London midday: Stocks edge lower ahead of widely-leaked Budget
London stocks had edged a little lower by midday on Wednesday amid weakness in the mining sector, as investors eyed the well-leaked autumn Budget.
The FTSE 100 was down 0.2% at 7,260.84.
Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: "As often transpires, the contents of Rishi Sunak’s battered red briefcase were left looking like Westminster’s worst kept secret as today’s Budget enjoyed more trailers than the latest Marvel film ahead of its announcement.
"Certainly the FTSE 100 was in sleepy mood ahead of the Budget announcement and it remains to be seen if the Chancellor can wake investors up by pulling any rabbits out of the hat this lunchtime."
The Budget is due at 1230 BST, after PMQs.
Figures out earlier from the British Retail Consortium showed UK shoppers face rising prices in the run-up to Christmas after the cost of goods increased for the third month running.
Total food prices rose 0.4% in October from a month earlier compared with a 0.1% month-on-month increase in September, the BRC/NielsenIQ shop price index showed. Overall prices remained below the level of a year earlier but the annual rate of decline reduced.
Food prices rose 0.5% in October from the previous month and non-food prices increased by 0.3%. Food inflation rose sharply from 0.2% in September and non-food price growth accelerated from 0.1%.
Fresh food prices rose for the first time in 10 months and non-food prices were affected by rising costs caused by shortages and supply constraints that hit products such as furniture.
Price increases have been fuelled by the rising cost of commodities, component shortages, bottlenecks at ports and a shortage of lorry drivers. The BRC said 60% of retailers surveyed expected prices to increase as Christmas approaches.
Helen Dickinson, the BRC's chief executive, said: "This is the third consecutive month of both food and non-food month-on-month rises. The increased costs from labour shortages, supply chain issues and rising commodity prices have started filtering through to the consumer. Tight margins mean retailers may not be able to absorb all of these new costs, so prices will continue to rise."
In equity markets, Entain was among the gainers, having tanked on Tuesday after US-based DraftKings said it would not be making an offer for the owner of Ladbrokes and Coral.
Transport operator FirstGroup rallied to the top of the FTSE 250 after confirming it will return £500m to shareholders through a tender offer at 105p a share. The shares benefited from an upgrade to ‘buy’ at HSBC.
HomeServe rose after it announced the acquisition of CET Structures, a UK home emergency assistance business, for £53m, and said current trading was in line with guidance.
On the downside, miners retreated as copper and other base metals prices fell, with Glencore, Anglo American, Rio and BHP all weaker.
Admiral slumped after Munich Re sold 12.1m shares in the insurer in a placing at 2,940p each.
Wickes lost ground after it confirmed its full-year profit guidance despite inflationary headwinds, but reported a dip in third-quarter sales.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Smith (DS) (SMDS) 385.80p 1.61%
SEGRO (SGRO) 1,319.00p 1.58%
Entain (ENT) 2,033.00p 1.55%
Compass Group (CPG) 1,517.00p 1.51%
WPP (WPP) 966.00p 1.34%
SSE (SSE) 1,648.50p 1.32%
National Grid (NG.) 934.80p 1.30%
Bunzl (BNZL) 2,638.00p 1.11%
Smurfit Kappa Group (CDI) (SKG) 3,793.00p 1.09%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 1,816.50p 1.06%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Admiral Group (ADM) 2,883.00p -5.38%
Darktrace (DARK) 708.00p -3.48%
Glencore (GLEN) 361.40p -2.30%
Anglo American (AAL) 2,764.00p -1.93%
Kingfisher (KGF) 338.10p -1.74%
Abrdn (ABDN) 257.40p -1.42%
Aveva Group (AVV) 3,589.00p -1.40%
BT Group (BT.A) 141.30p -1.36%
BAE Systems (BA.) 555.80p -1.24%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 1,762.80p -1.19%
FTSE 250 - Risers
FirstGroup (FGP) 101.30p 5.36%
Homeserve (HSV) 860.00p 3.43%
Spire Healthcare Group (SPI) 239.50p 2.35%
Bridgepoint Group (Reg S) (BPT) 513.00p 2.19%
easyJet (EZJ) 621.60p 2.00%
Unite Group (UTG) 1,109.50p 1.79%
Centrica (CNA) 60.18p 1.55%
Drax Group (DRX) 533.00p 1.43%
Tritax Big Box Reit (BBOX) 228.60p 1.42%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 96.68p 1.24%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Plus500 Ltd (DI) (PLUS) 1,417.00p -3.57%
Ashmore Group (ASHM) 344.80p -2.93%
CMC Markets (CMCX) 257.50p -2.46%
PZ Cussons (PZC) 217.00p -2.25%
Chrysalis Investments Limited NPV (CHRY) 241.00p -2.03%
AO World (AO.) 147.80p -1.99%
Synthomer (SYNT) 473.80p -1.90%
Fidelity China Special Situations (FCSS) 324.00p -1.82%
Harbour Energy (HBR) 358.80p -1.70%
Auction Technology Group (ATG) 1,300.00p -1.66%