London midday: Stocks dip into the red as FTSE struggles for direction
London stocks had fallen into the red by midday on Tuesday, struggling for direction after a mildly positive start.
The FTSE 100 was down 0.2% at 7,096.96.
AJ Bell financial analyst Danni Hewson said the top-flight index was heading nowhere fast, "starved of any obvious catalysts on the corporate and economic front".
"Concerns about the spread of the Delta variant seem to wax and wane as often as the weather and a slightly sunnier mood to match the meteorological conditions in the UK helped the travel sector eke out some modest gains early on.
"Also helping sentiment was a steady performance overnight for Asian stocks and a strong showing on Wall Street.
"All eyes remain on the Jackson Hole meeting at the end of the week with the markets likely ferreting around for clues on what central bankers will do next on financial stimulus and interest rates and, crucially, when."
Investors were also digesting a survey released earlier by the Confederation of British Industry, which showed that retail sales grew in August at the fastest pace since December 2014, while order growth hit a survey record high.
The CBI’s measure of the volume of sales rose to +60 from +23 in July, versus expectations for a drop to +20.
The survey found that average selling prices in August increased at the fastest pace since November 2017, with respondents expecting this picture to remain broadly similar in the month ahead.
CBI lead economist Alpesh Paleja said: "A ramping-up in retail sales growth in the year to August shows just how much consumer demand continues to spur economic recovery. While sales growth is set to remain strong, a more definitive shift in household spending towards consumer services is anticipated later in the year - leading to greater normalisation of growth in the retail sector."
In equity markets, Sainsbury’s was the worst performer on the FTSE 100, having surged on Monday following a report that US private equity firm Apollo was considering making a £7bn offer for the supermarket chain.
Banks were also under the cosh, with HSBC and Lloyds both weaker.
Wood Group declined as it reported a rise in interim profit as trading momentum improved in the second half but said revenue fell 22.9%.
On the upside, travel and leisure stocks were among the best performers, with Premier Inn owner Whitbread, British Airways parent IAG, engine maker Rolls-Royce, Cineworld and easyJet all higher.
Marks & Spencer racked up healthy gains after a positive Times 'Tempus' write-up and following an upbeat note by Berenberg.
Spectris rose after agreeing to sell its NDC Technologies business to Nordson for $180m (£130m).
FTSE 100 - Risers
Whitbread (WTB) 3,143.00p 3.22%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 164.62p 2.59%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 5,365.00p 2.11%
Flutter Entertainment (CDI) (FLTR) 13,980.00p 2.04%
Glencore (GLEN) 323.55p 1.91%
Evraz (EVR) 569.80p 1.75%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 115.58p 1.62%
Anglo American (AAL) 2,958.00p 1.61%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 1,989.00p 1.56%
Informa (INF) 533.80p 1.52%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 334.30p -1.68%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 389.05p -1.57%
Kingfisher (KGF) 355.90p -1.41%
SEGRO (SGRO) 1,272.50p -1.36%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 43.36p -1.34%
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) 1,482.60p -1.32%
Imperial Brands (IMB) 1,538.00p -1.32%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 1,389.50p -1.24%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 1,060.50p -1.16%
Avast (AVST) 600.20p -1.15%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Petropavlovsk (POG) 20.06p 4.81%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 171.45p 4.61%
Harbour Energy (HBR) 358.60p 4.43%
SSP Group (SSPG) 277.70p 4.40%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 44.74p 4.00%
easyJet (EZJ) 831.00p 3.77%
Cineworld Group (CINE) 65.20p 3.52%
Fidelity China Special Situations (FCSS) 342.00p 3.32%
Wizz Air Holdings (WIZZ) 5,106.00p 3.32%
Carnival (CCL) 1,523.80p 3.11%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Civitas Social Housing (CSH) 107.60p -1.47%
Computacenter (CCC) 2,884.00p -1.30%
NCC Group (NCC) 326.00p -1.21%
JTC (JTC) 738.00p -1.20%
Sirius Real Estate Ltd. (SRE) 122.00p -1.13%
Close Brothers Group (CBG) 1,500.00p -1.12%
Mitie Group (MTO) 72.20p -1.10%
IntegraFin Holding (IHP) 570.00p -1.04%
Moonpig Group (MOON) 383.00p -0.88%
Man Group (EMG) 212.70p -0.84%