London open: Stocks edge higher as pound slips; M&S, SSE in the black
London stocks edged higher in early trade on Wednesday, helped along by a weaker pound and some well-received releases from the likes of Marks & Spencer and SSE.
At 0830 GMT, the FTSE 100 was up 0.3% to 7,533.61, while the pound was down 0.4% against the euro at 1.1316 and off 0.3% versus the dollar at 1.3133.
Data released earlier showed China’s imports rose 17.2% in October, while exports were up 6.9%, versus consensus expectations for a 16% jump and a 7.2% gain, respectively.
CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said: “China is making a concerted effort to move towards a more service focused economy. That being said, their demand for minerals is still a major driver of commodity prices and mining companies.”
In UK corporate news, Marks & Spencer rose after it reported stronger first-half profits than expected and outlined some material shifts in the pace and direction of its five-year transformation plan, although chief finance officer Helen Weir has stepped down.
Energy generation and supply company SSE was in the black as it confirmed plans to merge its domestic business in the UK with Npower to form a new energy company. Strong gains came despite the group reporting a 14% drop in adjusted pre-tax profits for the six months to September.
Workspace advanced as it posted a jump in interim pre-tax profit and net rental income amid good customer demand.
Tullow Oil gushed 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 was trading higher 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.
Going the other way, Persimmon was in the red despite saying that demand for its properties remained strong in the third quarter as the housebuilder benefited from the government's Help to Buy programme.
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.
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
SSE (SSE) 1,451.00p 2.91%
Imperial Brands (IMB) 3,170.00p 2.26%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,834.00p 1.72%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 2,002.00p 1.57%
CRH (CRH) 2,728.00p 1.11%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 4,974.50p 0.86%
Unilever (ULVR) 4,255.00p 0.82%
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 2,658.00p 0.76%
Old Mutual (OML) 191.40p 0.74%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,760.50p 0.72%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Associated British Foods (ABF) 3,151.00p -2.08%
NMC Health (NMC) 3,145.00p -1.69%
Persimmon (PSN) 2,836.00p -1.32%
G4S (GFS) 263.80p -1.01%
Direct Line Insurance Group (DLG) 352.40p -0.98%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) 3,747.00p -0.69%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 274.50p -0.69%
Barclays (BARC) 180.15p -0.66%
Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) 422.50p -0.66%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 981.50p -0.66%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Indivior (INDV) 403.00p 5.83%
Sophos Group (SOPH) 645.00p 4.96%
OneSavings Bank (OSB) 416.90p 4.88%
esure Group (ESUR) 268.70p 4.51%
Workspace Group (WKP) 921.50p 1.71%
Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group (JLT) 1,325.00p 1.69%
Wetherspoon (J.D.) (JDW) 1,264.00p 1.61%
Aveva Group (AVV) 2,598.00p 1.48%
Nostrum Oil & Gas (NOG) 390.50p 1.48%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 202.70p 1.45%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Wizz Air Holdings (WIZZ) 3,050.00p -8.55%
Rank Group (RNK) 228.90p -2.43%
Dignity (DTY) 2,396.00p -2.20%
Fidessa Group (FDSA) 2,228.00p -1.98%
FDM Group (Holdings) (FDM) 955.00p -1.90%
St. Modwen Properties (SMP) 388.00p -1.25%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 257.10p -1.12%
William Hill (WMH) 269.10p -1.10%
Electra Private Equity (ELTA) 960.00p -1.08%
Redefine International (RDI) 38.09p -1.06%