London open: Stocks edge lower ahead of BoE announcement; Next surges
London stocks edged lower in early trade on Thursday as investors sifted through corporate news and awaited the latest policy announcement from the Bank of England.
At 0830 BST, the FTSE 100 was down 0.2% to 7,368.92, while the pound was flat against the euro at 1.1114 and 0.1% firmer versus the dollar at 1.3221.
Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said: "A week of chewy UK data culminates in Thursday’s Bank of England meeting, with the central bank stuck between an inflation rock and a stagnant wage growth hard place.
"Wednesday’s worse than forecast average earnings index figure - which came in at just 2.1%, far lower than the 2.6% and 2.9% inflation readings in July and August respectively - likely puts the kibosh on any BoE rate hike this month. However, investors are still interested in hearing any hints as to what exactly it will take to push Mark Carney and Co to act. Along those lines, whether anyone joins Michael Saunders and Ian McCafferty on the hawkish side of the divide could be the biggest talking point coming out of the meeting, especially if that person if chief economist Andy Haldane."
The BoE interest rate decision is at 1200 BST.
On the corporate front, AstraZeneca fell after announcing an agreement with Aspen Global Incorporated - part of the Aspen Group - under which AGI will now acquire the residual rights to a portfolio of established anaesthetic medicines outside the US.
JD Sports was trading lower after agreeing to combine its existing business in Iberia with the Sport Zone business, while Thomas Cook slipped after announcing a strategic tie-up with Expedia.
Spire Healthcare tumbled as it reported a 75% drop in first-half profit after tax and revised its outlook for the year.
Provident Financial was lower after being downgraded by RBC Capital Markets to 'underperform'.
Ex-dividend stocks on Thursday included 888, BBA Aviation, Computacenter, Derwent London, Equiniti, Inmarsat. RPS Group, Restaurant Group, Sophos and South32.
On the upside, Next shares surged after the clothing retailer lifted its sales and profit targets for the full year thanks to an upturn in recent months, following a 10% drop in first-half profits.
GKN was on the front foot as it said chief executive Nigel Stein will step down at the end of this year, while finance director Adam Walker will also leave before the end of 2017.
Online gaming software group GVC Holdings rallied as it posted a jump in revenue for the first half, while Safestore advanced as it said revenue grew in the third quarter.
Wholesaler Booker edged up as it reported a 1.3% jump in second-quarter like-for like sales thanks to a solid performance from both the catering and retail sides of the business.
UDG Healthcare brightened up as it acquired US-based MicroMass Communications for up to $75.8m.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Next (NXT) 4,784.00p 8.31%
GKN (GKN) 333.90p 2.05%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 330.30p 1.79%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,218.00p 1.33%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 3,185.00p 0.92%
BP (BP.) 456.10p 0.83%
Sage Group (SGE) 707.50p 0.78%
Tesco (TSCO) 183.05p 0.77%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 7,078.00p 0.74%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 2,165.00p 0.60%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Provident Financial (PFG) 797.50p -5.73%
Experian (EXPN) 1,487.00p -3.00%
Mediclinic International (MDC) 714.50p -2.72%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 238.40p -2.69%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,559.50p -1.79%
Glencore (GLEN) 357.75p -1.61%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,388.00p -1.46%
Shire Plc (SHP) 4,000.00p -1.15%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,333.50p -1.15%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 894.00p -1.00%
FTSE 250 - Risers
GVC Holdings (GVC) 839.00p 4.94%
Rotork (ROR) 245.70p 1.61%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 183.80p 1.55%
Galliford Try (GFRD) 1,358.00p 1.34%
Auto Trader Group (AUTO) 363.20p 1.20%
Hansteen Holdings (HSTN) 137.70p 1.18%
Fidessa Group (FDSA) 2,142.00p 1.09%
Ted Baker (TED) 2,463.00p 1.07%
Halfords Group (HFD) 321.90p 0.85%
Safestore Holdings (SAFE) 412.10p 0.83%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Spire Healthcare Group (SPI) 266.30p -14.07%
Evraz (EVR) 290.50p -6.05%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 301.60p -4.56%
McCarthy & Stone (MCS) 148.70p -4.06%
Restaurant Group (RTN) 297.20p -3.63%
Kaz Minerals (KAZ) 746.50p -2.86%
Softcat (SCT) 385.00p -2.56%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 814.50p -2.16%
Inmarsat (ISAT) 632.50p -2.01%
Assura (AGR) 62.15p -1.82%