London midday: Stocks turn up as investors mull M&A news
London stocks managed to reverse earlier losses to trade just a touch higher by midday on Wednesday as the pound remained under pressure due to the breakdown of Brexit talks, with M&A news providing a welcome distraction.
The FTSE 100 was up 0.1% to 7,331.84, while the pound was down 0.5% versus the dollar at 1.3372 and 0.4% weaker against the euro at 1.1319.
CMC Markets analyst David Madden said the drop in stock markets could be down to profit-taking into the year end.
"2017 has been a good year for global equities, and it appears that traders are winding down their positions as we approach the end of the year. The FTSE 100 is holding up better than its Continental counterparts due to the weakness in sterling."
Brexit was in focus, not unsurprisingly, as David Davis told MPs that the government has not carried out an impact assessment on the UK economy of leaving the EU.
"There's no sort of systematic impact assessment," Mr Davis told parliament’s Brexit committee, adding that a judgement had been made "on qualitative things, but not a quantitative one".
In corporate news, shopping centre owner Hammerson retreated after saying it has agreed to buy FTSE 350 rival Intu Properties in a £3.4bn all-share deal that will create a £21bn portfolio across Europe. Intu surged nearly 20%.
Medical technology business Smith & Nephew slipped after completing the acquisition of Rotation Medical Inc, which develops novel tissue regeneration technology for shoulder rotator cuff repair, for $125m, with a further $85m due over the next five years contingent on financial performance.
GlaxoSmithKline was a little weaker after it released new data from a Phase III clinical study which it said supports the safety and efficacy of Shingrix in preventing shingles when given to adults 18 years and above shortly after undergoing autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplant.
Saga shares tumbled after the over-50s specialist warned that profits in the current financial year would grow more slowly than expected and that 2018 profit would be down 5% on this year.
Shaftesbury ticked up as it announced plans for a placing of up to 27.86m new ordinary shares at 952p each, representing around 9.98% of the company and raising gross proceeds of up to £265m to fund a number of acquisitions.
Marine engineering services group James Fisher edged up after buying Lancashire-based EDS, which provides a complete range of high voltage engineering services to the renewables industry, for up to £14.6m.
Stagecoach rallied after it kept its 2018 earnings forecast unchanged despite reporting a drop in bus revenue and passenger volumes for the first half.
EasyJet flew higher after the budget carrier reported an 8.1% jump in passenger numbers in November and announced new domestic German routes. It was also boosted by upgrades from JPMorgan and Investec.
Derwent London and Great Portland were up following upgrades by Credit Suisse, along with Land Securities. Recruiters Hays and Pagegroup were hit by downgrades from Deutsche Bank.
FTSE 100 - Risers
British Land Company (BLND) 647.34p 1.46%
Smurfit Kappa Group (SKG) 2,362.00p 1.37%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 4,910.00p 1.24%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,443.00p 1.19%
Imperial Brands (IMB) 3,069.00p 1.12%
Old Mutual (OML) 199.50p 0.86%
Land Securities Group (LAND) 944.00p 0.80%
Tesco (TSCO) 202.45p 0.72%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 6,463.00p 0.69%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 816.00p 0.68%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 2,407.00p -2.67%
Hammerson (HMSO) 525.00p -1.78%
Worldpay Group (WPG) 414.60p -1.52%
Sage Group (SGE) 754.00p -1.50%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 261.03p -1.13%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 2,326.00p -1.06%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 2,970.65p -0.98%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,880.00p -0.95%
Next (NXT) 4,396.00p -0.95%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 596.00p -0.91%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Intu Properties (INTU) 238.10p 19.65%
Stagecoach Group (SGC) 184.80p 4.76%
Countryside Properties (CSP) 340.20p 2.50%
Capita (CPI) 478.30p 1.74%
Equiniti Group (EQN) 294.90p 1.65%
Fisher (James) & Sons (FSJ) 1,537.00p 1.65%
Victrex plc (VCT) 2,430.00p 1.63%
Greggs (GRG) 1,335.00p 1.52%
Dixons Carphone (DC.) 163.70p 1.43%
WH Smith (SMWH) 2,140.00p 1.33%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Saga (SAGA) 135.80p -25.10%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 934.50p -4.55%
Brown (N.) Group (BWNG) 263.70p -4.49%
Pagegroup (PAGE) 442.60p -4.36%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 313.74p -3.70%
Hays (HAS) 176.10p -3.45%
Spire Healthcare Group (SPI) 238.18p -3.02%
Polar Capital Technology Trust (PCT) 1,082.60p -2.82%
Domino's Pizza Group (DOM) 317.40p -2.79%
Cineworld Group (CINE) 528.78p -2.71%