LONDON (SHARECAST) - The Footsie opened lower on Thursday morning as investors remained cautious ahead of what is likely to be a closely watched EU summit in Brussels that kicks off today.
techMARK 1,979.91 -0.48%
FTSE 100 5,486.60 -0.68%
FTSE 250 10,693.39 -0.54%
European leaders are expected to discuss specific steps towards a cross-border banking union, closer fiscal integration and the possibility of a debt redemption fund, however expectations of any firm solutions or decisions are very low.
“Expectations have been very low in the lead up to the summit. We've seen a number of different ideas floating around in the media recently, many of which look set to be discussed over the next couple of days. However, Angela Merkel has made no secret of her intention to reject most of these measures.” said analyst Craig Erlam from Alpari this morning.
"The German Chancellor has made it very clear from the start that before she will even consider debt mutualisation or shared debt liability, the Eurozone needs more fiscal and political integration. This is unlikely to happen in the near future, especially with France opposing handing over control over their budget. Any decision over the next couple of days therefore looks unlikely," he said.
Several economic indicators from home and abroad are due for release today: in the UK, GDP figures, current account and index of services data is scheduled for this morning; in Europe, the business climates indicator and economic sentiment numbers are due; while in the US, consumer confidence, jobless claims a final reading of GDP are expiated.
FTSE 100: Barclays leads banks lower
Banking stocks were under pressure early on. Barclays was under fire after yesterday's news that it had manipulated interbank lending rates, leading some to ask for the resignation of CEO Bob Diamond. Sector peers RBS, HSBC and Lloyds were also lower.
Steel giant Evraz was extending losses made yesterday when German peer Salzgitter gave a gloomy outlook for the industry, saying that the Eurozone economy has deteriorated and steel processors and stockholding steel traders are expecting business to “stagnate”. Goldman Sachs slashed its target price for Evraz this morning from 700p to just 400p, but kept a 'buy' rating.
Potential merger partners Xstrata and Glencore were out of favour early on. There are rumours that Glencore could walk away from the possible combination after Xstrata shareholder Qatar Holdings demanded a high exchange ratio.
Consumer products group Reckitt Benckiser fell after Credit Suisse downgraded the stock to 'neutral' and cut its target price from 3,800p to 3,500p.
Meanwhile, gold miner Polymetal was suffering from a downgrade by UBS from 'buy' to 'neutral' and a target price cut from 1,060p to 970p. Analysts said that the ratings cut was for two key reasons: "recent strong share price performance and weaker silver prices".
FTSE 250: DS Smith impresses, Ladbrokes disappoints
Recycled packaging group DS Smith was a high riser after reported a 12% rise in revenues and a 44% jump in pre-tax profits in the year to April 30th. "2011/12 has been a pivotal year for DS Smith. Building on the success of the previous year we further improved the operational and financial performance of the business, with substantial improvements in revenue, growth, profitability, and returns on capital," said CEO Miles Roberts.
Betting firm Ladbrokes dropped after it issued a profits warning for its Digital division, blaming increased technology investment, marketing spend and a poor sportsbook margin in the second quarter of 2012.
FTSE 100 - Risers
United Utilities Group (UU.) 666.50p +1.14%
Severn Trent (SVT) 1,638.00p +0.92%
Resolution Ltd. (RSL) 191.50p +0.63%
Standard Life (SL.) 226.50p +0.49%
Serco Group (SRP) 528.00p +0.38%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 2,808.50p +0.34%
Centrica (CNA) 315.40p +0.25%
Rexam (REX) 406.60p +0.20%
Reed Elsevier (REL) 497.00p +0.16%
Ashmore Group (ASHM) 334.80p +0.12%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Evraz (EVR) 241.00p -3.17%
Barclays (BARC) 190.90p -2.63%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 3,292.00p -2.52%
Xstrata (XTA) 782.40p -1.78%
Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. (ENRC) 389.40p -1.77%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 868.00p -1.75%
IMI (IMI) 795.00p -1.67%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 152.70p -1.61%
Glencore International (GLEN) 293.70p -1.54%
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) 1,448.00p -1.50%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Smith (DS) (SMDS) 141.80p +3.50%
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (MLC) 482.80p +3.34%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 675.50p +2.89%
Rightmove (RMV) 1,554.00p +1.37%
Moneysupermarket.com Group (MONY) 125.30p +1.29%
BH Macro Ltd. USD Shares (BHMU) 18.77 +1.08%
Stobart Group Ltd. (STOB) 117.60p +1.03%
Bumi (BUMI) 314.30p +1.03%
Spirit Pub Company (SPRT) 50.00p +1.01%
3i Group (III) 190.30p +1.01%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Ladbrokes (LAD) 158.90p -8.57%
Bwin.party Digital Entertainment (BPTY) 108.70p -6.37%
Aquarius Platinum Ltd. (AQP) 46.53p -4.77%
New World Resources A Shares (NWR) 295.50p -4.46%
Shanks Group (SKS) 76.90p -3.39%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 82.35p -3.12%
CSR (CSR) 212.10p -2.53%
Paragon Group Of Companies (PAG) 166.80p -2.46%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 66.85p -2.27%
Petropavlovsk (POG) 437.40p -2.15%