London midday: FTSE edges higher in quiet trade
London stocks had edged higher by midday on Friday in quiet trade, with little in the way of corporate or economic news to provide direction.
The FTSE 100 was up 0.3% at 7,488.58.
Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: "Investors might not realise it, but we’ve just had an important week in terms of the potential direction of markets going forward. Signs that the Federal Reserve might slow down the pace of interest rate hikes is the first step towards the pivot in strategy desired by so many investors.
"US markets were closed for Thanksgiving on Thursday, and they are only open for half a day on Friday, suggesting that trading could be quiet across the pond. European markets have held up well over the week, with the Dax and the FTSE 100 both on track for a 1.2% five-day gain.
"Black Friday deals are now in full swing, and retailers will be hoping they can shift some of their excess stock. While this should clear some space in their warehouses, it won’t necessarily be good for their profit margins as consumers are under significant financial pressure and the only way to get them to keep spending is to slash prices to the bone."
There wasn’t much happening on the corporate front, but Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group was sitting pretty at the top of the FTSE 100 on news it has bought bespoke tailors Gieves & Hawkes.
Energy utility SSE edged up after saying it was selling a 25% stake in its electricity transmission network business to Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board for £1.46bn. The company said the deal would "unlock significant growth in both the transmission business and across the wider SSE group".
Elsewhere, Lloyds nudged higher after an upgrade to ‘outperform’ from ‘underperform’ at RBC Capital Markets, but NatWest was lower after a downgrade to ‘sector perform’ from ‘outperform’.
Housebuilders fell as Berenberg reiterated its cautious stance on the sector, initially outlined in September.
"As a result of further declines in affordability, we lower our base-case forecasts for the UK housing market and cut profit before tax forecasts by circa 40%, on average," Berenberg said.
"Importantly, we do not expect the sector-wide trough in earnings to occur until 2024. Indeed, we do not yet believe that company valuations are attractive enough for us to turn more positive on the sector and we maintain just two buy ratings, primarily for stock-specific reasons."
FTSE 100 - Risers
Frasers Group (FRAS) 890.00p 1.37%
Diageo (DGE) 3,793.50p 1.19%
Shell (SHEL) 2,366.50p 1.02%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 1,100.00p 1.01%
BT Group (BT.A) 127.35p 0.95%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 5,096.00p 0.91%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) 8,150.00p 0.87%
BP (BP.) 487.10p 0.73%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,351.50p 0.72%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 2,109.00p 0.72%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Ocado Group (OCDO) 652.40p -1.66%
SEGRO (SGRO) 825.00p -1.46%
Scottish Mortgage Inv Trust (SMT) 752.60p -1.26%
Unite Group (UTG) 944.00p -1.26%
Prudential (PRU) 940.20p -1.09%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,311.50p -1.06%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 103.95p -1.05%
NATWEST GROUP (NWG) 256.10p -1.01%
British Land Company (BLND) 402.00p -0.99%
Harbour Energy (HBR) 311.10p -0.89%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Discoverie Group (DSCV) 823.00p 5.65%
Virgin Money UK (VMUK) 177.70p 3.74%
Vietnam Enterprise Investments (DI) (VEIL) 537.00p 2.09%
Indivior (INDV) 1,714.00p 1.72%
Britvic (BVIC) 797.00p 1.59%
Spire Healthcare Group (SPI) 231.00p 1.54%
SDCL Energy Efficiency Income Trust (SEIT) 107.40p 1.32%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 107.30p 1.23%
VinaCapital Vietnam Opportunity Fund Ltd. (VOF) 407.50p 1.12%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,523.00p 1.03%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Home Reit (HOME) 60.00p -7.69%
Moonpig Group (MOON) 160.90p -4.85%
ASOS (ASC) 638.00p -4.06%
Dr. Martens (DOCS) 213.00p -3.79%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 125.60p -3.75%
Big Yellow Group (BYG) 1,100.00p -3.08%
UK Commercial Property Reit Limited (UKCM) 59.80p -3.08%
Shaftesbury (SHB) 366.40p -3.07%
LXI Reit (LXI) 120.60p -3.05%
Target Healthcare Reit Ltd (THRL) 79.70p -3.04%