London close: Stocks end on mixed note ahead of expected key vote on Brexit
Stocks finished the Friday session little changed ahead Saturday's key vote in Parliament, with some analysts saying that "anything could happen".
On that note, just after the close of trading in London, expelled opposition lawmaker, Oliver Letwin, said that he would table an amendment that was meant to close the last remaining loophole that could allow a 'no deal Bexit' even if the Prime Minister's proposal was approved by Parliament
However, if Letwin's amendment was selected by the speaker of the House, John Bercow, then the vote on the new withdrawal proposal could be delayed, although Letwin said he in fact supported it.
The FTSE 100 ended the day 0.44% lower at 7,150.57, even as the second-tier index put on 0.04% to trade at 20,228.53.
"The numbers seem tight for the Tories, and to a large extent it will be the lack of DUP support that could be responsible for any loss. With the EU pushing the notion that there will be no extension, a rejection of this deal tomorrow would likely bring a sharp decline in the pound," said IG's Josh Mahony.
"However, the fact is that the EU and UK would both lose out under a no-deal scenario, and thus the EU would likely show their hand in the days that follow if Boris fails to convince enough Labour MPs."
Commenting on the potential implications of a vote in favour of Boris Johnson's proposal on Saturday, Paul O'Connor, Head of the UK-based Multi-Asset Team at Janus Henderson, said: "If a deal is agreed on Saturday, the domestically-tilted FTSE 250 index should get another lift, as investors price-out the last bit of “no-deal” tail risk still embedded in UK asset prices.
"[...] the FTSE 100 is the baby that was thrown out with the Brexit bathwater. Concerns about Brexit have seen investors flee UK assets in recent years, including the big-cap index. This leaves the FTSE 100 looking under-owned, cheap and attractive to contrarian investors. We would not expect the FTSE 100 to be particularly sensitive to Saturday night’s vote."
In the background, data from China's National Bureau of Statistics revealed that the year-on-year rate of growth in the country's gross domestic product slowed from a clip of 6.2% for the second quarter to 6.0% over the three months ending in September (consensus: 6.1%) - the slowest pace since the early 1990s.
On a more positive note, separate figures showed that Chinese industrial production and retail sales grew more quickly than expected last month, albeit not fixed asset investment.
To take note of, a live interview from Bloomberg with Bank of England Governor Mark Carney was scheduled for 1730 BST.
Lenders extend gains
RBS topped the leaderboard ahead of its third quarter trading update scheduled for 24 October, alongside shares of Barclays which was also set to update shareholders during the following week.
Imperial Brands was also in the plus column, on the back of improved investor sentiment towards the sector following more negative news-flow around its vaping rivals, with US rival Altria having been upgraded by analysts during the session.
The protests in HK saw InterContinental Hotels Group's RevPar crater by 36.0% in the third quarter, driving a 6.1% fall for the Greater China region, instead of the 2.2% drop which analysts at Morgan Stanley had penciled in. In turn, total RevPAR shrank by 0.8% at constant exchange rates (Morgan Stanley: -0.1%), while at the prevailing exchange rates it fell by 1.9%.
Third quarter income at the London Stock Exchange rose 12% to £587m driven by a strong performance in its clearing division. Gross profit for the period rose 14% to £529m as the company said its planned £22bn takeover of data provider Refinitiv was still expected to complete in the second half of 2020.
Avast reported third quarter adjusted revenue growth of 5% to £220.3m, consistent with the expectations laid out in its half year results in back in August.The global cybersecurity provider consequently reaffirmed its full year guidance for adjusted revenue to be at the upper end of high single digit growth, when excluding FX, discontinued business and the sale of its managed workplace business.
Dechra Pharmaceuticals said it remained confident about its prospects for the current financial year in a trading update on Friday. The FTSE 250 company, which was holding its annual general meeting later in the day, said work was continuing to resolve the supply issues it had previously highlighted, with many of those having now been mitigated. It said it would announce its interim results for the six months ended 31 December on 24 February.
Burberry dropped after analysts at RBC Capital Markets cut their price target for the stock from 1,975p to 1,925p.
Separately, IG's Chris Beauchamp said weaker than expected Chinese GDP data out overnight and US tariffs on European fashion were taking their toll.
"With the Chinese Q3 growth hitting a 30-year low, Burberry have found themselves caught between the prospect of lower Chinese demand on top of a detrimental 25% tariffs the US has imposed on EU clothing exports," said Beauchamp..
Steelmaker Evraz was the biggest faller on the top flight index after it said it was considering three major investments projects to increase sales of finished steel products.
As a result of the planned investments, which will be made between 2020 and 2023, the company is predicting capital expenditure of $1bn per annum for each of the years.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 238.30p 2.63%
Aveva Group (AVV) 3,920.00p 1.76%
ITV (ITV) 137.40p 1.74%
SEGRO (SGRO) 835.00p 1.53%
Berkeley Group Holdings (The) (BKG) 4,524.00p 1.50%
NMC Health (NMC) 2,654.00p 1.49%
Smith (DS) (SMDS) 338.80p 1.38%
Imperial Brands (IMB) 1,869.60p 1.36%
Persimmon (PSN) 2,400.00p 1.35%
Land Securities Group (LAND) 960.80p 1.33%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 4,520.00p -4.58%
Evraz (EVR) 375.20p -4.58%
Relx plc (REL) 1,739.50p -2.55%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 711.60p -2.47%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 1,330.00p -2.28%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,739.50p -2.11%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,876.00p -2.04%
Intertek Group (ITRK) 4,934.00p -1.91%
Scottish Mortgage Inv Trust (SMT) 479.20p -1.68%
Sage Group (SGE) 690.00p -1.46%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Avast (AVST) 401.20p 8.61%
Grafton Group Units (GFTU) 822.50p 5.25%
WH Smith (SMWH) 2,288.00p 3.53%
Drax Group (DRX) 304.00p 3.05%
Watches of Switzerland Group (WOSG) 284.50p 2.89%
SIG (SHI) 118.30p 2.87%
Pagegroup (PAGE) 431.00p 2.81%
Senior (SNR) 180.30p 2.44%
Bodycote (BOY) 683.00p 2.40%
Premier Oil (PMO) 83.04p 2.32%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
OneSavings Bank (OSB) 372.40p -4.41%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 476.10p -4.35%
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 1,087.60p -4.28%
CYBG (CYBG) 133.10p -2.88%
Sabre Insurance Group (SBRE) 298.00p -2.77%
Sanne Group (SNN) 535.00p -2.73%
Hastings Group Holdings (HSTG) 191.00p -2.15%
Moneysupermarket.com Group (MONY) 339.80p -2.10%
Ashmore Group (ASHM) 479.80p -2.08%
Workspace Group (WKP) 1,001.00p -2.05%