London midday: Stocks edge up ahead of ECB announcement
London stocks were a little higher by midday on Thursday as investors waded through a raft of corporate news and eyed the latest policy announcement from the European Central Bank.
The FTSE 100 was up 0.2% at 7,013.46.
Oanda market analyst Craig Erlam said: "It would appear investors are not yet buying into the gloomy narrative on Monday that the recent surge in delta cases will drag on the recovery in the last quarter.
"Instead, upbeat earnings reports are giving investors a sense of optimism and, while disruptions are likely as a result of the surge, the belief remains that the best is yet to come. Whether that will be sustained if countries impose tighter restrictions is another thing but for now, optimism remains."
Erlam said the ECB meeting has probably been the most eagerly anticipated event this week but whether it will be the game changer the bloc needs seems unlikely.
"While inflation has returned this year, the permanent nature of it is up for debate and the expectation is that it will fall back again in time, leaving the ECB once again short of its objective.
"The strategic review clearly sought to address the persistent problem of significantly undershooting its inflation target for more than a decade. I just wonder whether the changes to its mandate will make any difference. It may allow for a little more easing which could weigh on the currency but whether than will actually make a difference is another thing."
In equity markets, Flutter Entertainment was the top FTSE 100 riser after an upgrade to ‘outperform’ at RBC Capital Markets.
3i Group racked up healthy gains after saying it made a strong start to the financial year as its Action retail business recovered from the impact of the pandemic.
Morgan Sindall surged after saying that full-year results were set to be "significantly ahead" of its previous expectations as trading has been strong across the group since its last update in April.
Online trading platform IG Group rallied after it upgraded its medium-term guidance and reported record full-year profit and revenue, as it benefited from high market volatility.
Volution was also on the rise after it said revenue and earnings for the full year were set to be ahead of market expectations.
On the downside, Unilever slumped as the consumer goods conglomerate reported higher-than-expected underlying sales growth for the second quarter but cut full-year operating margin forecasts due to rising costs.
NatWest was in the red after the government announced a new plan to cut its stake in the bank.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Flutter Entertainment (CDI) (FLTR) 12,885.00p 3.66%
Intermediate Capital Group (ICP) 2,206.00p 3.52%
Entain (ENT) 1,855.00p 3.52%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 175.20p 3.41%
Royal Mail (RMG) 533.00p 3.25%
3i Group (III) 1,249.00p 3.05%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 719.40p 2.89%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 156.80p 2.85%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 163.10p 2.51%
Weir Group (WEIR) 1,876.00p 2.51%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Unilever (ULVR) 4,055.50p -5.75%
Persimmon (PSN) 2,918.00p -3.09%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RKT) 6,175.00p -2.94%
Pershing Square Holdings Ltd NPV (PSH) 2,605.00p -0.76%
National Grid (NG.) 914.60p -0.75%
Polymetal International (POLY) 1,527.00p -0.75%
NATWEST GROUP PLC ORD 100P (NWG) 198.40p -0.58%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 5,939.00p -0.54%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 8,423.00p -0.43%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 2,592.00p -0.42%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Morgan Sindall Group (MGNS) 2,370.00p 12.06%
Auction Technology Group (ATG) 1,286.00p 5.24%
Volution Group (FAN) 475.00p 4.86%
Watches of Switzerland Group (WOSG) 981.00p 4.58%
NCC Group (NCC) 308.50p 4.40%
Moneysupermarket.com Group (MONY) 265.80p 4.40%
Inchcape (INCH) 850.50p 4.36%
IG Group Holdings (IGG) 859.00p 4.12%
Petropavlovsk (POG) 22.30p 4.11%
FirstGroup (FGP) 82.60p 3.83%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Pennon Group (PNN) 1,241.00p -2.21%
Investec (INVP) 275.90p -2.20%
Ninety One (N91) 226.20p -2.08%
Hammerson (HMSO) 37.37p -1.01%
Tate & Lyle (TATE) 734.40p -0.92%
Centrica (CNA) 50.28p -0.87%
PZ Cussons (PZC) 254.00p -0.78%
Premier Foods (PFD) 104.80p -0.76%
Spire Healthcare Group (SPI) 218.00p -0.68%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 103.80p -0.67%