London open: Stocks rally as investors digest US mid-terms; M&S drops on results
London stocks rose in early trade on Wednesday as investors digested a broadly in-line outcome to the US mid-terms, helped along by a strong performance from the mining sector.
At 0840 GMT, the FTSE 100 was up 0.8% to 7,099.22, while the pound was up 0.4% against the dollar at 1.3145 and flat versus the euro at 1.1461.
The mid-term election results in the US saw the Democrats take control of the House of Representatives while the Republicans tightened their grip on the Senate.
"Tuesday’s elections were broadly in line with what was expected, the fireworks-free outcome in and of itself seeming to have been welcomed by investors," said Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.
"There’s also the chance that this result will stymie Trump’s trade war with China, something that at the moment is outweighing the potential increase in instability brought about by the fresh round of investigations into the President and his administration likely to be pursued by the Dems."
Miners were the standout gainers on the FTSE 100, with Antofagasta, Anglo and Rio Tinto all higher as copper prices rose.
Housebuilder Persimmon was a touch higher as it announced that chief executive Jeff Fairburn will step down at the end of the year following outrage over his £75m pay package. The company also reported a 9% increase in third-quarter forward sales.
Sector peer Redrow fell, however, as it announced the retirement of chairman and founder Steve Morgan at the end of next March and said the London sales market remained subdued in the first 18 weeks of the year due to high Stamp Duty tax and Brexit uncertainty.
Marks & Spencer was the worst performer on the Footsie as the retailer reported sales down 3.1% in the first half of the year but higher underlying profits thanks to phasing of cost cuts. The retailer's food like-for-like sales fell 2.9% amid tough competition in the supermarket sector, while clothing and home sales shrank 1.1%.
ITV followed close behind as the broadcaster warned that it has seen some softening in advertising revenues at the start of the fourth quarter due to Brexit uncertainty and now expects total advertising to be broadly flat over the full year.
Pub group JD Wetherspoon was on the back foot after posting a rise in like-for-like and total sales for the 13 weeks to 28 October but warning that the trading outcome for the current financial year was likely to be below the previous year.
Security software group Sophos tumbled 35% as its first-half revenues fell short of analysts' expectations and the company warned on billings and future growth.
Security services firm G4S also suffered heavy losses after a disappointing trading statement, with organic growth for the third quarter coming in at 2.5% versus expectations of around 4.5%.
Low-cost airline Wizz Air flew lower after cutting its full-year profit guidance as it blamed "unprecedented" disruptions, higher fuel prices, air traffic control strikes and congested airports.
In broker note action, British Land was cut to 'equalweight' by Barclays, while Hammerson was downgraded to 'underweight'. Royal Bank of Scotland was lifted to 'outperform' at Macquarie.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Antofagasta (ANTO) 815.96p 2.35%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,734.80p 2.05%
Fresnillo (FRES) 887.80p 1.93%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 170.60p 1.85%
CRH (CRH) 2,277.00p 1.79%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,402.00p 1.76%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,936.00p 1.74%
Just Eat (JE.) 629.00p 1.71%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 621.00p 1.64%
BAE Systems (BA.) 529.40p 1.61%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 291.50p -3.64%
ITV (ITV) 148.80p -3.53%
British Land Company (BLND) 600.40p -0.92%
BT Group (BT.A) 248.85p -0.86%
Land Securities Group (LAND) 848.60p -0.63%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 145.36p -0.63%
Direct Line Insurance Group (DLG) 321.80p -0.28%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 243.95p -0.22%
Berkeley Group Holdings (The) (BKG) 3,593.00p -0.19%
Next (NXT) 5,242.00p -0.19%
FTSE 250 - Risers
TI Fluid Systems (TIFS) 212.60p 4.22%
Kaz Minerals (KAZ) 545.29p 2.81%
Mediclinic International (MDC) 377.90p 2.69%
Metro Bank (MTRO) 2,286.00p 2.24%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 94.14p 2.10%
Hastings Group Holdings (HSTG) 199.10p 2.00%
Indivior (INDV) 212.30p 1.92%
Capita (CPI) 128.69p 1.85%
Investec (INVP) 502.80p 1.82%
Vesuvius (VSVS) 562.00p 1.81%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Sophos Group (SOPH) 296.20p -35.13%
G4S (GFS) 195.60p -9.61%
Wetherspoon (J.D.) (JDW) 1,233.30p -5.93%
Wizz Air Holdings (WIZZ) 2,529.00p -5.17%
NewRiver REIT (NRR) 240.54p -3.78%
William Hill (WMH) 194.65p -3.01%
Hammerson (HMSO) 433.70p -2.10%
Redrow (RDW) 559.50p -0.97%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 321.10p -0.65%
Intermediate Capital Group (ICP) 910.99p -0.60%