London midday: Stocks rise as investors cheer Prudential spin-off; US retail sales eyed
London stocks were adding to their early gains by midday on Wednesday, recovering somewhat from losses in the previous session as a strong performance from miners and Prudential lent a hand.
The FTSE 100 was up 0.3% to 7,159.98, while the pound was up 0.2% against the euro at 1.1288 and 0.1% firmer versus the dollar at 1.3977.
Stocks ended lower the day before after President Donald Trump sacked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, a move that came just days after chief economic adviser Gary Cohn’s departure, sparking concerns that he has lost two key figures when it comes to economic and foreign policy.
David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets, said: "Equities are bouncing back after the political uncertainty in the US spooked some traders yesterday. The mood is cautiously optimistic, with some traders still tetchy about the departure of Rex Tillerson as US secretary of state, and the possible trade war that could be waged.
"The London market is being helped along by mining companies, on the back of respectable industrial production figures from China."
Following the release of in-line inflation figures on Tuesday, investors will be eyeing retail sales figures from across the pond at 1230 GMT, which are due alongside the producer price index.
In corporate news, life insurer Prudential was the standout gainer as it announced plans to split off its UK and Europe business and posted a rise in annual profit driven by surging sales at its Asian business.
London's heavyweight mining sector rallied, with Anglo American, Antofagasta and BHP Billiton higher after better-than-expected industrial production out of China lifted metals prices, with upgrades at Goldman Sachs helping too.
Polymetal International edged up after agreeing to sell its 50% stake in the Dolinnoye gold property in Kazakhstan to local miner Altynalmas.
Funeral and funeral-related services provider Dignity was rallying from recent lows on the back of its full-year numbers, as Panmure Gordon said it there could be "substantial" consensus upgrades on the horizon.
Hikma Pharmaceuticals was also bouncing back after its full-year adjusted operating profit and earnings beat expectations, while infrastructure group Balfour Beatty was on the front foot after reporting a big rise in annual profit.
On the downside, Morrisons fell even as it announced a special dividend on top of the supermarket group's annual payout after another year of sales and profits growth.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Prudential (PRU) 1,925.00p 5.45%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 938.00p 2.56%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,772.10p 2.34%
CRH (CRH) 2,487.00p 2.09%
Glencore (GLEN) 384.10p 1.96%
Next (NXT) 4,897.00p 1.94%
GKN (GKN) 436.80p 1.58%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,456.60p 1.39%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,764.50p 1.32%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 259.90p 1.25%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 218.10p -3.62%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 760.20p -2.16%
Kingfisher (KGF) 347.31p -1.92%
Halma (HLMA) 1,184.00p -1.33%
Mediclinic International (MDC) 601.20p -1.31%
Severn Trent (SVT) 1,776.00p -1.20%
Croda International (CRDA) 4,541.00p -0.85%
Barclays (BARC) 208.05p -0.79%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,218.00p -0.77%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 239.80p -0.75%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Dignity (DTY) 975.50p 14.36%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 935.80p 7.27%
Galliford Try (GFRD) 1,027.00p 6.37%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 202.80p 4.75%
Inmarsat (ISAT) 402.10p 3.98%
Balfour Beatty (BBY) 286.00p 3.29%
SIG (SHI) 140.20p 3.09%
Kaz Minerals (KAZ) 930.80p 2.94%
John Laing Infrastructure Fund Ltd (JLIF) 114.80p 2.68%
Ascential (ASCL) 414.00p 2.48%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Dairy Crest Group (DCG) 504.00p -8.11%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 571.64p -4.25%
Sirius Minerals (SXX) 27.82p -3.27%
Saga (SAGA) 112.80p -3.26%
Just Group (JUST) 138.40p -3.08%
BCA Marketplace (BCA) 155.80p -2.99%
Alfa Financial Software Holdings (ALFA) 357.00p -2.72%
Sophos Group (SOPH) 512.08p -1.90%
Euromoney Institutional Investor (ERM) 1,296.00p -1.82%
McCarthy & Stone (MCS) 144.50p -1.70%