00p 1.41%
ITV (ITV) 160.50p 1.39%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,763.00p 0.79%
Land Securities Group (LAND) 955.50p 0.68%
Centrica (CNA) 170.00p 0.65%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 6,965.00p 0.65%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Persimmon (PSN) 2,763.00p -3.86%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,268.00p -2.84%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 196.50p -2.29%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 3,146.00p -2.24%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 637.00p -2.23%
NMC Health (NMC) 3,128.00p -2.22%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 599.00p -1.88%
SSE (SSE) 1,386.00p -1.70%
G4S (GFS) 262.30p -1.58%
BAE Systems (BA.) 571.00p -1.38%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Sophos Group (SOPH) 644.50p 4.88%
OneSavings Bank (OSB) 413.00p 3.90%
Workspace Group (WKP) 935.00p 3.20%
esure Group (ESUR) 264.00p 2.68%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 229.50p 2.09%
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (MLC) 621.50p 1.89%
Kaz Minerals (KAZ) 820.00p 1.80%
GCP Infrastructure Investments Ltd (GCP) 126.20p 1.77%
Auto Trader Group (AUTO) 348.50p 1.75%
Indivior (INDV) 387.00p 1.63%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Wizz Air Holdings (WIZZ) 3,078.00p -7.71%
Ultra Electronics Holdings (ULE) 1,729.00p -3.46%
Bovis Homes Group (BVS) 1,157.00p -3.18%
Crest Nicholson Holdings (CRST) 543.00p -2.51%
Redrow (RDW) 632.50p -2.39%
Cobham (COB) 132.90p -2.14%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 265.50p -2.07%
Redefine International (RDI) 37.72p -2.03%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 254.80p -2.00%
Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) 260.00p -1.89%