London midday: Stocks hug flatline ahead of ECB decision
London's top-flight index was hugging the flatline come midday, ahead of the European Central Bank's policy decision, the main risk event of the day, with investors especially focused on anything that it might have to say on the possible exit of its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme.
The ECB was set announce its policy decision at 1245 BST, followed by the press conference with its chief, Christine Lagarde, at 1330 BST.
Commenting on how markets were approaching the ECB meeting, Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: "At the last meeting ECB President Lagarde said the bank would step up the weekly purchase program in an attempt to keep a lid on yields, however some members are already calling for the program to end by March 2022, and investors will be keen to see how she navigates any questions on the various diverging views on the governing council over when the program ends."
As of 1219 BST, the FTSE 100 100 was adding 0.07% or 5.02 points to 6,900.22, alongside a 0.60% or 1332.6 point advance on the FTSE 250 to 22,219.02.
Futures tracking the US S&P 500 were down by 4.0 points to 4,160.75.
Worth noting, Japan's Nikkei-225 recouped the previous day's losses in overnight trading, jumping 2.38% to finish at 29,188.17.
India's Sensex dipped 0.21% to 47.605.69.
Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, was in a similar frame of mind to Hewson, but put more emphasis on the potential risks.
"This ought to be a quiet one for the ECB, but the propensity for miscommunication is strong," he said.
"So we look rather to the risk that a hawkishness creeps in. The ECB will need to be careful about getting itself tied in knots about when and how it will exit PEPP just yet, and whether a PEPP taper coincides with raising traditional asset purchases [...]."
To take note of, some other analysts were stressing that PEPP was directly tied to the Covid-19 pandemic, so perhaps after March 2022 it would by a matter of fact need to be replaced by something else.
Stateside meanwhile, the spotlight will be on weekly initial jobless claims data, with financial markets keen to see to what degree the sharp drop during the previous week reversed or not.
On home shores, the Confederation of British Industry is scheduled to release its Industrial Trends survey at 1100 BST.
Rentokil confirms good start to 2021, as expected
Rentokil Initial reported a good start to the year on Thursday, growing group ongoing revenue by 15.4% at constant currency to £711.3m in its first quarter. The FTSE 100 pest control and hygiene company said 9.4% of that was organic and 6% was from acquisitions. It said that despite the uncertain Covid-19 outlook in some parts of the world, it still expected 2021 to be a “year of transition” with its core services building momentum, and disinfection volumes and prices reducing materially from the start of the second quarter.
Informa swung to a £1.14bn pretax loss in the year to the end of December from a £319m profit a year earlier as revenue fell 42.5% to £1.66bn and the group wrote down £593m of assets because of Covid-19. Adjusted operating profit fell to £267.8m from £933.1m. The events and information group predicted revenue in 2021 would be at least £1.7bn.
House builder Taylor Wimpey maintained annual guidance and reported an increased order book despite the latest Covid lockdown as strong demand and government support schemes drove sales. The company on Thursday said its sales rate for the year to April 18 was 1.00 against 0.90 in the equivalent period last year. Its order book stood at around £2.8bn, representing 10,995 homes against £2.66bn a year ago.
Centamin maintained full year production as it reported higher quarter-on-quarter gold output driven by improved mining grades. The company on Thursday said gold production rose 53% to 104,047 ounces in the three months to March 31. Year-on-year the figure output was down 17%.
Anglo American reported higher first quarter copper production despite capacity constraints caused by Covid-19 restrictions as it continued to shift its focus towards “future enabling” metals and minerals. The mining giant on Thursday said copper production for the three months to March 31 increased by 9% to 160,300 tonnes, due to strong operational performance at its Los Bronces and Collahuasi operations in Chile.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Experian (EXPN) 2,761.00p 2.68%
Aveva Group (AVV) 3,932.00p 2.53%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 3,252.00p 2.04%
Scottish Mortgage Inv Trust (SMT) 1,231.50p 2.03%
Rightmove (RMV) 611.60p 1.97%
Polymetal International (POLY) 1,610.00p 1.96%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 197.60p 1.89%
SSE (SSE) 1,485.00p 1.82%
Diageo (DGE) 3,279.00p 1.58%
Avast (AVST) 478.10p 1.55%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
BAE Systems (BA.) 501.30p -4.77%
Fresnillo (FRES) 894.00p -3.79%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,798.00p -2.34%
Informa (INF) 551.20p -2.30%
Rentokil Initial (RTO) 505.20p -1.33%
NATWEST GROUP PLC ORD 100P (NWG) 190.25p -1.32%
Phoenix Group Holdings (PHNX) 721.40p -1.31%
M&G (MNG) 208.30p -1.23%
Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) 271.60p -1.16%
Aviva (AV.) 395.40p -1.10%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Morgan Sindall Group (MGNS) 2,070.00p 10.81%
WH Smith (SMWH) 1,890.00p 5.00%
SSP Group (SSPG) 324.90p 4.30%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 1,956.00p 3.44%
TI Fluid Systems (TIFS) 307.00p 3.37%
easyJet (EZJ) 996.40p 3.13%
National Express Group (NEX) 312.60p 3.10%
Elementis (ELM) 136.00p 3.03%
Network International Holdings (NETW) 425.10p 2.86%
JPMorgan Japanese Inv Trust (JFJ) 659.00p 2.81%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 196.60p -4.56%
Sabre Insurance Group (SBRE) 258.00p -4.09%
AJ Bell (AJB) 447.60p -4.07%
Rathbone Brothers (RAT) 1,724.00p -3.79%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 45.58p -2.59%
Aggreko (AGK) 848.00p -2.58%
Drax Group (DRX) 414.40p -1.80%
Syncona Limited NPV (SYNC) 230.00p -1.71%
ITV (ITV) 114.50p -1.67%
Bodycote (BOY) 797.50p -1.66%
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