London midday: Stocks nudge lower as BoE stands pat
London stocks had dipped into the red by midday on Thursday as the Bank of England stood pat on rates.
The FTSE 100 was down 0.2% at 6,497.28, while sterling pared earlier losses, trading 0.2% lower against the dollar at $1.362, after the BoE left interest rates unchanged at 0.1% and kept its bond-buying programme at £895bn, as expected.
Earlier, a survey showed UK construction sector activity unexpectedly contracted in January as the third national lockdown took its toll.
The IHS Markit/CIPS construction purchasing managers’ index fell to 49.2 from 54.6 in December, missing expectations for a reading of 52/9. This marked the first overall decline in construction output since May 2020.
Tim Moore, economics director at IHS Markit, said: "The construction sector ended a seven-month run of expansion in January as a renewed slide in commercial work dragged down overall output volumes. House building was the only major construction segment to register growth, but momentum slowed considerably in comparison to the second half of last year.
"Construction companies continued to report major delays with receiving imported products and materials from suppliers, with congestion at UK ports contributing to the sharpest lengthening of delivery times since May 2020. Adding to the squeeze on the construction sector, rising steel and timber costs led to the fastest rate of input price inflation for just over two-and-a-half years."
In equity markets, caterer Compass Group rallied as it told shareholders it was sorry for substandard free school meal packages and said revenue fell by a third in the first quarter, with no pickup expected in the second quarter.
Premier Inn owner Whitbread pushed higher after it said late on Wednesday that it had refinanced its credit facility and priced two new green bonds.
British Airways owner IAG was also in the black, along with InterContinental Hotels and cruise operator Carnival, most likely on the back of vaccine optimism.
Barratt Developments was on the rise after saying that first-half pre-tax profit edged higher amid record completions, as the housebuilder declared an interim dividend.
On the downside, Unilever fell as the consumer goods company increased its fourth-quarter dividend and reported a decline in annual profit caused mainly by currency swings.
BT Group lost ground after saying it was on track to meet full-year forecasts despite a fall in third-quarter core earnings.
Royal Dutch Shell reversed earlier gains to trade just a touch weaker after it said fourth-quarter adjusted earnings fell 87% to a worse-than-expected $393m year-on-year as the Covid pandemic hammered energy consumption.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Compass Group (CPG) 1,404.00p 4.04%
Whitbread (WTB) 3,110.00p 3.87%
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) 1,315.80p 2.64%
Persimmon (PSN) 2,762.00p 2.30%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 151.90p 2.08%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 158.70p 1.86%
Pershing Square Holdings Ltd NPV (PSH) 2,495.00p 1.84%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 7,429.00p 1.77%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 682.60p 1.37%
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 4,912.00p 1.32%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Unilever (ULVR) 4,176.00p -3.69%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 908.60p -2.89%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,005.00p -2.80%
Aviva (AV.) 348.60p -2.33%
BT Group (BT.A) 125.95p -2.14%
Severn Trent (SVT) 2,318.00p -2.03%
Just Eat Takeaway.Com N.V. (CDI) (JET) 8,042.00p -1.86%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 234.20p -1.68%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 1,314.00p -1.65%
NATWEST GROUP PLC ORD 100P (NWG) 152.70p -1.64%
FTSE 250 - Risers
ICG Enterprise Trust (ICGT) 988.00p 4.66%
Capital & Counties Properties (CAPC) 142.40p 3.56%
RIT Capital Partners (RCP) 2,120.00p 3.41%
Carnival (CCL) 1,309.00p 3.07%
Kaz Minerals (KAZ) 796.00p 2.90%
Cranswick (CWK) 3,532.00p 2.73%
Unite Group (UTG) 954.00p 2.58%
Chemring Group (CHG) 300.00p 2.56%
Aggreko (AGK) 629.00p 2.28%
Just Group (JUST) 78.60p 2.08%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Renishaw (RSW) 5,920.00p -3.27%
FDM Group (Holdings) (FDM) 1,044.00p -2.97%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 218.00p -2.59%
Helios Towers (HTWS) 169.60p -2.42%
BMO Commercial Property Trust Limited (BCPT) 73.70p -2.38%
LondonMetric Property (LMP) 222.60p -2.37%
Syncona Limited NPV (SYNC) 251.50p -2.14%
TI Fluid Systems (TIFS) 260.90p -2.10%
Future (FUTR) 1,810.00p -2.06%
Games Workshop Group (GAW) 10,020.00p -2.05%