London midday: Stronger pound, miners and ex-divs weigh on FTSE
London equities were lower at noon on Thursday as a fall in the dollar combined with several blue chips going ex-dividend, as UK investors awaited fresh catalysts.
The FTSE 100 was down 0.3% at just above 7,278 as some earlier losses began to be rubbed out just after midday.
An upturn in oil prices as the session developed was benefiting shares, with West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude up 0.6% to $53.41 a barrel and 0.7% to $56.14.
In currencies, sterling had climbed 0.25% against the dollar, touching 1.25, though was down marginally against the euro at just below the 1.175 mark.
“Equity markets are under the cosh this morning from a hat trick of pressures. A USD sell-off has produced currency hindrance by way of GBP and EUR strength to hinder the internationally exposed," said analyst Mike van Dulken at Accendo Markets.
"That said, US markets closing at record highs for a fifth straight session, something they haven't done in 25 years, suggests the Trump trade is still being embraced, meaning this could be just another blip amid a longer-term uptrend."
There are no major UK data releases due, but in the US, housing starts and jobless claims are at 1330 GMT, along with the Philadelphia Fed manufacturing survey.
Craig Erlam at Oanda said the recent highs would appear to be the trigger for some profit taking, with three main US indices on course to open in the red according to pre-market futures.
"There’s also been a lot of economic data to take on board over the last couple of days but in the main, this has supported the hawkish argument with CPI inflation exceeding expectations and being above the Fed’s inflation target and retail sales also outperforming.
While there’s less data to contend with in the session apart from a few releases and no Fed officials due to appear, Erlam said he expected a lively session later.
On the corporate front, AstraZeneca led the fallers as it, BP, Shell and Imperial Brands were among those going ex-dividend.
Miners such as Anglo American and Antofagasta were lower, failing to see a weak dollar benefit base metals prices, even if oil was rallying.
Aerospace and defence group Cobham tanked after it issued a profit warning for 2016 and said it will be hard to meet expectations for this year.
Electricity generation company Drax Group was in the red after it posted its preliminary results for the 2016 calendar year, with core down to £140m from £169m, and underlying earnings less than half what they were in 2015.
Drinks bottler Coca-Cola HBC was fizzing higher as it upped its dividend 10% after a calendar year that saw flat volumes and a dip in sales due to currency but much improved profits thanks to improved costs and efficiencies.
International Consolidated Airlines and easyJet flew higher as peer Air France KLM reported strong results for 2016.
Vectura Group edged up after saying hit its royalty cap on sales of GlaxoSmithKline's Ellipta range of products in 2016, one year ahead of forecasts. The cap was equivalent to £9.0m.
Lancashire Holdings was higher after the insurer's final results came in ahead of analysts’ expectations, while drug maker Shire gained ground ahead of its full-year numbers later in the day.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 1,881.00p 3.18%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 512.50p 1.79%
Capita (CPI) 515.00p 1.48%
BT Group (BT.A) 312.70p 0.97%
Experian (EXPN) 1,592.00p 0.95%
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) 1,609.50p 0.94%
Mediclinic International (MDC) 832.00p 0.91%
Smurfit Kappa Group (SKG) 2,177.00p 0.83%
Dixons Carphone (DC.) 307.30p 0.82%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,845.00p 0.82%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
AstraZeneca (AZN) 4,504.50p -3.83%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,348.00p -3.37%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 845.00p -2.42%
Imperial Brands (IMB) 3,621.50p -2.12%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 3,064.00p -1.61%
BP (BP.) 450.35p -1.57%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 2,136.50p -1.57%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 2,240.50p -1.49%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 807.90p -1.22%
Glencore (GLEN) 322.85p -1.13%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Lancashire Holdings Limited (LRE) 741.50p 8.96%
OneSavings Bank (OSB) 377.30p 2.72%
Shawbrook Group (SHAW) 266.40p 2.46%
AO World (AO.) 158.40p 2.26%
Vectura Group (VEC) 144.50p 2.05%
Inmarsat (ISAT) 655.00p 1.79%
Ashmore Group (ASHM) 359.50p 1.75%
Restaurant Group (RTN) 315.20p 1.68%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 299.90p 1.08%
Redrow (RDW) 492.80p 1.07%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Cobham (COB) 115.60p -14.62%
Drax Group (DRX) 357.70p -5.62%
Brewin Dolphin Holdings (BRW) 306.80p -3.06%
The Renewables Infrastructure Group Limited (TRIG) 106.20p -2.75%
CYBG (CYBG) 279.20p -2.51%
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (MLC) 431.70p -2.42%
SIG (SHI) 110.20p -2.30%
BGEO Group (BGEO) 3,085.00p -2.28%
Meggitt (MGGT) 425.20p -2.25%
International Personal Finance (IPF) 186.70p -2.15%