London midday: FTSE little changed ahead of US inflation figures
London stocks were still little changed by midday on Thursday as investors waded through a deluge of corporate news and looked ahead to the latest US inflation data.
The FTSE 100 was down just 0.1% at 7,287.51.
Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: "It’s a big day for inflation watchers as the US releases its latest cost of living figures. The consensus forecast is for the annual CPI inflation rate to fall from 8.2% in September to 8% in October. However, the month-on-month rate is expected to jump from 0.4% to 0.6%, suggesting that inflation remains sticky and that pressures on consumers and businesses are still severe.
"Pricing power has been a big theme on companies reporting over the past few months, with many businesses talking about how they’ve passed on extra costs to the customer. While that helps to preserve their profit margins, it does suggest a continuation of the strong inflation environment."
The US consumer price index for October is due at 1330 GMT.
On home shores, the latest survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors showed that the housing market weakened further last month as demand tumbled and house price growth came to a halt.
According to the RICS Residential Market Survey, new buyer enquiries fell for a sixth successive month in October, to -55 from -36 in September. It was the lowest reading since the 2008 financial crisis after spring 2020, when the housing market was halted during the first Covid-19 lockdown.
House prices also came under pressure, with the national net balance sliding to -2 from 30 a month previously, ending a 28-month run of positive readings.
Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at RICS, said: "The latest feedback to the RICS survey provides further evidence of buyer caution in the face of the sharp rise in mortgage costs.
"As a result, the volume of activity is likely to slip back over the coming months, and realistic pricing is now much more important to complete a sale. The settling down in financial market could provide some relief, although it may be premature to assume this will be reflected in a reduction in lending rates anytime soon."
Mortgage rates spiked after the government’s disastrous mini budget on 23 September. Since then, new chancellor Jeremy Hunt has scrapped most of the announced measures and markets have calmed. But they are still pricing in further rises in the interest rate, which has risen from 0.1% to 3% so far this year.
Looking ahead, the net balance for 12-month price expectations fell to -42, from -18 in September.
In contrast to the faltering housing market, however, the lettings market continued to see tenant demand rise at a "solid pace" in October, RICS noted.
In equity markets, B&M European Value Retail slid as the discount retailer reiterated its earnings guidance for the year and posted a rise in interim revenues but a drop in profit.
Auto Trader was also weaker as it reported a slight fall in half-year profits after booking a rise in costs associated with its takeover of car leasing website Autorama, but posted a 16% rise in revenues.
Haleon fell even as the former consumer health arm of GSK reported a 16.1% increase in third-quarter revenue, driven by higher prices, and forecast organic sales growth of 8-8.5%.
On the upside, Centrica surged as the British Gas owner announced a share buyback programme and lifted guidance for full-year earnings.
AstraZeneca also advanced after bumping up its full-year earnings guidance following a solid third quarter.
Building materials distributor and DIY retailer Grafton rose after it announced another share buyback programme as it backed its expectations for full-year operating profit and posted a jump in revenue.
Transact owner IntegraFin gained after saying it was performing "well" and upgrading its full-year profit guidance.
WH Smith rallied after the book and stationery retailer said it swung to an annual profit as a rebound in air and rail travel boosted revenues, with that momentum continuing into the new fiscal year.
Elsewhere, Aston Martin was boosted by an initiation at ‘overweight’ at Barclays.
FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,287.51 -0.12%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 18,659.78 0.06%
techMARK (TASX) 4,328.23 0.14%
FTSE 100 - Risers
Centrica (CNA) 84.60p 9.05%
Convatec Group (CTEC) 225.40p 6.42%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 11,132.00p 2.64%
SSE (SSE) 1,633.50p 1.21%
Aviva (AV.) 431.30p 1.17%
GSK (GSK) 1,423.40p 1.15%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RKT) 5,744.00p 1.09%
BT Group (BT.A) 117.10p 1.08%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 837.00p 0.99%
Pearson (PSON) 947.00p 0.89%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
B&M European Value Retail S.A. (DI) (BME) 351.00p -6.17%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 209.40p -4.12%
Auto Trader Group (AUTO) 538.40p -2.82%
Endeavour Mining (EDV) 1,609.00p -2.66%
Airtel Africa (AAF) 116.40p -2.59%
Haleon (HLN) 279.05p -2.52%
Rightmove (RMV) 509.40p -2.11%
Anglo American (AAL) 2,993.50p -2.09%
Whitbread (WTB) 2,482.00p -2.09%
Flutter Entertainment (CDI) (FLTR) 11,230.00p -2.05%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Grafton Group Ut (CDI) (GFTU) 784.50p 7.92%
IntegraFin Holding (IHP) 284.00p 4.72%
WH Smith (SMWH) 1,344.00p 4.43%
Helios Towers (HTWS) 120.30p 4.16%
Serco Group (SRP) 168.60p 3.95%
Domino's Pizza Group (DOM) 252.00p 3.19%
Drax Group (DRX) 553.00p 2.88%
Syncona Limited NPV (SYNC) 183.60p 2.57%
Bank of Georgia Group (BGEO) 2,475.00p 2.48%
TBC Bank Group (TBCG) 2,215.00p 2.31%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
FirstGroup (FGP) 92.15p -4.31%
888 Holdings (DI) (888) 95.85p -3.86%
Dunelm Group (DNLM) 911.00p -3.03%
Darktrace (DARK) 351.10p -2.93%
Target Healthcare Reit Ltd (THRL) 84.20p -2.88%
ASOS (ASC) 648.50p -2.85%
Softcat (SCT) 1,192.00p -2.77%
Synthomer (SYNT) 127.60p -2.37%
Marshalls (MSLH) 262.00p -2.24%
Vietnam Enterprise Investments (DI) (VEIL) 531.00p -2.21%