London midday: Stocks flat as Diageo slumps, BP rallies on results
London stocks were little changed by midday on Tuesday following strong gains in the previous session, as investors sifted through results from the likes of BP and Diageo.
The FTSE 100 was steady at 6,030.64, having fallen a little earlier in the day.
IG analyst Joshua Mahony said: "UK stocks are flat today, despite an overwhelmingly positive session throughout Asia. While the PMI data released yesterday has helped boost sentiment around the July recovery, we are seeing ongoing fears of a less fiscally accommodative environment hamper that optimism.
"With major differences in opinion over exactly what any fiscal accommodation should look like, the ultimate decision from Congress will be a major determinant of market sentiment as we move forward. With the fear of a potential slump in economic activity that would come in the event of a fiscal withdrawal, the weakness we are seeing in the dollar this morning should come as no surprise."
In equity markets, Diageo suffered heavy losses after the drinks company took a £1.3bn charge for the reduced value of businesses hit by the Covid-19 pandemic as it reported a near-halving of first-half profit.
Babcock fell sharply as the aerospace and defence company said first-quarter underlying revenue fell 11% from the same period a year ago, while underlying operating profit slumped 40%.
Workspace provider IWG was under the cosh as it posted a widening of its first-half losses and Spectris slid despite saying it had performed better than it expected in the first half and reinstating its dividend.
On the upside, BP was the top riser despite halving its quarterly dividend for the first time in a decade as it swung to a $6.7bn second quarter loss as the coronavirus pandemic slammed demand for oil.
BT was also in the black after an upgrade to ‘buy’ from ‘hold’ at Berenberg, which said weakness in the shares was a buying opportunity as sentiment towards the company was set to recover.
Melrose Industries was on the front foot after it amended its financial covenants to give the company "considerable headroom and flexibility".
EasyJet flew higher after saying it expects to report a smaller loss for the third quarter of the year than the third and that it is expanding its flight schedule amid better-than-expected summer bookings. The budget airline said it now expects to fly around 40% of planned capacity in the fourth quarter, up from the 30% previously expected.
Mahony said: "We are seeing a clear sign that many people are confident enough to travel despite the Covid risks that have held some back. With the airlines likely to see better-than-expected revenues after improved demand, the subsequent alleviation of pressure on their finances should lessen the need for further funding going forward."
Car insurer Direct Line was up after it lifted its dividend and declared a special "catchup" payout to make up for cancelling its 2019 disbursement, as it reported a fall in profits.
FTSE 100 - Risers
BP (BP.) 301.20p 7.17%
BT Group (BT.A) 104.15p 6.25%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 93.28p 5.74%
BAE Systems (BA.) 515.00p 4.65%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 170.65p 4.15%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 239.00p 3.73%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 1,131.40p 2.78%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 1,173.60p 2.64%
Imperial Brands (IMB) 1,306.00p 2.63%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 121.60p 2.40%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Diageo (DGE) 2,712.00p -5.87%
Avast (AVST) 578.50p -2.77%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) 8,482.00p -2.35%
Intermediate Capital Group (ICP) 1,359.00p -2.23%
Experian (EXPN) 2,712.00p -2.20%
Intertek Group (ITRK) 5,502.00p -2.13%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,788.00p -2.03%
Rentokil Initial (RTO) 541.00p -1.78%
Aveva Group (AVV) 4,253.00p -1.78%
Schroders (SDR) 2,983.00p -1.78%
FTSE 250 - Risers
easyJet (EZJ) 552.00p 8.83%
Direct Line Insurance Group (DLG) 332.10p 7.96%
Rotork (ROR) 307.40p 7.56%
BMO Commercial Property Trust Limited (BCPT) 63.50p 5.48%
Inchcape (INCH) 458.40p 4.90%
SSP Group (SSPG) 215.20p 4.57%
Syncona Limited NPV (SYNC) 258.00p 4.45%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 300.50p 4.38%
William Hill (WMH) 113.80p 4.16%
Hiscox Limited (DI) (HSX) 785.20p 3.97%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Babcock International Group (BAB) 259.00p -10.38%
IWG (IWG) 205.40p -8.95%
Avon Rubber (AVON) 3,160.00p -4.39%
Equiniti Group (EQN) 112.80p -3.92%
Spectris (SXS) 2,545.00p -3.74%
Polypipe Group (PLP) 395.00p -3.54%
Kainos Group (KNOS) 1,122.00p -3.28%
Calisen (CLSN) 162.15p -2.32%
Ninety One (N91) 214.40p -2.28%
Convatec Group (CTEC) 200.40p -2.24%