London open: Stocks nudge lower as investors mull corporate news
London equities nudged lower in early trade as several big income stocks went ex-dividend and investors sifted through corporate news, awaiting fresh catalysts.
At 0837 GMT, the FTSE 100 was down 0.1%. Meanwhile, oil prices were fairly steady, with West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude up 0.2% to $53.20 a barrel and $55.88, respectively.
Spreadex’s Connor Campbell said: “After the UK data drama of the past two days things look a bit duller this Thursday morning, with the markets reversing some of yesterday’s movement.
“The FTSE fell around 20 points after the bell, taking the index back under the 7300 it has been flirting with for much of the week. A splash of red across the oil and mining sectors has been the main catalyst for the drop, though the pound’s early gains haven’t helped either.
In currencies, sterling rose 0.4% against the dollar, pushing it back towards 1.25, though was only flat against the euro close to the 1.175 mark.
"The UK doesn’t really have anything new to process this Thursday, so investors will likely to continue to trade in the light of those inflation and wage growth readings from Tuesday and Wednesday respectively,” Campbell added.
On the corporate front, electricity generation company Drax Group was in the red after it posted its preliminary results for the 2016 calendar year, with core down to £140m from £169m, and underlying earnings less than half what they were in 2015.
Aerospace and defence group Cobham tanked after it issued a profit warning for 2016 and said it will be hard to meet expectations for this year.
AstraZeneca, BP, Shell and Imperial Brands went ex-dividend.
International Consolidated Airlines and easyJet flew higher as peer Air France KLM reported strong results for 2016.
Drinks bottler Coca-Cola HBC nudged up as it upped its dividend 10% after a calendar year that saw flat volumes and a dip in sales due to currency but much improved profits thanks to improved costs and efficiencies.
Vectura Group edged up after saying hit its royalty cap on sales of GlaxoSmithKline´s Ellipta range of products in 2016, one year ahead of forecasts. The cap was equivalent to £9.0m.
Eastern European budget airline Wizz Air was in focus after announcing it will open its first UK airport with base operations at London Luton Airport in June, creating over 30 direct jobs.
Electra Private Equity was on the front foot after the buyout fund’s portfolio manager Epiris said its portfolio company AXIO Group has sold aviation intelligence group OAG, to funds managed by Vitruvian Partners for around $215m. Electra has received proceeds from AXIO of £104m, an uplift of £28m or 37%.
Lancashire Holdings was higher after its final results came in ahead of analysts’ expectations, while drug maker Shire gained ground ahead of its full-year numbers later in the day.
There are no major UK data releases due, but in the US, housing starts and jobless claims are at 1330 GMT, along with the Philadelphia Fed manufacturing survey.
FTSE 100 - Risers
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 517.50p 2.78%
easyJet (EZJ) 969.50p 1.57%
Shire Plc (SHP) 4,656.50p 1.47%
Next (NXT) 3,898.00p 1.33%
Dixons Carphone (DC.) 308.50p 1.21%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,659.00p 1.04%
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) 1,610.50p 1.00%
Experian (EXPN) 1,592.00p 0.95%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 6,955.00p 0.88%
ITV (ITV) 211.10p 0.86%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
AstraZeneca (AZN) 4,558.00p -2.69%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 3,054.00p -1.93%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,370.00p -1.79%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 693.50p -1.56%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 807.00p -1.33%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 854.50p -1.33%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 2,248.00p -1.17%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 2,145.50p -1.15%
Imperial Brands (IMB) 3,661.50p -1.04%
BAE Systems (BA.) 602.50p -0.99%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Lancashire Holdings Limited (LRE) 727.50p 6.91%
Aldermore Group (ALD) 236.80p 3.77%
Shawbrook Group (SHAW) 269.60p 3.69%
Wizz Air Holdings (WIZZ) 1,673.00p 1.70%
OneSavings Bank (OSB) 373.50p 1.69%
Inmarsat (ISAT) 653.50p 1.55%
AO World (AO.) 157.30p 1.55%
JPMorgan Indian Investment Trust (JII) 668.00p 1.52%
Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) 257.50p 1.38%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 273.30p 1.37%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Cobham (COB) 106.00p -21.71%
Drax Group (DRX) 364.20p -3.91%
Brewin Dolphin Holdings (BRW) 309.90p -2.09%
QinetiQ Group (QQ.) 271.60p -1.91%
Elementis (ELM) 305.50p -1.39%
Senior (SNR) 194.90p -1.32%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 1,086.00p -1.27%
Meggitt (MGGT) 429.70p -1.22%
UK Commercial Property Trust (UKCM) 82.00p -1.15%
Foreign and Colonial Inv Trust (FRCL) 555.50p -1.07%