London open: Stocks edge lower on N Korea concerns as investors eye May speech
London stocks edged lower in early trade on Friday after North Korea reportedly threatened to test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific and as investors awaited a key speech by Prime Minister Theresa May.
At 0830 BST, the FTSE 100 was down 0.2% to 7,252.13, while the pound was flat against the dollar at 1.3579 and 0.3% lower versus the euro at 1.1342.
Speaking at a United Nations meeting in New York late on Thursday, North Korea's foreign minister Ri Yong Ho reportedly said the country could consider a nuclear test of "unprecedented scale".
Investors were also looking ahead to a speech by Theresa May in Florence at around 1415 BST, during which she is set to outline her plans for Brexit. May is expected to say she wants a two-year transition deal and is also likely to reference the fact that Britain needs to pay its dues, amid reports of a €20bn divorce payment contingent on access to the single market and some form of customs union.
Mike van Dulken at Accendo Markets said: "There have been no leaks as yet, but she is widely expected to address three issues - citizens’ rights, monies owed and a transition period - and bid farewell to the ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ mantra.
"She will pledge stronger legal protection for the existing 3m EU citizens in the UK after March 2019, something that has resulted in much uncertainty. She is unlikely to put a number on settling the fabled ‘divorce bill’, but is expected to ensure no black hole in the EU budget during a two-year Brexit transition - the UK’s first official request for such a period."
In corporate news, Smiths Group was under the cosh after it posted a small decline in full year underlying revenue but 11% growth on a reported basis thanks to the weak pound and said its strategic progress set it up to return to growth next year.
Shares in oil rig builder Lamprell tanked as it posted a drop in first-half revenue and warned that revenue for 2018 would be 10% lower on the year.
In terms of sectors, heavily-weighted mining stocks were the worst performers, with BHP Billiton, Antofagasta, Anglo American and Glencore all weaker following S&P's downgrade of China's credit rating on Thursday.
On the upside, Sage, the specialist provider of products and services for those over 50, was in the black after it reported a 5.5% jump in its underlying pre-tax profit for the first half to £110.2m, while Coca-Cola HBC was boosted by an upgrade to 'equalweight' at Morgan Stanley.
Acacia Mining was also on the front foot after saying it has yielded positive results from a trial to increase the proportion of sellable gold produced by its smallest mine in the country.
On the data front, the CBI industrial trends survey is at 1100 BST.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Kingfisher (KGF) 303.00p 0.93%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 6,762.00p 0.87%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 2,524.00p 0.84%
Imperial Brands (IMB) 3,240.50p 0.81%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 3,416.00p 0.77%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 1,295.00p 0.54%
Diageo (DGE) 2,432.50p 0.50%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 4,586.00p 0.46%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 588.50p 0.43%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 7,330.00p 0.41%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Smiths Group (SMIN) 1,562.00p -3.16%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,316.50p -2.05%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 905.50p -1.79%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,312.00p -1.46%
Glencore (GLEN) 341.75p -1.39%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 726.00p -1.31%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,430.50p -1.01%
Direct Line Insurance Group (DLG) 367.40p -0.84%
Schroders (SDR) 3,239.00p -0.83%
Barclays (BARC) 189.00p -0.74%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Acacia Mining (ACA) 184.50p 3.30%
Pets at Home Group (PETS) 199.40p 2.47%
Clarkson (CKN) 2,882.00p 2.38%
CLS Holdings (CLI) 205.00p 2.19%
Sirius Minerals (SXX) 25.91p 1.61%
John Laing Group (JLG) 292.50p 1.56%
TBC Bank Group (TBCG) 1,700.00p 1.19%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 433.90p 1.17%
Polypipe Group (PLP) 400.00p 1.11%
Fisher (James) & Sons (FSJ) 1,499.00p 1.01%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
FDM Group (Holdings) (FDM) 948.00p -2.92%
Kaz Minerals (KAZ) 702.00p -2.64%
Provident Financial (PFG) 745.50p -2.49%
Telecom Plus (TEP) 1,066.00p -2.47%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 809.50p -1.70%
Rank Group (RNK) 216.40p -1.68%
Metro Bank (MTRO) 3,289.00p -1.56%
Marshalls (MSLH) 429.60p -1.45%
Sophos Group (SOPH) 533.00p -1.30%
Electrocomponents (ECM) 611.00p -1.21%