London midday: FTSE stays down as Ocado slides; food inflation hits 17.1%
London stocks were still in the red by midday on Tuesday, with Ocado pacing the decline after disappointing results, as data showed that food inflation hit a record high.
The FTSE 100 was down 0.3% at 7,910.53. At the same time, sterling was off the highs reached on Monday but still firmer against the dollar, up 0.3% at 1.2098, after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak unveiled the new ‘Windsor Framework’ deal on Brexit.
Sunak said on Monday that the agreement was a "historic" and "decisive breakthrough" that "delivers smooth-flowing trade within the whole of the United Kingdom, protects Northern Ireland's place in our union and safeguards sovereignty for the people of Northern Ireland".
Investors were mulling the latest data from Kantar, which showed that grocery price inflation hit a new high in the four weeks to 19 February. Inflation reached 17.1% - the highest level ever recorded by Kantar, pushing the average annual bill up by £811.
Take-home grocery sales rose 8.8% in the four-week period and 8.1% over the 12-week period.
Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: "Shoppers have been facing sustained price rises for some time now and this February marks a full year since monthly grocery inflation climbed above 4%. This is having a big impact on people’s lives.
"Our latest research shows that grocery price inflation is the second most important financial issue for the public behind energy costs, with two-thirds of people concerned by food and drink prices, above public sector strikes and climate change. One quarter say they’re struggling financially, versus one in five this time last year."
In equity markets, online grocer and technology company Ocado slid after it posted wider losses as the cost-of-living crisis and return to normal shopping habits after the Covid pandemic hammered its joint venture with Marks & Spencer.
The group posted a pre-tax loss of £501m for the year to 27 November 2022, compared with a loss of £179m a year earlier and worse than analyst forecasts of a £399m loss.
Croda International was sharply lower as it posted a rise in full-year sales and profit but said 2023 was set to be more weighted to the second half than the prior year.
Travis Perkins was under the cosh as the builders’ merchant reported a fall in annual profit due to a tougher housing market and restructuring costs, which offset a rise in sales.
On the upside, St James’s Place was the standout performer on the FTSE 100 after well-received results.
Asset manager Abrdn gained despite saying it swung to a full-year loss, citing volatile markets and surging investments in what the company called "one of the hardest investing years in living memory".
Man Group surged as it reported a rise in full-year pre-tax profit and assets under management amid industry-beating net inflows.
Outsourcer Serco was also higher as it hiked its dividend and posted a jump in full-year profit and revenue despite a decline in Covid-related work.
Outside the FTSE 350, online electrical retailer AO World rocketed after it upgraded its profit guidance for the second time this year - and the third since November - citing the benefits of its cost-savings drive.
FTSE 100 - Risers
St James's Place (STJ) 1,278.50p 3.35%
Kingfisher (KGF) 284.00p 2.79%
Centrica (CNA) 106.75p 2.35%
M&G (MNG) 212.50p 2.21%
Abrdn (ABDN) 217.70p 2.01%
NATWEST GROUP (NWG) 293.60p 1.91%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,008.00p 1.70%
Prudential (PRU) 1,272.00p 1.64%
Unite Group (UTG) 999.50p 1.47%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 52.53p 1.43%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Ocado Group (OCDO) 586.00p -6.21%
Croda International (CRDA) 6,640.00p -4.16%
Intertek Group (ITRK) 4,208.00p -3.80%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 1,175.00p -2.37%
Experian (EXPN) 2,806.00p -1.72%
Convatec Group (CTEC) 223.40p -1.67%
Spirax-Sarco Engineering (SPX) 11,765.00p -1.59%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,397.50p -1.38%
Bunzl (BNZL) 3,047.00p -1.33%
Sage Group (SGE) 745.40p -1.30%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Man Group (EMG) 265.80p 8.80%
Serco Group (SRP) 156.30p 4.90%
Jupiter Fund Management (JUP) 145.40p 3.41%
Wetherspoon (J.D.) (JDW) 556.00p 2.49%
Currys (CURY) 81.50p 2.19%
888 Holdings (DI) (888) 69.10p 2.14%
Molten Ventures (GROW) 382.00p 1.92%
ICG Enterprise Trust (ICGT) 1,148.00p 1.77%
UK Commercial Property Reit Limited (UKCM) 56.60p 1.62%
TP Icap Group (TCAP) 189.00p 1.61%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
RHI Magnesita N.V. (DI) (RHIM) 2,490.00p -4.82%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,003.50p -4.06%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 192.70p -3.17%
Dechra Pharmaceuticals (DPH) 2,732.00p -3.05%
Coats Group (COA) 73.30p -2.53%
ITV (ITV) 87.46p -2.52%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 143.60p -2.31%
Wizz Air Holdings (WIZZ) 2,603.00p -2.18%
Future (FUTR) 1,373.00p -1.93%
Renishaw (RSW) 3,914.00p -1.86%