London midday: Stocks nudge up in muted reaction to Pfizer news
London stocks had ticked a little higher by midday on Wednesday as investors mulled UK inflation data and the latest news on the Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.
Further data from their ongoing phase three trial has shown the vaccine protects 94% of adults over the age of 65 and works equally well in people of all races and ethnicities. The companies have said they will now apply for authorisation for emergency use of the jab in the US.
The news did not prompt any big moves in equity markets, with the FTSE 100 showing a muted reaction, up just 0.1% at 6,373.62.
Stocks surged last week when Pfizer announced the vaccine was 90% effective, while on Monday, markets were boosted by news that Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine was almost 95% effective.
Investors were also mulling over the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, which showed inflation edged higher in October as the price of clothing rose.
Consumer price inflation rose to 0.7% in October from 0.5% in September. Economists had been expecting 0.6% growth. Meanwhile, core inflation increased to 1.5% from 1.3%, versus expectations for no change.
The largest upward contribution came from clothing and footwear, the ONS said. Clothing prices rose by 2.8% between September and October, mostly due to a rise in the price of womenswear, compared with a 0.9% increase between the same two months a year ago.
Meanwhile, food prices increased 0.1% compared with a 0.6% decline between the same two months a year ago, with the move higher driven mainly by vegetables and fruit.
Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said consumer price inflation looks set to hover close to 0.7% until April, when the energy component will no longer depress the headline rate and some restaurants, hotels and leisure providers will raise prices in response to the return of VAT to its usual 20% rate.
In equity markets, B&Q owner Kingfisher was the standout gainer on the FTSE 100 ahead of its third-quarter update on Thursday.
RSA Insurance surged after agreeing to be bought for £7.2bn by a consortium comprising Intact Corp of Canada and Denmark’s Tryg A/S.
Energy supplier SSE was also up as it reported a fall in adjusted operating profit after taking a £115m hit from the coronavirus pandemic, but maintained its interim dividend payout.
Micro Focus surged after a well-received trading update, while Virgin Money was boosted by a double-upgrade to ‘overweight’ at Barclays.
On the downside, British Land lost ground as it posted a decline in underlying half-year profit as the value of its retail assets fell by nearly 15%. The company also warned that due to concerns about Brexit and Covid-19, office leasing volumes will be lower as customers defer long-term decisions. Peer Shaftesbury was also in the red.
Spirax-Sarco Engineering was weaker despite backing its full-year expectations and reporting an improvement in third-quarter trading.
Investment platform Hargreaves Lansdown fell after co-founder Stephen Lansdown sold 6.7m shares in the company at 1,535p each, which is a 5% discount to the closing share price on Tuesday.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Kingfisher (KGF) 303.30p 4.84%
SSE (SSE) 1,407.50p 4.41%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 672.60p 3.96%
Aveva Group (AVV) 4,216.00p 2.58%
Croda International (CRDA) 6,230.00p 2.40%
Avast (AVST) 453.80p 2.30%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,136.50p 2.25%
BT Group (BT.A) 128.90p 1.78%
B&M European Value Retail S.A. (DI) (BME) 506.00p 1.73%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) 8,072.00p 1.71%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
British Land Company (BLND) 488.10p -4.48%
Spirax-Sarco Engineering (SPX) 11,400.00p -4.32%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,556.50p -3.65%
BAE Systems (BA.) 482.90p -2.48%
Homeserve (HSV) 1,238.00p -2.29%
Compass Group (CPG) 1,360.50p -2.16%
Intertek Group (ITRK) 6,022.00p -1.63%
Smiths Group (SMIN) 1,519.50p -1.59%
Schroders (SDR) 2,985.00p -1.58%
DCC (DCC) 5,792.00p -1.46%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 346.40p 27.49%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 81.50p 7.38%
Indivior (INDV) 132.40p 5.92%
TBC Bank Group (TBCG) 1,302.00p 5.17%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 157.50p 4.44%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 425.10p 4.32%
Grafton Group Ut (GFTU) 839.00p 3.97%
Virgin Money UK (VMUK) 147.25p 3.92%
Vesuvius (VSVS) 478.60p 3.77%
Babcock International Group (BAB) 308.60p 3.14%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Shaftesbury (SHB) 530.00p -6.19%
SSP Group (SSPG) 327.00p -5.44%
Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) 228.50p -3.79%
Network International Holdings (NETW) 269.60p -3.78%
easyJet (EZJ) 737.60p -3.28%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 280.10p -3.25%
Pagegroup (PAGE) 441.40p -2.95%
National Express Group (NEX) 235.20p -2.89%
Carnival (CCL) 1,175.00p -2.85%
Clarkson (CKN) 2,580.00p -2.46%