London close: Stocks finish 'disjointed' session in the green
London stocks managed a positive finish on Thursday, as investors digested a fresh batch of economic data from across the pond.
The FTSE 100 ended the session up 0.35% at 7,541.85, and the FTSE 250 was ahead 0.55% at 20,136.35.
Sterling was in a mixed state, meanwhile, last trading down 0.67% against the dollar at $1.1967, while it was 0.03% higher on the euro at €1.1837.
“It’s been a disjointed session for European markets today,” said CMC Markets chief market analyst Michael Hewson.
“We’ve seen a modest drift higher largely due to the recovery of US markets off their intraday lows from yesterday, which has helped add some support for prices.”
Hewson said the FTSE 100 was being helped by a “resilient” oil and gas sector, with a rebound in oil prices helping to underpin the broader index, led by BP and Shell.
“On the downside we’re seeing a drag from a whole host of companies going ex-dividend including Abrdn, M&G, Aviva and HSBC.”
In economic news out of the United States, unemployment claims data for last week came in slightly better than expected.
According to the Department of Labor, initial jobless claims for the week ended 13 August dipped by 2,000 to 250,000, while the previous week's level was also revised down by 10,000, to 252,000.
Economists at Barclays had pencilled in a reading of 260,000 for the latest week.
The four-week moving average, designed to smooth out the volatility in the week-to-week figures, slipped 2,750 to 246.750.
Secondary unemployment claims - those not being filed for the first time - edged up by 7,000 over the week ended 6 August, to 1.437 million.
"The downside surprise is an encouraging signal that fears of broad-based layoffs have yet to materialise, but claims will continue to face upside risks through the rest of the year," said Mahir Rasheed at Oxford Economics.
“Still, we doubt claims will accelerate sharply as labour demand remains well ahead of labour supply, while the outlook for the economy remains relatively positive despite elevated uncertainty regarding inflation and growth.”
Staying stateside, manufacturing activity in the US mid-Atlantic region improved in August, with the Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s manufacturing sector index printing at 6.2 - well above consensus expectations for a reading of -5.0, and surging from -12.3 in the previous month.
A key sub-index linked to new orders rebounded sharply, to -5.1 from -24.8, while that linked to shipments pushed higher still, to 24.8 from 14.8.
The subindex for number of employees was up to 24.1 from 19.4, and that for the average employee workweek dipped to 6.1 from 6.4.
“Responses to the August manufacturing business outlook survey suggest steady conditions, on balance in the region’s manufacturing sector," the Philly Fed said in its report.
“The survey’s future indexes suggest tempered expectations for growth over the next six months.”
On the continent, revised data confirmed a modest rise in the cost of living in the euro area last month.
According to Eurostat, the annual rate of increase in the headline consumer price index picked up to a seasonally-adjusted 8.9% for July, from 8.6% in June.
On a monthly basis, the CPI edged up by 0.1% versus June.
Inflation at the core level, stripping out food, energy, alcohol and tobacco prices, also gained as previously estimated, with the year-on-year rise in core CPI coming in at 4.0%, up from 3.7%.
On London’s equity markets, Legal & General lost 2.26%, HSBC was off 0.81%, and Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust slipped 0.67% as they all traded without entitlement to the dividend.
Gambling company Rank Group lost 3.41% after it said in its final results that trading conditions were likely to remain challenging in the months ahead, with high inflation hitting consumer discretionary spend and inflationary cost pressures continuing to impact operating margins.
Building and landscaping materials company Marshalls was 7.29% weaker after it held its full-year guidance and posted a jump in interim profits, but noted that the tough economic backdrop would hit consumer confidence.
On the upside, telecommunications infrastructure company Helios Towers added 2.59% after it backed its guidance for the year and reported a jump in first-half earnings, hailing strong organic tenancy growth.
AO World jumped 4.98% despite the online electricals retailer swinging to a full-year loss due to higher costs.
Reporting by Josh White at Sharecast.com. Additional reporting by Michele Maatouk and Alexander Bueso.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Harbour Energy (HBR) 396.30p 2.96%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,169.50p 2.59%
BP (BP.) 442.00p 2.58%
Prudential (PRU) 973.00p 2.46%
Glencore (GLEN) 498.25p 2.37%
Fresnillo (FRES) 729.80p 2.30%
Smiths Group (SMIN) 1,612.50p 2.25%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,741.00p 2.17%
Land Securities Group (LAND) 722.60p 2.09%
British Land Company (BLND) 473.90p 1.91%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Aviva (AV.) 439.40p -4.23%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 270.60p -4.14%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,441.00p -3.32%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 124.60p -2.81%
Abrdn (ABDN) 161.85p -2.50%
M&G (MNG) 208.90p -2.34%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 901.00p -2.26%
Anglo American (AAL) 2,905.00p -2.07%
B&M European Value Retail S.A. (DI) (BME) 416.30p -1.58%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RKT) 6,514.00p -1.48%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Plus500 Ltd (DI) (PLUS) 1,789.00p 5.80%
Syncona Limited NPV (SYNC) 203.50p 4.57%
Workspace Group (WKP) 583.00p 4.29%
Allianz Technology Trust (ATT) 259.00p 4.23%
Abrdn Private Equity Opportunities Trust (APEO) 447.00p 3.95%
Hammerson (HMSO) 26.33p 3.87%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 123.20p 3.70%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 149.90p 3.67%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 156.40p 3.37%
Victrex plc (VCT) 1,867.00p 3.04%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Marshalls (MSLH) 422.00p -7.29%
ASOS (ASC) 810.00p -4.93%
Ascential (ASCL) 244.40p -4.53%
Auction Technology Group (ATG) 890.00p -3.89%
Bridgepoint Group (Reg S) (BPT) 257.40p -2.43%
Dunelm Group (DNLM) 804.50p -2.31%
Pets at Home Group (PETS) 356.80p -2.30%
Currys (CURY) 64.35p -2.28%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 73.25p -2.27%
UK Commercial Property Reit Limited (UKCM) 74.00p -2.25%