London close: Stocks flat as investors mull latest from Capitol Hill on stimulus
Stocks in London finished roughly flat on Wednesday as investors digested the somewhat contradictory news around talks for a fourth stimulus package on Capitol Hill.
Overnight, the US President surprised financial markets by halting negotiations between Democrats and Republicans, although he did leave the door open to what some analysts hoped would at least be sufficient near-term support for the economy.
"Stock markets have spent the day recovering from last night’s Trump tweets, which apparently obliterated any hope of a stimulus package for the US economy before the election," said IG chief market analyst Chris Beauchamp.
"While still below yesterday’s highs, US indices find themselves off the overnight lows, as the steadily-bullish action of the past few days reasserts itself. European markets are still in the red, but here too they have made up some lost ground, pointing towards hope of a deal of some kind before the election."
After the close of trading in New York on Tuesday, Trump clarified that he was nevertheless willing to approve measures such as the renewal of monthly $1,200 per person stimulus checks and $25bn in support for airlines.
Against that backdrop, the FTSE 100 had drifted lower by 0.06% to 5,946.25, while the second-tier index was up by 0.02% to 17,801.75.
December dated Brent meanwhile was down by 2.86% at $41.43 a barrel on the ICE, while Sterling was higher by 0.29% to 1.2919.
The market spotlight on Wednesday had been expected to be on the televised debate between US Vice-President, Michael Pence, and his Democratic contender, Kamala Harris, that was still scheduled for the evening.
On home shores, mortgage lender Halifax's house price index for September printed at up by 1.6% month-on-month to reach £249,870.
As an aside, 950 experts from around the world canvassed by EconPOL predicted that the global economy would shrink by 4.4% in 2020 and rebound by only 3.2% in 2021.
Tesco hikes payout, as expected
Grocer Tesco posted a 6.6% rise in group sales for the half to reach £26.7bn, with revenues in the UK and the Republic of Ireland ahead by 8.6%, while in Central Europe and at Tesco Bank they fell by 4.3% and 31.4%, respectively. Group operating profit before exceptionals meanwhile was down by 15.6% to £1.04bn. At period end, net debt excluding lease liabilities was up by £0.2bn to £3.0bn. The dividend payout was raised 20.8% to 3.2p per share or 35% of the prior year dividend, in line with company policy.
Stock in London Stock Exchange group was down 1% after a report in The Tines that the Chancellor would take on powers allowing him to block listings on the stockmarket by firms deemed to be a national security risk.
The board of Frasers Group has urged shareholders to back a £100m staff incentive scheme at Wednesday’s annual meeting. Frasers, formerly known as Sports Direct, plans to award the cash to staff if the share price hits £10 for a 30 day period. The awards will depend on length of service, with staff having worked four years or more entitled to a maximum four weeks’ worth of salary bonus. Frasers has put forward a separate performance reward plan that will reward the 1,000 highest-ranked employees, known as then “Fearless 1,000”, with the top 10 receiving £1m, with further payouts ranging from £500,000 to £50,000.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 156.65p 4.43%
CRH (CRH) 3,029.00p 3.03%
Glencore (GLEN) 169.40p 2.75%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,287.50p 2.67%
Kingfisher (KGF) 303.90p 2.53%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 2,494.00p 2.47%
Intermediate Capital Group (ICP) 1,301.00p 2.44%
Croda International (CRDA) 6,298.00p 2.37%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 4,762.00p 2.35%
Smurfit Kappa Group (SKG) 3,174.00p 2.19%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
M&G (MNG) 161.20p -3.26%
Relx plc (REL) 1,676.00p -2.95%
Avast (AVST) 502.00p -2.80%
British Land Company (BLND) 360.10p -2.41%
DCC (DCC) 5,368.00p -2.40%
Rightmove (RMV) 653.60p -2.21%
Auto Trader Group (AUTO) 558.40p -2.07%
BP (BP.) 215.85p -2.04%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 451.80p -2.00%
Persimmon (PSN) 2,615.00p -1.88%
FTSE 250 - Risers
FirstGroup (FGP) 46.00p 10.84%
4Imprint Group (FOUR) 1,872.00p 6.24%
ICG Enterprise Trust (ICGT) 832.00p 4.91%
RHI Magnesita N.V. (DI) (RHIM) 2,824.00p 4.90%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 225.20p 4.74%
National Express Group (NEX) 158.70p 4.41%
Gamesys Group (GYS) 1,236.00p 4.39%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 175.70p 4.33%
CMC Markets (CMCX) 364.50p 3.99%
Weir Group (WEIR) 1,556.00p 3.46%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 113.75p -6.07%
Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) 135.00p -4.95%
Energean (ENOG) 540.60p -4.71%
Helios Towers (HTWS) 148.80p -4.49%
Shaftesbury (SHB) 525.50p -4.45%
Provident Financial (PFG) 219.40p -4.36%
Serco Group (SRP) 123.10p -4.28%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 49.88p -3.98%
Sanne Group (SNN) 605.00p -3.94%
C&C Group (CCR) 192.20p -3.90%