London midday: Stocks in the red as sterling rallies
London stocks were still in the red by midday on Monday, with dollar-earners pacing the decline as sterling rallied, ahead of a week packed full of earnings.
The FTSE 100 was down 0.3% at 7,009.14, having taken its cue from China, where the Hang Seng slumped more than 3% and the Shanghai Composite fell more than 2% as the country continued its crackdown on technology companies.
China announced strict new restrictions on education tech firms, while Tencent was ordered to give up its exclusive music licensing rights and fined for anti-competitive behaviour.
On home turf, investors were eyeing a busy corporate calendar, with earnings due this week from the likes of Barclays, Lloyds, NatWest, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Shell and ITV, among others.
In equity markets, dollar-earners were the worst performers on the top-flight index as the pound pushed up 0.3% against the greenback, with Unilever, Pearson and Vodafone all on the back foot.
IG market analyst Joshua Mahony said: "The pound is enjoying a boost in response to recent declines in Covid cases, with yesterday bringing the fifth consecutive decline that took the daily figure down to 29,173 following last week’s peak of 47,723.
"However, any optimism that we have seen the worst of this latest surge may be somewhat premature, with cases likely to pick up in response to last week’s grand reopening of the UK economy. Quite how much that so-called ‘Freedom day’ will drive up cases remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that investors will want to see cases and deaths ease off before they can trust the vaccination barrier to allow restrictions to remain lowered."
Discount retailer B&M European Value Retail was knocked lower by a downgrade to ‘sector perform’ from ‘outperform’ at RBC Capital Markets, which argued there was more valuation upside for several other general retailers.
Going the other way, food producer Cranswick rose as it reported a jump in first-quarter revenue, driven by strong retail demand and increased poultry sales.
Budget airline Ryanair flew higher after it reported a widening of its first-quarter losses as it continued to be impacted by Covid restrictions, but lifted its traffic forecast as bookings have surged in recent weeks. British Airways and Iberia owner IAG and fellow budget carrier easyJet followed suit.
Elsewhere, Antofagasta was lifted by an upgrade to ‘hold’ from ‘sell’ at Deutsche Bank.
FTSE 100 - Risers
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 174.00p 3.29%
Whitbread (WTB) 3,095.00p 2.04%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 97.43p 1.88%
Evraz (EVR) 618.20p 1.88%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 6,034.00p 1.82%
Anglo American (AAL) 3,016.00p 1.75%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,462.00p 1.74%
BHP Group (BHP) 2,291.50p 1.48%
Glencore (GLEN) 320.10p 1.38%
Fresnillo (FRES) 754.80p 1.29%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
B&M European Value Retail S.A. (DI) (BME) 567.40p -1.73%
Unilever (ULVR) 4,081.00p -1.52%
Pearson (PSON) 844.40p -1.49%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 117.10p -1.46%
Pershing Square Holdings Ltd NPV (PSH) 2,600.00p -1.33%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 1,535.00p -1.25%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 8,375.00p -1.24%
Royal Mail (RMG) 526.60p -1.24%
Flutter Entertainment (CDI) (FLTR) 12,720.00p -1.20%
Diageo (DGE) 3,464.50p -1.17%
FTSE 250 - Risers
easyJet (EZJ) 849.80p 4.42%
Auction Technology Group (ATG) 1,374.00p 4.41%
4Imprint Group (FOUR) 2,655.00p 3.51%
Beazley (BEZ) 394.50p 3.14%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 455.80p 3.03%
Dixons Carphone (DC.) 129.10p 2.79%
Trainline (TRN) 315.00p 2.74%
Redde Northgate (REDD) 424.00p 2.66%
Apax Global Alpha Limited (APAX) 203.50p 2.36%
Cranswick (CWK) 4,094.00p 2.30%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Fidelity China Special Situations (FCSS) 351.50p -5.26%
JPMorgan Emerging Markets Inv Trust (JMG) 128.80p -2.28%
Ultra Electronics Holdings (ULE) 3,196.00p -2.26%
Genesis Emerging Markets Fund Ltd Ptg NPV (GSS) 890.00p -1.87%
Templeton Emerging Markets Inv Trust (TEM) 191.56p -1.86%
Schroder Oriental Income Fund Ltd. (SOI) 267.00p -1.84%
Britvic (BVIC) 955.50p -1.75%
Moneysupermarket.com Group (MONY) 262.00p -1.36%
Convatec Group (CTEC) 259.00p -1.33%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 1,819.00p -1.28%