LONDON (SHARECAST) - UK equities are now registering moderate losses and bouncing “along the bottom” in rather lackluster trading conditions, as the main indices track futures on Wall Street. Those are now pointing to falls of about 1 per cent in the main benchmarks ahead of electronic trading being suspended before hurricane Sandy makes land-fall sometime this evening, in southern New Jersey.
techMARK 2,082.04 -0.29%
FTSE 100 5,766.86 -0.69%
FTSE 250 11,851.23 -0.63%
The forecast combination of the hurricane with another two storms is expected to create a somewhat freak weather phenomenon which some have already christened as the “Frankenstorm.” The risk of flooding and storm damage has already seen several hundred thousand people evacuated from low-lying areas in the state of New York and disruptions to air traffic nation-wide.
Hence, it should not come as a surprise to see insurers trading as one of the weakest groups on the top share index. British Petroleum is also moving lower as crude futures retreat, given that some US refineries are already being forced to close as Sandy approaches the mainland.
All of the above as the month of October winds to an end and, by some accounts, with trading volumes running at about 40 per cent below normal levels. Similarly, November is now expected to have been the third lightest month in trading volumes, after July and August.
Acting as a backdrop, Italian ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has threatened to “pull the plug” on the current technocratic cabinet led by Mario Monti, which some fear cannot survive without bilateral support from the main parties. That on the eve of a regional vote in Sicily that may signal the direction of the next national elections.
No less relevant, there is quite a bit of “market chatter” or speculation regarding the possibility that Spain could ask for a bail-out as soon as this week.
Back in the UK, Bank of England data has revealed that consumer credit grew by 1.199bn pounds in September, the most in four and a half years.
Also worth noting, in an interview with The Times the Bank of England´s Chief Economist Spencer Dale pointed out that there were circumstances in which he could imagine voting for more quantitative easing (QE), although he did also highlight the “stickiness” of inflation. As well, he raised concerns about the recent gains by the pound, saying that they were not good in terms of encouraging a rebalancing of the economy towards exports.
FTSE 100: Murdoch left in the cold (for now) over Pearson
Pearson has confirmed publishing firm Random House is to merge with its venerable book seller Penguin. The news came as Pearson released figures that showed how in the first nine months of the year Penguin revenues fell 1% compared to the same period of 2011. Critically, Pearson is to receive a larger stake in the combined company than had been mooted by some analysts.
Analysts at Citi have downgraded their view on shares of Hargreaves Lansdown to sell from neutral.
Anglo American's platinum unit, known as Amplats, has come to an agreement with trade unions in South Africa and hopes to see its 12,000 dismissed employees return to work by tomorrow, Tuesday, October 30th. Industrial action has been going on for the past six weeks since the initial safety suspension of Amplats' Rustenburg, Union and Amandelbult mining operations.
Old Mutual has said Nedbank Group, its majority-owned South African banking subsidiary, is on track to hit growth targets despite market conditions getting worse. Meantime, ratings agency Fitch has affirmed its view on the group´s debt, but while maintaining its outlook at negative.
Serco Group, the international service company, has signed a contract for an outsourcing partnership that will provide customer contact and support services for AEGON, the Dutch life and pensions company.
Citi analysts have upgraded their view on shares of Sage to buy from neutral.
Similarly, Deutsche Bank has today upped its price targets on Land Securities and Hammerson to 1,300p (from 960p) and 580p (from 540p).
FTSE 250: Investors jump ship on African Barrick Gold
The Telegraph´s Questor team wrote this Sunday that there is now –following the company´s cut to its production guidance- potentially more downside to shares of African Barrick Gold, in the event that China National Gold group walks away from a deal to acquire 74% of the company, than upside should a deal be struck. This means the risks look skewed to the downside. Questor thinks it is time to bank these gains and the shares are a sell.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Weir Group (WEIR) 1,740.00p +1.34%
Sage Group (SGE) 307.40p +1.05%
Meggitt (MGGT) 387.00p +1.04%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 859.00p +0.59%
Land Securities Group (LAND) 811.00p +0.56%
British Land Co (BLND) 534.50p +0.56%
Hammerson (HMSO) 471.90p +0.45%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,157.00p +0.35%
Amec (AMEC) 1,037.00p +0.29%
IMI (IMI) 931.50p +0.27%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 724.50p -4.55%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,077.00p -3.58%
WPP (WPP) 783.00p -2.19%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,243.00p -2.05%
Old Mutual (OML) 169.90p -1.91%
Evraz (EVR) 235.20p -1.88%
Schroders (SDR) 1,510.00p -1.88%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,898.00p -1.84%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,878.00p -1.78%
BP (BP.) 424.65p -1.61%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Halfords Group (HFD) 351.20p +2.09%
Pace (PIC) 174.00p +1.99%
CSR (CSR) 342.00p +1.06%
Galliford Try (GFRD) 740.00p +0.95%
Rotork (ROR) 2,249.00p +0.90%
Persimmon (PSN) 791.50p +0.83%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 187.10p +0.81%
Debenhams (DEB) 117.50p +0.77%
Petra Diamonds Ltd.(DI) (PDL) 100.20p +0.75%
SDL (SDL) 541.00p +0.74%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 438.40p -5.72%
New World Resources A Shares (NWR) 266.80p -4.71%
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 37.21p -4.59%
Man Group (EMG) 78.40p -4.21%
Catlin Group Ltd. (CGL) 454.50p -3.93%
Ruspetro (RPO) 98.10p -3.82%
Hiscox Ltd. (HSX) 467.10p -3.53%
Lancashire Holdings (LRE) 830.50p -3.21%
Amlin (AML) 362.20p -3.21%
Lonmin (LMI) 473.40p -2.73%