London midday: Stocks edge higher despite US stimulus surprise
Stocks are holding higher despite the surprise decision overnight by the US President to halt talks on Capitol Hill aimed at agreeing on a fourth fiscal stimulus package and even as Brexit talks with Brussels remained logjammed.
However, the hit to investor sentiment from the former was limited by the fact that Donald Trump did leave the door open to an immediate further increase in spending, albeit in very targeted fashion.
In a post to his personal account on Twitter, Donald Trump said: "I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business."
But after the close of trading in New York, Trump clarified that he was nevertheless willing to approve measures such as the renewal of monthly $1,200 per person stimulus checks and $25bn in support for airlines.
For her part, the Democratic speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, reportedly said that further spending could yet be approved, by adding it to the temporary bill that would be needed to keep the federal government in operation past 11 December.
Against that backdrop, as of 1315 BST the FTSE 100 was up by 0.07% to 5,958.59, while the second-tier index was higher by 0.21% to 17,835.02.
In parallel, futures on the S&P 500 were up by 25.5 points at 3,378.75.
Sterling meanwhile was higher by 0.11% to 1.2895, while December Brent crude oil futures were slipping 1.2% to $42.12 a barrel on the ICE.
The market spotlight on Wednesday had been expected to be on the televised debate between US Vice-President, Michael Pence, and his Democratic contender, Kamala Harris, that was scheduled for the evening.
On home shores, mortgage lender Halifax's house price index for September printed at up by 1.6% month-on-month to reach £249,870.
As an aside, 950 experts from around the world canvassed by EconPOL predicted that the global economy would shrink by 4.4% in 2020 and rebound by only 3.2% in 2021.
Tesco hikes payout, as expected
Grocer Tesco posted a 6.6% rise in group sales for the half to reach £26.7bn, with revenues in the UK and the Republic of Ireland ahead by 8.6%, while in Central Europe and at Tesco Bank they fell by 4.3% and 31.4%, respectively. Group operating profit before exceptionals meanwhile was down by 15.6% to £1.04bn. At period end, net debt excluding lease liabilities was up by £0.2bn to £3.0bn. The dividend payout was raised 20.8% to 3.2p per share or 35% of the prior year dividend, in line with company policy.
Stock in London Stock Exchange group was down 1% after a report in The Tines that the Chancellor would take on powers allowing him to block listings on the stockmarket by firms deemed to be a national security risk.
The board of Frasers Group has urged shareholders to back a £100m staff incentive scheme at Wednesday’s annual meeting. Frasers, formerly known as Sports Direct, plans to award the cash to staff if the share price hits £10 for a 30 day period. The awards will depend on length of service, with staff having worked four years or more entitled to a maximum four weeks’ worth of salary bonus. Frasers has put forward a separate performance reward plan that will reward the 1,000 highest-ranked employees, known as then “Fearless 1,000”, with the top 10 receiving £1m, with further payouts ranging from £500,000 to £50,000.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 116.65p 2.32%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 2,486.00p 2.26%
Intermediate Capital Group (ICP) 1,296.00p 2.21%
Glencore (GLEN) 168.50p 2.21%
Kingfisher (KGF) 302.70p 2.13%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 152.95p 1.97%
Croda International (CRDA) 6,268.00p 1.89%
SSE (SSE) 1,314.00p 1.86%
Smiths Group (SMIN) 1,421.50p 1.79%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,276.00p 1.75%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Relx plc (REL) 1,684.00p -2.49%
M&G (MNG) 161.85p -2.41%
BT Group (BT.A) 101.95p -2.25%
DCC (DCC) 5,384.00p -2.11%
Pearson (PSON) 551.00p -1.68%
Aviva (AV.) 294.40p -1.47%
Persimmon (PSN) 2,628.00p -1.39%
Intertek Group (ITRK) 6,154.00p -1.38%
Rightmove (RMV) 659.40p -1.35%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 454.80p -1.34%
FTSE 250 - Risers
FirstGroup (FGP) 44.32p 6.80%
4Imprint Group (FOUR) 1,872.00p 4.35%
Rank Group (RNK) 98.50p 3.58%
Weir Group (WEIR) 1,554.50p 3.36%
National Express Group (NEX) 156.80p 3.16%
Drax Group (DRX) 291.60p 3.11%
PureTech Health (PRTC) 255.00p 3.03%
TI Fluid Systems (TIFS) 173.44p 2.87%
Greggs (GRG) 1,354.00p 2.81%
Computacenter (CCC) 2,352.00p 2.80%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
WH Smith (SMWH) 983.00p -4.19%
Energean (ENOG) 545.90p -4.03%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 116.35p -3.92%
easyJet (EZJ) 521.80p -3.62%
Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) 136.40p -3.54%
Helios Towers (HTWS) 150.60p -3.34%
Oxford Biomedica (OXB) 825.00p -3.06%
C&C Group (CCR) 194.20p -2.90%
Cineworld Group (CINE) 27.02p -2.81%
Signature Aviation (SIG) 247.90p -2.78%