LONDON (SHARECAST) - 1630:Close UK stocks have finished slightly higher today, led by gains in shares of Admiral and Kingfisher. The latter gained on the back of positive broker commentary following its Investors' Day. Standard Chartered was another of today's outperformers, after Citi named it one of its most preferred stocks. On the negative side of things, the mining majors took a hit from Goldman Sachs's decision to downgrade its price targets for the majority of stocks it covers in the sector. Acting as a backdrop, the latest export data out from China, Korea and Taiwan has surprised investors positively. FTSE 100 up 12 to 5,806.
1622: Mexico's President was cited by Dow Jones Newswires as having said that Spain's PM "hopes to get deal towards bail-out." That seems to have coincided more-or-less with selling in Spanish 10 year bonds. Greek bonds, on the other hand, are rallying today, with yields on the country's 10 year debt moving lower by 48 basis points (albeit to 17.57%). Market commentary is pointing to a now lower perceived risk of Grexit as the reason for that. Over the weekend Germany's Finance Minister stated that there will be no Greek departure from the euro area.
1613: Shares of Standard Chartered are higher after analysts at Citi named it as one of their most preferred stocks. That after the lender underperformed its peers in the European bank sector during the third quarter and by 15 per cent year-to-date.
1545: Scathing article today by Citi's Chief Econmist, William Buiter, in the Financial Times. He argues that the aim of German chancellor Angela Merkel's recent trip to Greece was simply to obtain a German "alibi" for Grexit. Furthermore, he writes that Greece will exit the single currency unless it obtains a de facto write-off of the about 300bn euro in remaining sovereign debt. Likewise, he believes that: "Also necessary to save the euro and create the conditions for a resumption of growth is a restructuring of the debt of the most likely insolvent sovereigns – Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Cyprus and possibly Spain, Italy and Slovenia."
1436: Analysts at Jefferies have today reiterated their buy recommendation on shares of Kingfisher (Target: 330p). More specifically, this is what they have to say: "A day with Kingfisher in the north of England confirmed the group's remarkably advantageous position in two major growth areas for DIY: online and eco. We continue to see self-help as a more powerful driver than consumer headwinds, particularly ahead of what would be a highly accretive B/S review." FTSE 100 up 9 to 5,803.
1337: It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good, and the current tribulations of iconic London black cab maker Manganese Bronze - the shares are suspended after a product recall was announced last Friday - is encouraging investors to ask who would benefit should the company go belly-up. Allenby Capital is suggesting clients step into Eco City Vehicles (ECV), which produces the Mercedes Vito taxi, which has been steadily taking market share from Manganese Bronze's TX4. In the first 7 months of 2012 the Vito increased its share of the new London licensed taxi market to 36 per cent from 22 per cent in the prior year, Allenby notes. 'The momentum was already behind ECV in the battle for the London taxi market and with the only other competitor currently out of the market (and reputation tarnished) we would expect ECV’s market share to accelerate and for the company to move into healthy profitability,' suggests Matt Butlin, head of Equities at Allenby. FTSE 100 is up 34 at 5,,827.
1330: US retail sales, ex-automobiles, rose 1.1 per cent month-on-month in September (Consensus: 0.6 per cent). The previous month's reading has been revised down to 0.8 per cent from a preliminary estimate of 1.0 per cent. Back in the UK, Societe Generale is no longer forecasting a rate cut from the Bank of England for November, it now sees the reduction taking place in 2013.
1317: Shares of RBS continue to be one the largest underperformers today on the top share index and this is what analysts at Credit Suisse are saying on the whole Santander affair: "we think this news will be taken negatively and reiterate our underperform rating. We see this news-flow so late in the process creating additional uncertainty, and the prospect of more value destructive alternatives. Furthermore, there has been significant sunk costs in carving out the branches which will not be recouped."
1301: Citigroup has just released third quarter earnings per share of 1.06 dollars, compared to a 97 cent consensus estimate.
1219: Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani has said the country is “looking in favor” of Glencore’s proposed $33bn takeover of Xstrata.
1035: Information management group SDL is the heaviest faller on the FTSE 350, dropping nearly 14 per cent, after saying that the slowdown in its technology business has continued into the third quarter. Investec downgraded the stock from 'buy' to 'hold' today, saying that while SDL is an appealing investment proposition, 'to justify a premium rating we believe the company will need to deliver on its growth potential within the technology business as well as the services business'. Nickel and zinc miner Talvivaara is also registering steep losses (down 6.8 per cent) after saying that heavy third-quarter rainfall is proving a major obstacle in its aim of mining 17,000 tonnes of nickel this year.
0937: RBS continues to trade lower on the news of the cancelled branch sale to Santander. Nomura has said this morning that the news has raised obvious concerns about the Verde sale between Lloyds and the Co-op. The broker said: 'The main cause of delay has been IT issues, and IT systems vary materially. However, the cancelled RBS-SAN sale highlights the difficultly of the task, and therefore of getting the timeline of the sale right.' Nevertheless, shares of Lloyds are up 1.5 per cent. Meanwhile, the FTSE 100 has extended gains and is trading up 19 points at 5,813.
0811: Footsie has opened slightly higher, driven by financial stocks, which are still enjoying a boost from the prospect of a delay in the introduction of tougher new capital rules. Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is one financial stock not off to a good start, however, after news broke over the week that Santander was pulling out of the deal to acquire 316 branches from the state-owned lender. RBS does not want to sell the profitable branches but is obliged to do so by diktat of the European Commission after RBS received tens of billions of pounds of state aid to avoid going belly-up during the credit crunch. Analysts at Nomura believe the news to be modestly negative, adding that "some negatives were already priced in." FTSE 100 is up 4 at 5,797.