London midday: Stocks maintain gains ahead of Trump speech; jobs data digested
London stocks were still in the green by midday on Tuesday as investors mulled the latest reading on the UK jobs market and looked ahead to a speech by US President Donald Trump for any clues on trade talks with China.
The FTSE 100 was up 0.3% at 7,352.81, while the pound was down 0.2% against the dollar at 1.2833 and flat versus the euro at 1.1649, having rallied a day earlier after the Brexit Party said it would not stand in the 317 seats won by the Conservatives in the last general election.
Data out earlier from the Office for National Statistics showed the UK unemployment rate unexpectedly ticked lower in September, but wage growth slowed.
In the three months to September, the number of people employed fell by 58,000, versus consensus expectations for a 102,000 decline. The unemployment rate nudged down from 3.9% in August to 3.8% in September, marking its lowest level since 1974 and beating expectations for an unchanged reading.
However, average weekly earnings including bonuses fell to 3.6% from a downwardly-revised 3.7% growth in August, undershooting expectations of 3.8% growth. Excluding bonuses, average earnings were up 3.6%, down from 3.8% growth the month before and missing expectations for an unchanged reading.
The figures also showed that the number of vacancies in the UK economy fell by 14,000 to 800,000 in the last quarter, marking the biggest quarterly drop since 2009.
Oanda analyst Craig Erlam said: "The jobs data this morning, much like the GDP data on Monday, was brushed aside by traders more focused on the outcome of the election and what it means for Brexit. It's unlikely this week's data would have any impact on the election outcome although a recession and rising unemployment would not have helped the Conservatives and would have been an unwelcome distraction."
More broadly, sentiment was underpinned by reports that US President Trump is expected to delay for another six months a decision on whether to impose tariffs on car and auto parts imported from the European Union. The Trump administration has until Wednesday to make a decision.
Erlam said: "After everything we've witnessed last week, Trump's denial will no doubt come sharpish, but until then investors are pleased. It would make sense to delay starting another major trade war until you've at least de-escalated another but then Trump doesn't care much for what many people deem sensible."
The reports came ahead of a speech by Trump at the New York Economic Club, which is due after the close of European markets.
Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: "Investors are eagerly awaiting a speech from US President Donald Trump on Tuesday that will feature the country’s trade policy. Tariffs have been major influence on the equity markets in 2019 and investors will look for every clue from Trump as to how the trade war with China could play out."
In equity markets, Vodafone was a high riser after it lifted its full-year profit guidance and said core organic earnings increased 1.4% in the first half.
Aveva pushed higher after the software company said it swung to a profit in the first half, with good growth across all its geographic regions.
ITV advanced as the broadcaster said strong US demand for its reality programming drove a rise in third-quarter advertising revenues to the top end of expectations.
Experian was up as the credit-checking firm lifted its full-year organic revenue guidance and reported a rise in first-half profit and revenue.
Oxford Instruments rallied as it posted a 55% jump in first-half pre-tax profit, while pub group Marston's was boosted by an upgrade to 'add' at Peel Hunt.
On the downside, sales, marketing and support services group DCC slumped despite releasing in-line first-half results and announcing the acquisition of Ion Laboratories, a US provider of contract manufacturing and related services to the health supplements market.
Electrocomponents was lower as it reported a 4.3% drop in first-half pre-tax profit, while Trainline slumped after a group of investors led by shareholder KKR sold their shares in the rail booking company.
B&M European Value Retail was in the red after saying it will undertake a strategic review to determine the future of its German business, Jawoll, as it posted a 71% drop in first-half pre-tax profit.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Evraz (EVR) 362.90p 3.39%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 868.80p 2.96%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 164.24p 2.47%
Aveva Group (AVV) 4,352.00p 2.21%
Severn Trent (SVT) 2,296.00p 2.14%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 207.78p 1.85%
NMC Health (NMC) 2,313.00p 1.85%
BT Group (BT.A) 196.53p 1.84%
ITV (ITV) 138.00p 1.51%
Smurfit Kappa Group (SKG) 2,716.00p 1.49%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
DCC (DCC) 7,128.00p -3.34%
Fresnillo (FRES) 639.40p -2.59%
Polymetal International (POLY) 1,153.50p -1.83%
Auto Trader Group (AUTO) 525.60p -1.76%
Rightmove (RMV) 585.60p -1.41%
Tesco (TSCO) 234.50p -1.35%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 743.60p -1.04%
Whitbread (WTB) 4,288.00p -0.81%
Meggitt (MGGT) 624.60p -0.76%
Hiscox Limited (DI) (HSX) 1,204.00p -0.74%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Oxford Instruments (OXIG) 1,458.06p 6.12%
Drax Group (DRX) 296.00p 5.34%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 135.70p 4.59%
Domino's Pizza Group (DOM) 280.00p 4.01%
Kainos Group (KNOS) 560.00p 3.70%
Aggreko (AGK) 823.60p 3.34%
Pennon Group (PNN) 914.40p 2.53%
Daejan Holdings (DJAN) 5,006.25p 2.48%
Marston's (MARS) 124.70p 2.38%
Bank of Georgia Group (BGEO) 1,479.00p 2.35%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Electrocomponents (ECM) 626.80p -11.22%
B&M European Value Retail S.A. (DI) (BME) 357.00p -5.56%
Trainline (TRN) 420.50p -4.86%
Games Workshop Group (GAW) 5,240.00p -4.38%
TI Fluid Systems (TIFS) 214.50p -3.81%
Beazley (BEZ) 527.00p -3.13%
Balfour Beatty (BBY) 230.20p -2.37%
Diploma (DPLM) 1,655.00p -2.24%
Softcat (SCT) 1,103.08p -2.04%
Hammerson (HMSO) 278.00p -1.45%