London open: Stocks flat but retailers get a boost as Next lifts guidance
London stocks were little changed early on Wednesday as investors eyed the latest reading on the UK construction sector and minutes from the Federal Reserve, although retailers got a boost as Next lifted its guidance.
At 0830 GMT, the FTSE 100 was flat at 7,647.23, while the pound was up 0.2% versus the euro at 1.1295 and steady against the greenback at 1.3590.
UK construction PMI is at 0930 GMT, while the latest FOMC minutes are at 1900 GMT.
Accendo Markets analyst Mike van Dulken said: “This evening sees publication of the December Fed FOMC minutes, providing us with the latest on voting member views and what we might expect for 2018 in terms of further policy normalisation (rate hikes, QE unwind). Fireworks likely absent until next month, however, when new Fed chair Powell takes his seat from Yellen, the latter chairing one last meeting at the end of this month.”
In corporate news, Next provided some cheer, racking up impressive gains as the retailer nudged up its full year profit target thanks to a better online sales performance in the run up to Christmas, and said it expects increased sales but lower profits in the coming year. Fellow retailer Marks & Spencer rose, along with Primark owner Associated British Foods.
FTSE 250 residential landlord Grainger nudged up after it exchanged contracts with Abode Hallam Limited and agreed to forward fund and acquire a private rented sector (PRS), build to rent development, Eccy Village, in Sheffield, for around £32m.
Indivior ticked higher after saying it is joining up with Switzerland's Addex Pharma to support the development of treatments for drug addiction that target neurotramsitter systems, while Wizz Air was in the black as it posted a 20% jump in passenger numbers in December.
Babcock International slipped after signing a five-year agreement worth about £115m to maintain frigates for the Australian navy.
Electrocomponents was a touch weaker after saying it expects changes to US tax law to trigger a one-off credit this year followed by a reduced overall tax rate.
Budget airline Ryanair flew lower as it reported a 3% jump in traffic for December and said it has applied for a UK air operator licence so it can continue to fly from Britain in the event of a hard Brexit.
Outsourcer and construction Carillion slumped as it emerged it is being investigated by the Financial Conduct Authority over the “timeliness and content” of updates made by the company between 7 December 2016 and 10 July 2017.
CLS Holdings was flat as it unconditionally exchanged contracts to sell three properties in Peterborough in the UK and Hamburg in Germany for £12.4m.
In broker note action, IG Group was up after Barclays lifted its price target on the stock and reiterated its ‘overweight’ stance, while Experian and Bunzl were boosted by upgrades to ‘outperform’ at Credit Suisse.
Serco, Hays and Pagegroup were all lower following downgrades by Credit Suisse.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Next (NXT) 4,883.00p 8.51%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 327.76p 3.69%
Experian (EXPN) 1,649.00p 3.09%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,853.00p 2.66%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 2,000.00p 1.73%
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) 1,342.00p 1.53%
Intertek Group (ITRK) 5,194.00p 1.41%
NMC Health (NMC) 2,906.00p 1.32%
G4S (GFS) 265.90p 1.18%
Bunzl (BNZL) 2,068.00p 1.17%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Old Mutual (OML) 226.00p -1.22%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 1,529.50p -1.16%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 769.90p -1.00%
Carnival (CCL) 4,856.00p -0.94%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,581.20p -0.87%
Imperial Brands (IMB) 3,129.00p -0.86%
National Grid (NG.) 854.60p -0.85%
Severn Trent (SVT) 2,121.00p -0.80%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 759.10p -0.78%
Centrica (CNA) 140.10p -0.78%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Brown (N.) Group (BWNG) 283.07p 6.18%
IG Group Holdings (IGG) 759.50p 4.18%
Dunelm Group (DNLM) 697.00p 2.27%
Supergroup (SGP) 2,024.00p 2.22%
Computacenter (CCC) 1,167.04p 2.19%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 391.50p 1.98%
Sirius Minerals (SXX) 23.70p 1.89%
Saga (SAGA) 126.10p 1.69%
Pets at Home Group (PETS) 173.40p 1.64%
Victrex plc (VCT) 2,668.00p 1.60%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Serco Group (SRP) 93.50p -5.03%
Pagegroup (PAGE) 450.80p -2.72%
Clarkson (CKN) 2,800.00p -2.61%
Equiniti Group (EQN) 281.00p -2.09%
Hays (HAS) 180.20p -1.69%
PZ Cussons (PZC) 315.00p -1.69%
Rank Group (RNK) 244.50p -1.61%
CYBG (CYBG) 327.60p -1.56%
Greene King (GNK) 562.80p -0.99%
Bodycote (BOY) 906.81p -0.90%