London midday: Stocks stay down but engineer Smiths Group bucks trend
London stocks were still lower by midday on Wednesday as investors sifted through updates from the likes of Marks & Spencer, ITV and Taylor Wimpey, and as results of the US mid-term elections rolled in.
The FTSE 100 was down 0.3% at 7,287.99.
Victoria Scholar, head of investment at Interactive Investor, said: "As the US midterm election results slowly drift in, it looks like the Democrats are doing better than expected, holding onto some key Senate seats with President Joe Biden avoiding an embarrassing Republican sweep. The Republicans are still likely to take control of the House while the battle for US Congress could go either way."
Market commentators said Thursday’s US inflation figures were more likely to impact financial markets than the mid-terms, as traders try to gauge when the Federal Reserve might pivot away from rate rises.
In equity markets, Wetherspoons slumped after the pub chain posted a rise in sales as it continues to recover from pandemic restrictions, but said it had seen a slight slowdown in October and highlighted "significantly higher" costs.
FirstGroup slid after first-half numbers missed expectations, while ITV retreated after the broadcaster reported a rise in sales for the first nine months of the year, as its production arm offset a fall in television advertising revenue.
Food and clothing retailer Marks & Spencer fell after saying it expected a material contraction in demand over the next 18 months as it reported a drop in interim profit, but backed its customers to be more resilient than market assumptions.
Aviva was trading down even as it posted a 10% rise in third-quarter gross written premiums and backed its dividend and capital returns guidance.
Vodafone was weaker after saying it had agreed a joint venture deal with infrastructure fund manager Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) and private equity firm KKR to hold its 81.7% stake in Vantage Towers, valuing the business at €16.2bn.
Taylor Wimpey edged lower as the housebuilder reported a fall in its sales rate alongside a spike in cancellations as the mounting cost-of-living crisis dented demand.
On the upside, engineer Smiths Group gained after it backed its full-year expectations and said growth had accelerated in the first quarter.
Flutter Entertainment was little changed as it boosted its forecasts for annual US revenues after a strong third quarter.
FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,287.99 -0.25%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 18,604.41 -0.50%
techMARK (TASX) 4,315.45 0.02%
FTSE 100 - Risers
Associated British Foods (ABF) 1,514.50p 3.88%
Smiths Group (SMIN) 1,603.50p 3.35%
Haleon (HLN) 285.35p 2.57%
RS Group (RS1) 897.50p 1.76%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,961.50p 1.66%
Auto Trader Group (AUTO) 554.80p 1.39%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) 7,890.00p 1.34%
BAE Systems (BA.) 797.00p 1.30%
Fresnillo (FRES) 817.40p 1.29%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 1,997.50p 1.19%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
BT Group (BT.A) 115.00p -2.09%
Aviva (AV.) 424.90p -2.07%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 689.20p -2.05%
Informa (INF) 561.20p -1.89%
Intermediate Capital Group (ICP) 1,133.00p -1.82%
Smith (DS) (SMDS) 296.80p -1.53%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 235.90p -1.50%
Shell (SHEL) 2,402.00p -1.48%
Whitbread (WTB) 2,530.00p -1.44%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 104.72p -1.43%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 61.20p 4.70%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 127.30p 2.58%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 143.65p 2.13%
Telecom Plus (TEP) 2,220.00p 2.07%
Syncona Limited NPV (SYNC) 182.40p 1.90%
Carnival (CCL) 706.80p 1.55%
Beazley (BEZ) 653.00p 1.32%
Bytes Technology Group (BYIT) 399.80p 1.16%
Trainline (TRN) 311.00p 1.11%
GCP Infrastructure Investments Ltd (GCP) 94.10p 1.07%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
FirstGroup (FGP) 98.50p -7.86%
Wetherspoon (J.D.) (JDW) 454.40p -6.92%
ITV (ITV) 69.06p -5.60%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 116.70p -3.95%
888 Holdings (DI) (888) 99.35p -3.82%
Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) 135.30p -3.63%
Essentra (ESNT) 225.00p -3.43%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 113.25p -3.25%
SSP Group (SSPG) 207.40p -2.86%
Molten Ventures (GROW) 376.20p -2.74%