London midday: Stocks muted ahead of US inflation figures
London stocks were still little changed by midday on Wednesday as investors erred on the side of caution ahead of the latest US inflation data.
The FTSE 100 was up just 0.1% at 7,496.82.
On the macro front, the US consumer price index for July is due at 1330 BST, with economists expecting an easing to 8.7% from 9.1 in June.
Oanda market analyst Craig Erlam said: "I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that today's inflation number could set the tone for the markets for the rest of the month.
"A lower-than-expected number could be a major tailwind for the markets while anything around or above the June reading could trigger a big risk reversal in the markets as the debate shifts to 75 or 100 basis points, with 50 left in the rear-view mirror."
In equity markets, Aviva rallied as the insurer reported a 14% increase in first-half operating profit and said it expects to announce a share buyback with its full-year results.
Admiral also rose as the insurer posted a drop in first-half profit, pointing to a "more turbulent cycle than usual"” and high inflation. In the six months to 30 June, pre-tax profit fell 48% to £251.3m. Versus the same period in pre-pandemic 2019, however, pre-tax profit was ahead 19%. Peer Direct Line was also up.
TP Icap was boosted by well-received half-year results, while 4Imprint gained as it said customer demand was at record levels and posted a surge in first-half profits.
Pets at Home was lifted by an initiation at ‘buy’ by Jefferies.
On the downside, Quilter - formerly Old Mutual Wealth Management - slumped as it reported a decline in first-half assets under management and administration but a rise in profits.
Prudential dipped as the Asia-focused insurer posted a rise in first-half operating profit but struck a cautious note over the outlook.
Holiday company TUI was in the red as it said the travel chaos seen across Europe this summer had pushed it to a third-quarter operating loss as it incurred extra costs, but added that summer bookings were close to pre-pandemic levels.
Royal Mail lost ground as it emerged that around 115,000 of its workers are set to strike on four days in August and September in a dispute over pay.
Elsewhere, XP Power was knocked lower by a downgrade to ‘hold’ at HSBC.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Aviva (AV.) 454.20p 9.63%
Admiral Group (ADM) 2,077.00p 5.57%
Flutter Entertainment (CDI) (FLTR) 8,926.00p 3.62%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,526.00p 3.32%
Abrdn (ABDN) 165.95p 2.98%
Smurfit Kappa Group (CDI) (SKG) 3,112.00p 2.44%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 276.50p 2.41%
Endeavour Mining (EDV) 1,787.00p 2.23%
RS Group (RS1) 1,039.00p 2.16%
Intermediate Capital Group (ICP) 1,486.00p 1.71%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Centrica (CNA) 82.76p -1.62%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,570.00p -1.51%
Rightmove (RMV) 627.80p -1.29%
BT Group (BT.A) 159.15p -1.12%
Auto Trader Group (AUTO) 637.60p -1.02%
Unilever (ULVR) 3,954.00p -0.99%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RKT) 6,604.00p -0.87%
Spirax-Sarco Engineering (SPX) 11,395.00p -0.78%
Airtel Africa (AAF) 153.00p -0.78%
GSK (GSK) 1,634.60p -0.74%
FTSE 250 - Risers
4Imprint Group (FOUR) 3,825.00p 14.18%
TP Icap Group (TCAP) 145.40p 9.74%
CLS Holdings (CLI) 217.00p 4.33%
Synthomer (SYNT) 203.40p 4.15%
Polymetal International (POLY) 213.50p 4.15%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 148.40p 3.49%
Pets at Home Group (PETS) 351.00p 2.93%
Redde Northgate (REDD) 383.50p 2.40%
Virgin Money UK (VMUK) 156.50p 2.32%
Currys (CURY) 64.10p 2.31%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Quilter (QLT) 113.25p -5.43%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 151.05p -3.14%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 50.90p -3.14%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 139.45p -2.75%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 114.10p -2.40%
Royal Mail (RMG) 260.90p -2.06%
Baltic Classifieds Group (BCG) 145.20p -1.89%
Telecom Plus (TEP) 2,150.00p -1.83%
Drax Group (DRX) 765.50p -1.73%
Network International Holdings (NETW) 200.20p -1.67%