London open: Stocks nudge lower as miners drop; construction data eyed
London stocks nudged a touch lower in early trade on Wednesday despite a strong showing in the US, where Apple shares hit an all-time high in after-hours trading after solid third-quarter results, as mining issues weighed.
At 0825 BST, the FTSE 100 was down 0.1% to 7,430.49, while the pound was up 0.1% against the dollar at 1.3222 and 0.1% lower versus the euro at 1.1174.
The muted session in London came despite another record close for the Dow on Tuesday, underpinned by a rally in banking stocks amid hopes that US deregulation will make up for a lack of progress on healthcare and potential Congressional struggles with tax reform.
Heavily-weighted mining stocks proved the biggest drag, with Rio Tinto, Glencore, BHP Billiton and Antofagasta all in the red.
On the UK data front, investors will eye the release of the construction purchasing managers’ index at 0930 BST.
Analysts at Accendo Markets said: “UK construction PMI is expected to continue slowing from May’s 18-month high, although still holding its 4-month average.”
In corporate news, AstraZeneca fell after it and its haematology research and development centre of excellence, Acerta Pharma, announced that the US Food and Drug Administration has accepted and granted priority review for the new drug application for acalabrutinib.
Rio Tinto was in the red as it said it would be returning $3bn of cash to shareholders for the first half of 2017, declaring an interim dividend of 110 cents per share as well as a share buy-back of $1bn by the end of 2017.
RSA Insurance was weaker despite reporting reported a 15% rise in first-half group operating profit to £360m, beating expectations of £338m, and bumping up its interim dividend by 32%.
FTSE 250 builders’ merchant Travis Perkins retreated after it posted a drop in first-half profits despite growing revenues, as it highlighted a challenging plumbing and heating market.
Funeral company Dignity nudged down despite saying that underlying first-half pre-tax profit was up 9%.
On the upside, BAE Systems rallied after new chief executive Charles Woodburn presented a strong set of interim results, keeping the aerospace and defence group on an even keel and firing off a confident view on the outlook.
Babcock was on the front foot after RBC Capital Markets initiated coverage of the stock at ‘outperform’.
Smurfit Kappa was trading higher after it said quarterly profit fell but sales rose, while bookmaker William Hill racked up strong gains despite reporting a drop in profit for the first half, as revenues came in better than expected and the company sounded a confident note on the full year.
FTSE 100 - Risers
BAE Systems (BA.) 623.50p 2.72%
Babcock International Group (BAB) 867.00p 2.48%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,274.00p 1.59%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 245.80p 1.28%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 604.00p 1.09%
Rentokil Initial (RTO) 293.50p 1.03%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 854.70p 1.00%
Smurfit Kappa Group (SKG) 2,326.00p 0.87%
Intertek Group (ITRK) 4,727.00p 0.68%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 1,671.00p 0.66%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,431.00p -2.03%
CRH (CRH) 2,624.00p -1.72%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 647.50p -1.45%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 966.50p -1.28%
Glencore (GLEN) 333.85p -0.76%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,353.50p -0.66%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 6,995.00p -0.64%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,228.50p -0.61%
WPP (WPP) 1,544.00p -0.45%
Shire Plc (SHP) 4,238.00p -0.43%
FTSE 250 - Risers
William Hill (WMH) 265.30p 5.03%
Hastings Group Holdings (HSTG) 318.10p 2.61%
AA (AA.) 215.20p 2.48%
Cranswick (CWK) 2,986.00p 2.16%
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (MLC) 465.40p 1.62%
Sanne Group (SNN) 719.50p 1.48%
Dairy Crest Group (DCG) 598.50p 1.44%
Sirius Minerals (SXX) 30.47p 1.36%
Aggreko (AGK) 880.00p 1.32%
Vectura Group (VEC) 114.00p 1.24%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
CYBG (CYBG) 286.50p -1.88%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 167.00p -1.76%
Auto Trader Group (AUTO) 376.90p -1.59%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,510.00p -1.31%
FDM Group (Holdings) (FDM) 957.50p -1.24%
Drax Group (DRX) 317.80p -0.81%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,419.00p -0.77%
Polymetal International (POLY) 909.00p -0.76%
Indivior (INDV) 392.20p -0.71%
Cineworld Group (CINE) 683.00p -0.65%