LONDON (SHARECAST) - - Footsie flat after strong start
techMARK 2,026.11 -0.61%
FTSE 100 5,723.35 +0.08%
FTSE 250 11,326.38 -0.07%
- AstraZeneca drops after disappointing first-quarter results
- Domestic economic data comes in mixed
After a strong rise early on, the FTSE 100 had erased gains to trade broadly flat by lunchtime after a mixed reception to a barrage of company results and trading updates.
In domestic news, net lending to companies fell by £3bn in March, according to the latest figures from the British Bankers Association (BBA). This was much a bigger drop than usual, with the six-month average showing a contraction of £0.9bn in lending.
Consumer confidence hit a nine-month high in March, according to a survey out on Thursday. The Consumer Confidence Index from the Nationwide Building Society registered 53, seven points higher than at the same time last year. However, the index remains well below its long term average of 76.
Markets were also reacting to last night's comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke who said that monetary policy in the US was "more or less in the right place". "The Committee expects economic growth to remain moderate over coming quarters and then to pick up gradually," according to the Federal Open Market Committee statement.
FTSE 100: Astra drops after cutting EPS guidance
Pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca tanked this morning after first-quarter revenues fell 11% year-on-year, missing consensus estimates by 8%. While core earnings per share (EPS) came in above forecasts, the group lowered its full-year guidance range by 2.4% at the mid-point. The firm also announced that Chief Executive David Brennan would retire in June.
Car insurer Admiral fell after saying that UK policy growth was at the lower-end of targets. Nevertheless, first-quarter group turnover rose 9% to £586m from £539m in the first quarter of last year.
Speciality chemicals manufacturer Croda International was out of favour despite saying it has achieved record results in the first quarter of 2012.
Mining and power generation group Kazakhmys was lower after severe weather and transportation issues adversely affected copper cathode output in the first quarter of 2012.
UK lender Barclays initially started the session in the blue but a cautious outlook statement prompted a fall into the red by midday. While adjusted pre-tax profits beat expectations in the first quarter, the group said that "the continued challenging market conditions mean it is too early to establish the trend for the year".
Meanwhile leading the upside was coffee shops, restaurants and hotels operator Whitbread which topped expectations with full-year profits and sales, with the Costa Coffee chain once again driving growth.
Oil and gas titan Royal Dutch Shell was in demand after its upstream activities drove a bigger-than-expected increase in the Anglo-Dutch group's first quarter earnings.
Consumer goods giant Unilever rose after saying it had a good start to the year and was on track to hit its full year targets, with turnover increasing by 11.9% in the first quarter.
FTSE 250: Elementis, Howden lead risers
Chemicals group Elementis was a strong performer after saying it is on track to hit full-year earnings forecasts with trading in the first three months of 2012 ahead of same period last year.
Howden Joinery jumped after saying UK revenue was up 5.9% in the first 16 weeks of 2012 and increased 4% on a same depot basis despite challenging market conditions.
House builder Taylor Wimpey rose after saying the UK housing market conditions remain stable and it is trading at the upper end of company expectations.
Bus and trains operator Go-Ahead Group edged higher after reporting a solid first quarter, with growth seen in both parts of the business, leaving it on track to meet full year expectations.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Weir Group (WEIR) 1,728.00p +4.10%
Whitbread (WTB) 1,879.00p +3.87%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 5,540.00p +3.65%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 2,262.00p +3.33%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 2,194.50p +3.12%
Unilever (ULVR) 2,140.00p +2.93%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 1,539.00p +1.85%
Tate & Lyle (TATE) 687.00p +1.63%
BP (BP.) 439.30p +1.62%
ITV (ITV) 86.85p +1.46%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
AstraZeneca (AZN) 2,682.50p -5.58%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,192.00p -3.17%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 1,195.00p -2.45%
Croda International (CRDA) 2,204.00p -2.39%
Evraz (EVR) 367.00p -2.29%
Aviva (AV.) 311.80p -1.95%
Reed Elsevier (REL) 503.00p -1.85%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 270.80p -1.71%
CRH (CRH) 1,222.00p -1.61%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 171.40p -1.55%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Elementis (ELM) 208.80p +5.72%
Howden Joinery Group (HWDN) 123.70p +5.10%
Essar Energy (ESSR) 130.50p +3.49%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 50.35p +3.47%
Senior (SNR) 210.10p +3.29%
Spirit Pub Company (SPRT) 54.75p +2.82%
Oxford Instruments (OXIG) 1,252.00p +2.71%
Big Yellow Group (BYG) 288.00p +2.49%
Provident Financial (PFG) 1,146.00p +2.32%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 132.20p +2.24%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Chemring Group (CHG) 324.70p -4.22%
Talvivaara Mining Company (TALV) 179.90p -4.05%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 787.50p -2.72%
Gem Diamonds Ltd. (DI) (GEMD) 257.20p -2.58%
Cobham (COB) 232.60p -2.39%
Henderson Group (HGG) 119.60p -2.29%
Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) 415.00p -2.26%
Rentokil Initial (RTO) 87.55p -2.07%
St James's Place (STJ) 337.60p -2.06%
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 50.90p -1.93%