London midday: FTSE pares gains after breaching 8,000; Centrica surges
London stocks had pared earlier gains to trade just in the black by midday on Thursday, with Centrica surging ahead after bumper results.
The FTSE 100 was up 0.1% at 8,005.02, having breached the 8,000 mark for the first time on Wednesday as worries about a global recession continued to recede following better-than-expected US retail sales.
Simon MacAdam, senior global economist at Capital Economics, said: "A raft of strong data out of the US have poured cold water on the idea that its economy has tumbled into recession at the start of 2023. And this comes after GDP data revealed that the euro-zone and UK economies (narrowly) avoided outright contraction in Q4, in addition to a clear turnaround in the business surveys and further evidence that, if anything, labour markets have tightened in the past couple of months.
"Accordingly, it looks like the recessions we have long been forecasting in advanced economies will commence a little later than we had initially envisaged. But it still looks likely that the full force of monetary tightening is yet to be felt. Higher interest rates have weighted heavily on credit growth, which in turns points to a marked deceleration in GDP growth."
Looking ahead to the rest of the day, investors were eying the US producer price index for January, due out at 1330 GMT, along with initial jobless claims.
In equity markets, British Gas owner Centrica rallied as it said annual profits more than tripled to a record £3.3bn, driven by soaring wholesale gas prices in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as Britons struggle with household energy bills.
Standard Chartered gained after it announced a new $1bn share buyback as annual profits rose by almost a third on higher global interest rates, but still missed estimates after a sharp rise in bad debt provisions.
Relx was a high riser after it posted a 15% jump in full-year adjusted operating profit and lifted its full-year dividend by 10%.
Bank of Georgia pushed up after it posted another bumper set of results for the last quarter off 2022, as economic growth continued to rocket and the country's currency, the lari, continued to appreciate.
Upper Crust owner SSP was a little weaker even after it backed its full-year guidance and hailed a strong start to the year, with revenues ahead of pre-pandemic levels amid a further recovery in the travel industry.
Indivior tumbled after saying it swung to a loss in 2022 as it booked a $290m exceptional provision related to certain multidistrict antitrust class and state claims, and $6m to settle a dispute over reimbursement of legal costs with a supplier.
Moneysupermarket was also sharply lower despite posting a rise in full-year pre-tax profits.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Centrica (CNA) 103.45p 4.96%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 102.70p 3.51%
BT Group (BT.A) 142.75p 3.22%
Relx plc (REL) 2,520.00p 2.94%
Airtel Africa (AAF) 129.80p 2.45%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 743.80p 2.00%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 114.08p 1.86%
Pershing Square Holdings Ltd NPV (PSH) 3,110.00p 1.80%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 2,518.00p 1.74%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 644.40p 1.54%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Imperial Brands (IMB) 1,985.00p -3.31%
Berkeley Group Holdings (The) (BKG) 4,177.00p -1.79%
Endeavour Mining (EDV) 1,818.00p -1.14%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 2,055.00p -0.96%
BP (BP.) 555.30p -0.79%
3i Group (III) 1,661.50p -0.69%
Unilever (ULVR) 4,239.50p -0.66%
CRH (CDI) (CRH) 3,956.50p -0.57%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,135.50p -0.44%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 880.00p -0.41%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Bank of Georgia Group (BGEO) 2,910.00p 6.99%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 141.60p 3.66%
Dr. Martens (DOCS) 159.40p 2.77%
ASOS (ASC) 853.50p 2.77%
Petershill Partners (PHLL) 167.00p 2.71%
Watches of Switzerland Group (WOSG) 865.50p 2.61%
Wizz Air Holdings (WIZZ) 2,821.00p 2.36%
Trainline (TRN) 261.00p 2.35%
Syncona Limited NPV (SYNC) 173.80p 2.24%
Darktrace (DARK) 267.30p 2.22%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Indivior (INDV) 1,721.00p -11.92%
Moneysupermarket.com Group (MONY) 228.40p -2.97%
NCC Group (NCC) 173.00p -2.04%
Bakkavor Group (BAKK) 108.80p -1.98%
Ashmore Group (ASHM) 276.00p -1.57%
BH Macro Ltd. GBP Shares (BHMG) 441.00p -1.56%
Moonpig Group (MOON) 124.30p -1.51%
SSP Group (SSPG) 265.70p -1.41%
Jupiter Fund Management (JUP) 144.60p -1.23%
Pets at Home Group (PETS) 374.40p -1.21%