London midday: Stocks holding onto slight gains
Stocks are holding slightly higher come midday as investors bid their time ahead of the release of a raft of key economic surveys at the end of the week and their potential impact on bond markets.
"European stocks edged ahead to fresh record highs in early trade before momentum slowed," said Oanda market analyst Sophie Griffiths.
"Strong corporate earnings, the continued rollout of Covid vaccines and the promise of easy monetary policy for longer has driven demand for equities to all-time highs."
As of 1201 BST, the FTSE 100 was rising 0.28% to 7,039.05, alongside a 0.49% advance on the second-tier index to 22,632.53.
Bitcoin was also in the headlines, following a roughly 15% plunge on Sunday amid reported rumours that US authorities were set to "crack down" on the crypto-currency's use for money laundering, with some analysts citing a focus on such activities by Cuba.
Geopolitics were also "coming back to the fore", analysts at Barclays Research told clients in a research report sent on 16 April, as the US tightened sanctions against Russia amid already tense relations with Beijing.
At the weekend, Washington warned Moscow of "consequences" if political activist Alexei Navalny died in prison. Nonetheless, on Sunday, Russia's ambassador to the UK said that would not be allowed to happen and there was some hope in the background that a US-Russia summit might help to lower tensions on the Russia-Ukraine border.
German politics were also drawing a fair bit of attention at the start of the week, with the Green party set to announce their candidate for Chancellor in the autumn elections.
Current opinion polls indicated that the Green candidate had a decent chance of winning, UniCredit chief economist Erik Nielsen pointed out.
Meanwhile, new US regulations meant that American firms would need government permission to use Chinese IT equipment and services, analysts at Rabobank mused out loud.
The potential supply-side shortages that might result could affect as many as 4.5m companies worldwide and would come on top of the global shortfall in semiconductor output which had already hit the auto industry.
As an aside, the Netherlands' De Volkskrant reported that Chinese telecoms outfit Huawei had free access to KPN's mobile network in the past and could therefore eavesdrop on all conversations - government's included.
On the economic side of things, according to Rightmove, UK house prices jumped at a month-on-month pace of 2.1% in March to reach £327,797 - a new all-time high.
However, no major economic releases were scheduled for Monday in the UK or US.
Among the broker recommendations that were moving share prices, Berenberg reiterated its 'buy' recommendation and 10,000.0p target price on London Stock Exchange Group.
The same German broker trimmed its target on Tesco shares from 286.0p to 280.0p, but also remained at 'buy'.
America's Madison Industries swoops in on Nortek's Air Management and Air Quality units
Melrose Industries has agreed to sell its Nortek Air Management business to Chicago-based Madison Industries, it announced on Monday, for £2.62bn in cash. The FTSE 100 company said it would use part of the proceeds to reduce debt and contribute around £100m to the GKN UK defined benefit pension schemes, which would mean that the funding deficit would be reduced to £200m. A portion of the net proceeds would also be returned to shareholders.
LondonMetric said 98% of March quarterly and monthly rents have been collected with a further 0.8% expected soon. Rent collection is high across all sectors with distribution at 99%, long income at 98%, offices at 99% and retail parks at 95%. For the year to March 2021, LondonMetric has demanded £114.1 million rent, of which 98.1% has been collected or is being collected, 1.1% was subject to asset management initiatives, 0.4% was forgiven and 0.4% remains unpaid.
ThreeArc Mining's initial Ore Reserve estimate for the Tomtor niobium and rare-earth metals project in the northwestern Russian province of Yakutia has confirmed it as one of the top-three rare-earths projects in the world. FTSE 100 listed Polymetal owns a 9.1% stake in ThreeArc. The open pit mine envisaged is expected to provide enough ore for more than 67 years of processing at the Krasnokamensk Hydrometallurgical Facility which is to be built near the town of Krasnokamensk. A bankable feasibility study was already in progress.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Ocado Group (OCDO) 2,247.00p 3.03%
Fresnillo (FRES) 947.00p 2.29%
Polymetal International (POLY) 1,591.50p 2.22%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 106.38p 1.74%
B&M European Value Retail S.A. (DI) (BME) 567.60p 1.61%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 3,236.00p 1.57%
Just Eat Takeaway.Com N.V. (CDI) (JET) 8,003.00p 1.52%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 252.40p 1.49%
SSE (SSE) 1,512.00p 1.44%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 211.20p 1.42%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 1,419.00p -1.80%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 175.65p -1.79%
Evraz (EVR) 627.20p -1.45%
Phoenix Group Holdings (PHNX) 749.80p -1.32%
Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) 287.10p -0.86%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 1,401.20p -0.82%
Flutter Entertainment (CDI) (FLTR) 15,565.00p -0.77%
Intermediate Capital Group (ICP) 2,002.00p -0.74%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 1,340.20p -0.74%
3i Group (III) 1,249.50p -0.60%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Indivior (INDV) 138.20p 3.13%
Future (FUTR) 2,372.00p 3.13%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 117.40p 3.03%
SSP Group (SSPG) 311.90p 2.94%
Drax Group (DRX) 419.00p 2.90%
GCP Student Living (DIGS) 182.40p 2.82%
WH Smith (SMWH) 1,909.00p 2.63%
Domino's Pizza Group (DOM) 365.80p 2.46%
Frasers Group (FRAS) 514.50p 2.39%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 160.20p 2.36%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Energean (ENOG) 816.50p -4.73%
AO World (AO.) 305.60p -2.43%
Just Group (JUST) 105.70p -2.22%
ICG Enterprise Trust (ICGT) 1,038.00p -1.89%
Hammerson (HMSO) 38.96p -1.62%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 2,031.00p -1.55%
Apax Global Alpha Limited (APAX) 204.00p -1.45%
Homeserve (HSV) 1,170.00p -1.27%
Man Group (EMG) 164.55p -1.08%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 167.00p -0.95%