London midday: Stocks nudge lower despite China hopes
London stocks had nudged lower by midday on Monday as investors continued to mull last week’s payrolls report and a further easing of Covid curbs in China.
The FTSE 100 was down 0.1% at 7,712.42, having hit four-year highs earlier in the session.
Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: "Although US jobs figures came in above expectations at the end of last week, suggesting the labour market is still tight, investors seem to have focused on wage growth coming in slightly below what had been pencilled in. From their perspective that might prompt the Fed to slow its rate rises, hence the positive market reaction to the figures.
"Further easing of China’s Covid measures, despite surging cases in the country, have also helped create a happier mood. However, sentiment still feels as fragile as a teacup and US inflation numbers on Thursday could provide a key test for investor confidence."
In equity markets, Airtel Africa slid after saying its Nigerian subsidiary had bought 4G & 5G spectrum from the Nigerian Communications Commission for $316.7m.
AstraZeneca lost ground as it announced the acquisition of US-based clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company CinCor in a $1.8bn deal.
Ground engineering contractor Keller Group tumbled as it issued a profit warning after uncovering financial fraud at its Australia business that resulted in two directors being sacked.
In what it called a "deliberate and sophisticated" reporting fraud at Austral, a civil, mining and marine contractor, profits from 2019 onwards had been overstated. The impact of the fraud on historical operating profits is currently estimated to be £6m related to the first half of 2022, and £8m to £10m relating to prior years.
Rathbones was knocked lower by a downgrade to ‘underperform’ at Jefferies.
Vodafone edged down after saying it had entered into binding terms in relation to the sale of its Hungary unit to local IT company 4iG and state-owned Corvinus for €1.8bn.
On the upside, advertising giant WPP surged to the top of the FTSE 100 on news that activist investor Silchester has built a £500m stake in the company, making it the third-biggest shareholder.
Miners were also among the gainers amid China reopening hopes, with Glencore, Anglo American and Antofagasta all higher.
FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,694.13 -0.07%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 19,380.00 -0.64%
techMARK (TASX) 4,471.11 -0.73%
FTSE 100 - Risers
WPP (WPP) 886.40p 2.69%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,692.50p 2.27%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 734.20p 2.26%
Glencore (GLEN) 537.10p 2.13%
Shell (SHEL) 2,393.50p 1.85%
BP (BP.) 484.55p 1.57%
Croda International (CRDA) 6,680.00p 1.40%
CRH (CDI) (CRH) 3,612.00p 1.38%
Flutter Entertainment (CDI) (FLTR) 12,150.00p 1.29%
Spirax-Sarco Engineering (SPX) 10,975.00p 1.29%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Airtel Africa (AAF) 113.60p -3.97%
BAE Systems (BA.) 831.00p -3.12%
Beazley (BEZ) 665.00p -3.06%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 1,016.50p -3.01%
Severn Trent (SVT) 2,712.00p -2.87%
Centrica (CNA) 90.36p -2.31%
Fresnillo (FRES) 943.20p -2.26%
National Grid (NG.) 1,025.00p -1.87%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,291.50p -1.56%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 860.60p -1.47%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Harbour Energy (HBR) 306.90p 2.75%
Dechra Pharmaceuticals (DPH) 2,628.00p 2.66%
easyJet (EZJ) 382.00p 2.63%
Bytes Technology Group (BYIT) 394.60p 2.12%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 139.90p 1.71%
Bridgepoint Group (Reg S) (BPT) 201.20p 1.67%
TP Icap Group (TCAP) 180.00p 1.52%
Ascential (ASCL) 201.20p 1.51%
Templeton Emerging Markets Inv Trust (TEM) 154.80p 1.44%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 148.35p 1.33%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Keller Group (KLR) 762.00p -9.39%
Rathbones Group (RAT) 1,972.00p -4.96%
Drax Group (DRX) 619.00p -4.11%
Auction Technology Group (ATG) 759.00p -3.80%
UK Commercial Property Reit Limited (UKCM) 56.90p -3.72%
Balanced Commercial Property Trust Limited (BCPT) 86.50p -3.67%
Lancashire Holdings Limited (LRE) 631.00p -3.59%
PureTech Health (PRTC) 260.50p -3.52%
Telecom Plus (TEP) 1,992.00p -3.07%
BBGI Global Infrastructure S.A. NPV (DI) (BBGI) 155.20p -2.88%