London open: Stocks edge higher ahead of unemployment, earnings data
London stocks edged higher in early trade on Wednesday as investors eyed the release of the latest UK wages and unemployment data.
At 0840 BST, the FTSE 100 was up 0.2% to 7,532.99, while the pound was down 0.1% against the euro and the dollar at 1.1204 and 1.3177, respectively.
The ILO unemployment rate is due at 0930 BST, along with average earnings and the claimant count rate.
The headline unemployment rate is expected to remain at 4.3%, while the more timely claimant count change reading is expected to jump from -2.8k to 1.3k month-on-month.
More attention will be focused on wages as only a powerful surprise is felt likely to knock the Bank of England off course from raising interest rates next month.
Average earnings index for the 3 months to August are forecast to come in at the same 2.1% as they did a month earlier, increasing the squeeze on real wages with August’s inflation reading at 2.9% and since rising to 3.0% in September’s.
Said Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell: “The Bank of England has proven reticent to raise rates with wage growth so stagnant, fearing what a further squeeze on household income would do to the UK’s consumer spending-reliant economy. Such earnings index figures as we are expecting to get this morning, then, are a blow to sterling’s rate hike hopes.”
In corporate news, Rio Tinto nudged a touch higher despite being slapping with a £27.4m fine by the City watchdog for failings in its financial reporting process relating to the $3.7bn purchase of mining assets in Mozambique, an issue that US regulators are alleging amounts to corporate fraud.
British Airways and Iberia parent International Consolidated Airlines Group flew higher as Credit Suisse bumped up its target price on the stock, while FTSE 250 wealth manager Rathbone Brothers advanced as it reported a jump in assets in the third quarter as inflows grew.
BHP Billiton edged up despite posting a drop in quarterly iron ore output, as it still expects to meet full-year production targets.
IT services group Softcat rallied after lifting its dividend as it reported a jump in annual profit and revenue, while Spectris was a touch firmer after completing the acquisition of privately-held US company Omnicon for an initial consideration of $29m.
Gold miner Hochschild shone after saying it achieved record production levels in the third quarter.
On the downside, Reckitt Benckiser was in the red after downgrading its full year guidance as it came through a "soft" third quarter amid continued challenges in its personal health products market.
AstraZeneca ticked down even as it said that it and Merck & Co have been granted priority review by the US Food and Drug Administration for a supplemental new drug application for the use of Lynparza (olaparib) tablets in patients with metastatic breast cancer who have been previously treated with chemotherapy.
FTSE 100 - Risers
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 653.00p 2.75%
Berkeley Group Holdings (The) (BKG) 3,877.00p 1.17%
G4S (GFS) 278.50p 1.02%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,899.00p 1.01%
Smurfit Kappa Group (SKG) 2,170.00p 0.93%
ITV (ITV) 174.80p 0.75%
Centrica (CNA) 172.40p 0.70%
DCC (DCC) 7,225.00p 0.70%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,325.00p 0.68%
National Grid (NG.) 931.30p 0.68%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Convatec Group (CTEC) 209.60p -1.60%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 6,937.00p -1.39%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 245.00p -1.09%
Mediclinic International (MDC) 639.50p -0.93%
Intertek Group (ITRK) 5,095.00p -0.59%
Shire Plc (SHP) 3,820.00p -0.49%
CRH (CRH) 2,711.00p -0.48%
Pearson (PSON) 665.00p -0.30%
Merlin Entertainments (MERL) 376.90p -0.29%
GKN (GKN) 305.20p -0.26%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Softcat (SCT) 453.00p 3.14%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 187.10p 2.46%
Euromoney Institutional Investor (ERM) 1,162.00p 2.02%
IP Group (IPO) 142.40p 1.71%
BTG (BTG) 739.00p 1.65%
Ashmore Group (ASHM) 383.20p 1.62%
Capital & Counties Properties (CAPC) 267.00p 1.60%
Big Yellow Group (BYG) 810.00p 1.50%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 224.50p 1.40%
Computacenter (CCC) 1,019.00p 1.39%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
PZ Cussons (PZC) 315.60p -2.11%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,162.00p -1.69%
Provident Financial (PFG) 890.00p -1.66%
Fidelity European Values (FEV) 225.00p -1.32%
P2P Global Investments (P2P) 775.00p -0.96%
GCP Infrastructure Investments Ltd (GCP) 125.10p -0.95%
Syncona Limited NPV (SYNC) 190.00p -0.78%
Monks Inv Trust (MNKS) 731.50p -0.75%
Inmarsat (ISAT) 603.50p -0.74%
IMI (IMI) 1,213.00p -0.74%