London midday: Stocks in the black as investors wade through earnings
London stocks were still in the black by midday on Thursday as investors set aside their concerns about inflation and waded through an avalanche of earnings reports.
The FTSE 100 was up 0.4% at 6,686.73, while the pound was flat against the dollar at 1.4135.
IG analyst Chris Beauchamp said: "The mood across equity markets has turned much more positive, following on from two days of testimony by Jerome Powell that has once again reinforced the Fed’s policy outlook. Markets might have had a tantrum over the potential for higher inflation and a sudden change in Fed policy but the head of the US central bank remains as cool as ever, determined to leave everything as it is until the benefits of the recovery have flowed through to all parts of the US economy.
"This has allowed investors to go back to focussing on the reopening trade, although after the seesaw moves of recent sessions markets are a little tired and are struggling to make much headway. Nonetheless, with the end of the month looming equities seem to have acquired a more positive tone, and with eurodollar and cable on the up as well risk appetite seems to have recovered overall."
In equity markets, paper and packaging group DS Smith was the top gainer on the FTSE 100 following reports that rival Mondi is considering a £5bn takeover.
Anglo American rallied as a boom in commodity prices and the easing of Covid curbs in the second half helped the miner to report better-than-expected annual profits and lift its dividend. Mining stocks more generally were on the rise as copper prices rallied.
FTSE 250 construction and regeneration group Morgan Sindall gained as it reported a decline in full-year profit as the Covid-19 crisis had an impact, but upgraded its expectations for 2021.
Aston Martin, Morgan Sindall and Serco were also higher after full-year results.
On the downside, Standard Chartered fell after it said annual profits more than halved on bad loan impairments due to the coronavirus pandemic, as it resumed dividend payments and announced a share buyback. The Asia-focused bank said pre-tax profits fell 57% to $1.61bn, below the $1.85bn average of bank-compiled analyst forecasts. Credit impairments more than doubled to $2.3bn.
Hikma Pharmaceuticals, Genus, Drax, Centrica and Inchcape were also weaker after the release of their full-year numbers.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Smith (DS) (SMDS) 408.70p 6.43%
Anglo American (AAL) 2,965.50p 4.36%
Evraz (EVR) 584.60p 3.51%
BP (BP.) 308.25p 3.16%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 441.95p 2.95%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 114.75p 2.55%
Informa (INF) 564.60p 2.51%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,873.00p 2.43%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 1,462.00p 2.32%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 1,513.80p 2.17%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 2,280.00p -5.67%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 484.20p -4.95%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 185.85p -1.61%
BT Group (BT.A) 128.55p -1.61%
Rightmove (RMV) 605.80p -1.53%
Polymetal International (POLY) 1,483.50p -1.53%
Fresnillo (FRES) 951.20p -1.51%
Berkeley Group Holdings (The) (BKG) 4,252.00p -1.51%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 7,022.00p -1.38%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 2,256.00p -1.36%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Morgan Sindall Group (MGNS) 1,654.00p 11.16%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 2,153.00p 7.60%
Serco Group (SRP) 135.80p 5.11%
Capita (CPI) 47.34p 4.76%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 353.40p 4.56%
Biffa (BIFF) 254.00p 3.67%
Dixons Carphone (DC.) 123.60p 3.00%
Meggitt (MGGT) 454.80p 2.78%
Rank Group (RNK) 179.20p 2.63%
Cineworld Group (CINE) 97.42p 2.57%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Genus (GNS) 4,874.00p -6.98%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 428.30p -4.61%
Drax Group (DRX) 380.00p -3.80%
Centrica (CNA) 51.64p -3.48%
Spectris (SXS) 2,999.00p -3.20%
Inchcape (INCH) 704.50p -3.03%
Plus500 Ltd (DI) (PLUS) 1,374.50p -2.72%
ICG Enterprise Trust (ICGT) 972.00p -2.61%
Greggs (GRG) 2,194.00p -2.58%
Energean (ENOG) 928.80p -2.38%