LONDON (SHARECAST) - - FTSE 100 closes at lowest level since late July
techMARK 2,086.82 +0.26%
FTSE 100 5,657.86 -0.25%
FTSE 250 11,446.07 +0.15%
- Eurozone newsflow mixed ahead of ECB meeting
- Global slowdown fears weigh on sentiment
Mixed remarks from Eurozone officials prompted a volatile day of trade on London’s stock market on Wednesday as eyes remain fixed on tomorrow’s policy rate decision from the European Central Bank (ECB) and subsequent press conference with its President, Mario Draghi.
“Conflicting headlines from Eurozone policy-makers [left] markets feeling rather confused at the end of Wednesday’s session,” said market strategist Ishaq Siddiqi from ETX Capital. The FTSE 100 index closed at 5,658, its lowest level since July 31st.
According to Bloomberg this afternoon, unnamed central bank officials have said that Draghi will announce unlimited purchases of short-dated government debt (with maturities of up to three years) that will be sterilised, though the ECB would refrain from setting a public cap on yields.
However, according to Michael Fuchs from Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party, Germany would oppose the ECB’s bond-buying plan if it purchases “too much” sovereign debt without ensuring that these nations agree to strict conditions.
More worryingly, some reports allege that the Chancellor Angela Merkel herself would be opposed to unlimited bond purchases.
“Today’s events have left investors extremely uncertain over the ECB’s actions on Thursday – what we know is that the ECB does have the firepower to significantly ease tensions in the debt markets in the near term, however the central bank is extremely constrained with Germany’s opposition,” Siddiqi added this afternoon.
Also pressuring stocks today were global growth concerns: Australian second-quarter economic growth figures came in below expectations; Chinese data continues to point to a deceleration in the services sector; a Bank of Japan board member said that the odds of an extended world economic slowdown have increased.
FTSE 100: Ex-div stocks and BP lead the fallers
More than one-tenth of the top-share index's constituents were trading in ex-dividend format today, which acted as a millstone around the benchmark's neck. These include: Aggreko, ARM Holdings, BHP Billiton, Diageo, Evraz, IMI, Kazakhmys, Resolution, Serco, Shire and Tullow Oil.
Oil titan BP was falling heavily on press reports that the US Department of Justice is looking to impose the maximum possible penalty on the firm for its part in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
Gas giant BG Group dropped after analysts at Jefferies lowered their price target for the stock to 1,800p from 2,000p. In contrast, telecoms group BT Group was benefitting from a broker upgrade from JPMorgan Cazenove, who lifted its rating from 'neutral' to 'overweight'.
Potential merger partners Xstrata and Glencore were on the rise ahead of a crucial day on Friday, when shareholders vote on the proposed tie-up. Qatar Holdings, which owns around 12% of the miner, is among the several shareholders who have already voiced their opposition to the merger.
Insurance group Prudential gained after completing the acquisition of SRLC American Holdings Corp from Swiss Re after receiving all necessary regulatory approvals.
Financial services provider and asset management group Hargreaves Lansdown fell into the red after saying that its co-founder would step down later this year. Nevertheless, the company hiked its dividend by a fifth after seeing record levels of revenue, profits, assets under administration (AuA) and active client numbers in the year to June 30th.
FTSE 250: Britvic, AG Barr surge on merger speculation
Investors of Britvic and AG Barr today celebrated the news that the companies are in discussions about an all-share merger which would create ‘one of the leading soft drinks companies in Europe’.
"The combination would have compelling industrial logic and represents an opportunity for both companies to enhance their industry position, and achieve significant synergies and shareholder value," the companies said. At today's prices, the market cap of the combined group would be around £1.4bn.
Heading the other way was diversified miner Bumi. Shares have lost 17% in the past week since the company announced that its 29.2% associate PT Bumi Resources did not receive a $231m payment from investment fund manager PT Recapital Asset Management. The parties were said to be discussing a new repayment schedule.
Sector peer Lonmin also dropped on reports that around 1,000 miners at its Marikana site are staging a protest march as the stand-off over pay which led to the death of 34 workers continues.
FTSE 100 - Risers
ITV (ITV) 84.90p +3.54%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 33.93p +3.16%
Croda International (CRDA) 2,429.00p +2.79%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,554.00p +2.37%
Wolseley (WOS) 2,620.00p +2.26%
Xstrata (XTA) 935.10p +1.92%
Kingfisher (KGF) 276.70p +1.84%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 673.00p +1.82%
Prudential (PRU) 783.50p +1.75%
Shire Plc (SHP) 1,942.00p +1.73%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Resolution Ltd. (RSL) 203.00p -5.14%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 570.00p -4.52%
BG Group (BG.) 1,221.00p -3.93%
Evraz (EVR) 211.50p -2.98%
BP (BP.) 423.85p -2.92%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,778.50p -2.65%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,208.00p -1.91%
Imperial Tobacco Group (IMT) 2,406.00p -1.76%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 1,355.00p -1.67%
Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. (ENRC) 296.10p -1.53%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Britvic (BVIC) 369.90p +12.57%
Barr (A.G.) (BAG) 450.20p +8.33%
Moneysupermarket.com Group (MONY) 141.50p +4.81%
Dechra Pharmaceuticals (DPH) 527.50p +4.35%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 54.40p +4.31%
Big Yellow Group (BYG) 315.60p +3.82%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 164.20p +3.47%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 324.00p +3.18%
Fidessa Group (FDSA) 1,459.00p +3.04%
Heritage Oil (HOIL) 199.50p +2.84%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Bumi (BUMI) 268.70p -6.70%
Lonmin (LMI) 529.50p -6.20%
Phoenix Group Holdings (DI) (PHNX) 480.00p -5.60%
NMC Health (NMC) 186.00p -5.10%
Cape (CIU) 226.00p -4.72%
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 38.21p -4.12%
Aquarius Platinum Ltd. (AQP) 34.50p -3.39%
Avocet Mining (AVM) 86.80p -3.23%
John Laing Infrastructure Fund Ltd (JLIF) 107.80p -3.14%
Soco International (SIA) 334.00p -2.94%