London open: Stocks nudge lower but Millennium & Copthorne surges on deal news
London stocks nudged a touch lower in early trade on Monday on what was expected to be a fairly quiet start to the week, although deal news for Millennium & Copthorne livened up the proceedings a little.
At 0845 BST, the FTSE 100 was down 0.1% to 7,519.05, while the pound was up 0.4% against the euro and the dollar at 1.1188 and 1.3115, respectively, recovering from losses last week on the back of political uncertainty.
Sterling was taking advantage of Monday’s “bone dry” economic calendar as an opportunity to claw back some of last week’s losses, said Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.
“One could argue that such a data-less day would only throw a harsher spotlight on the latest round of Tory turmoil. Predictably the weekend’s papers were full of reports of party infighting, with one group urging Theresa May to say goodbye to Boris Johnson, and another, more Brexity cabal attacking the pro-EU Chancellor Phillip Hammond.
“However, sterling seems to have steeled itself somewhat over the weekend, calming the value-eroding jitters that plagued last Thursday and Friday. Perhaps the fact that nothing more dramatic happened - no resignations or comments from Johnson etc – has eased some of the currency’s fears.”
With no major UK data releases due, investors were digesting the latest services figures out of China.
The Caixin services purchasing managers' index showed non-manufacturing activity in China expanded at its slowest levels in almost two years last month. The PMI printed at 50.6 compared to 52.7 in August. Meanwhile, the Caixin composite PMI came in at 51.4 from 52.4 in August.
In corporate news, AstraZeneca ticked higher after its osimertinib treatment for first-line treatment of patients with advanced metastatic non-small cell lung cancer was given 'breakthrough therapy designation' by the US drug regulator.
Lancashire Holdings advanced as it estimated net losses from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, and the two recent earthquake loss events in Mexico would be in a range of $106m to $212m after anticipated recoveries from its outwards reinsurance programme, and the impact of outwards and inwards reinstatement premiums.
Centamin shone after reporting record third-quarter gold production at its Sukari mine in Egypt.
Millennium & Copthorne surged after City Developments, which is part of Singaporean billionaire Kwek Leng Beng’s Hong Leong Group, offered to buy the remaining shares in the company in a deal that values it at around £1.8bn.
Going the other way, medical technology business Smith & Nephew was in the red after announcing that chief executive Olivier Bohuon will retire by the end of 2018 after seven years in the role.
Wood Group slipped as it started trading as an enlarged company after completing its merger with Amec Foster Wheeler, making assuring noises about integration and expected cost savings.
BT and TalkTalk were under the cosh after Citigroup downgraded its ratings on both stocks, while Centrica took a hit after Goldman Sachs cut its earnings per share estimates for the utility.
However, Telecom Plus was lifted by an upgrade to ‘outperform’ at RBC Capital Markets.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Centrica (CNA) 177.00p 1.43%
ITV (ITV) 179.60p 1.07%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,437.00p 0.91%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 4,818.50p 0.77%
Severn Trent (SVT) 2,173.00p 0.70%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 7,480.00p 0.67%
SSE (SSE) 1,379.00p 0.58%
Babcock International Group (BAB) 833.00p 0.48%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,499.00p 0.47%
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 4,111.00p 0.44%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 1,371.00p -1.51%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,463.50p -1.18%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,666.50p -1.17%
Tesco (TSCO) 186.95p -0.77%
BT Group (BT.A) 281.10p -0.72%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,254.00p -0.71%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 991.00p -0.65%
Glencore (GLEN) 364.70p -0.60%
WPP (WPP) 1,399.00p -0.57%
NMC Health (NMC) 2,824.00p -0.49%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (MLC) 550.00p 20.88%
Telecom Plus (TEP) 1,170.00p 4.56%
Ted Baker (TED) 2,841.00p 4.45%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 226.50p 3.24%
Man Group (EMG) 175.20p 2.52%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 148.80p 2.34%
Acacia Mining (ACA) 188.30p 2.23%
Ascential (ASCL) 352.00p 1.82%
Metro Bank (MTRO) 3,475.00p 1.76%
PayPoint (PAY) 971.00p 1.68%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
TalkTalk Telecom Group (TALK) 209.60p -2.65%
TP ICAP (TCAP) 531.00p -1.67%
Kaz Minerals (KAZ) 813.00p -1.45%
Halfords Group (HFD) 339.10p -1.42%
Polypipe Group (PLP) 404.40p -1.15%
Restaurant Group (RTN) 307.90p -1.03%
Diploma (DPLM) 1,089.00p -1.00%
Fisher (James) & Sons (FSJ) 1,531.00p -0.97%
Hastings Group Holdings (HSTG) 302.30p -0.92%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 368.80p -0.86%