London open: Stocks nudge up despite trade worries; SSE tumbles on profit warning
London stocks nudged just a touch higher in early trade on Wednesday as worries about trade continued to dominate sentiment.
At 0840 BST, the FTSE 100 was up 0.1% to 7,283.52, while the pound was down 0.2% against the dollar at 1.3007 and flat versus the euro at 1.1227.
Trade relations were firmly in focus yet again after it emerged the day before that China will ask the World Trade Organization for permission to impose sanctions on the US next week.
CMC Markets analyst David Madden said: "The Beijing administration are claiming the US didn’t comply with a ruling regarding dumping duties in 2013. It has also been reported that the Chinese government have been putting off accepting licence applications from US companies operating in China, and this is seen as another way of getting back at President Trump. Relations between the US and China were strained in advance of this news, and they are likely to deteriorate further.
"Mr Trump has hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of tariffs up his sleeve, and dealers are fearful they will be imposed. The US leader doesn’t want to be seen as weak, and provocations could get a reaction from him. While the two sides hold their ground, dealers will remain cautious."
In corporate news, Dunelm advanced after saying that annual sales improved but underlying profits fell due to lower margins and trading losses from its acquisition of online specialist Worldstores.
Rare diseases specialist Shire edged up after saying that Veyvondi has been granted EU marketing authorisation to treat bleeding events for adults with von Willebrand disease.
Galliford Try rallied as it posted a jump in full-year profit and revenue as completions rose and the housebuilder said it was making "excellent" progress towards its strategic objectives across all three businesses.
Sports Direct rose as it said ahead of its AGM that trading was in line with the group’s expectations of achieving a 5% to 15% improvement in underlying earnings for current financial year, excluding the acquisition of House of Fraser. Things could get hairy at the AGM as three shareholder advisory groups have called on investors to vote against the re-election of Mike Ashley as CEO and Keith Hellawell as chairman.
Earlier in the week, a High Court judge ruled that Sports Direct must hand over documents it claimed were confidential to the accounting watchdog as part of an investigation into its auditor.
Superdry was higher as it appointed the former head of global womenswear for Tommy Hilfiger, Brigitte Danielmeyer, to the newly created role of chief product officer.
Big Yellow was in the green as it announced plans to raise around £67m to fund its pipeline of development opportunities and continue its longer-term portfolio expansion strategy, while Safestore gained after it reported a strong performance in the third quarter.
On the downside, SSE tumbled as it warned that first-half profits are likely to have halved compared to last year due to higher costs and lower volumes of energy being consumed. After five months of its financial year, the group said full-year adjusted operating profit at its Energy Services arm was likely to be significantly lower than predicted at the start of the year ahead of its spin-off and merger with Npower.
On the broker note front, Anglo American was lifted to ‘buy’ at HSBC, while Capital & Counties was boosted to ‘neutral’ from ‘underperform’ by Exane BNP Paribas.
LSE was upgraded to ‘buy’ at Alphavalue and RBS was bumped up to ‘buy’ at Goldman Sachs.
Barclays upped Taylor Wimpey to ‘overweight’ from equalweight’ and Bovis Homes to ‘equalweight’ from ‘underweight’, but cut Crest Nicholson to ‘equalweight’ from ‘overweight’.
FTSE 100 - Risers
easyJet (EZJ) 1,415.00p 1.51%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 169.90p 1.25%
Glencore (GLEN) 290.30p 1.19%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 2,426.00p 1.17%
Mondi (MNDI) 2,102.00p 1.15%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 2,107.00p 1.15%
BP (BP.) 549.90p 1.08%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 2,481.50p 0.94%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 2,515.50p 0.90%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 673.00p 0.90%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
SSE (SSE) 1,153.00p -7.80%
Centrica (CNA) 145.70p -2.70%
National Grid (NG.) 791.90p -1.98%
Severn Trent (SVT) 1,911.00p -1.60%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 707.40p -1.23%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,526.50p -0.79%
Imperial Brands (IMB) 2,588.01p -0.79%
Paddy Power Betfair (PPB) 6,780.00p -0.73%
Sage Group (SGE) 576.60p -0.59%
Barclays (BARC) 173.72p -0.58%
FTSE 250 - Risers
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 536.80p 3.39%
Dunelm Group (DNLM) 526.50p 3.24%
Metro Bank (MTRO) 2,838.00p 2.83%
Premier Oil (PMO) 123.20p 2.75%
Just Group (JUST) 76.05p 2.29%
Hunting (HTG) 772.50p 2.05%
Bovis Homes Group (BVS) 1,153.00p 2.04%
Sirius Minerals (SXX) 27.36p 1.94%
Galliford Try (GFRD) 1,018.00p 1.90%
Countryside Properties (CSP) 344.40p 1.83%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Crest Nicholson Holdings (CRST) 344.20p -6.37%
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (MLC) 493.50p -3.99%
TI Fluid Systems (TIFS) 268.00p -3.04%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 221.40p -2.04%
Capita (CPI) 143.15p -1.95%
AA (AA.) 115.65p -1.78%
IntegraFin Holding (IHP) 355.60p -1.22%
Provident Financial (PFG) 626.40p -0.92%
CLS Holdings (CLI) 220.73p -0.80%
RPC Group (RPC) 812.60p -0.73%