London midday: Stocks struggle for direction but Rolls-Royce rallies
London stocks were a touch weaker by midday on Thursday, struggling for direction.
The FTSE 100 was down 0.2% at 7,016.12.
Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG, said: "It’s a good thing the UK has the Cummings/Johnson/Hancock saga to distract it from financial markets, which have once again turned into something of a snooze-fest.
"The expectation (and for some, hopes) that 2021 would prove to be as volatile as its predecessor have proven to be sorely-misplaced, and instead we have a market that, even by pre-Covid standards, is quite dull. The concerns of this year, namely modest rises in overall inflation (post-Covid spikes notwithstanding) and the frenetic debate over when central banks might or might not choose to nudge interest rates up by a smidgen, seem paltry by comparison to last year.
"Instead the market has been able to adjust to rising Treasury yields and the surge in commodity prices, and the continued drift higher in earnings and earnings forecasts has meant that valuation concerns continue to be pushed on to the back burner. This doesn’t make for much excitement, but it is at least a recognition that things are returning to normal."
In equity markets, Rolls-Royce was the top performer after Airbus said it was ramping up aircraft production as the aviation sector begins to recover. GKN owner Melrose and Meggitt were also trading higher.
Aviva gained as it said new life business premiums were flat year-on-year in the first quarter, with growth in Savings & Retirement and lower volumes of Annuities & Equity Release in a subdued market compared to a strong start in 2020.
Industrial software group Aveva was boosted by an upgrade to ‘overweight’ from ‘neutral’ at Barclays.
Ferrexpo was a high riser as iron prices bounced off recent lows.
Pets at Home advanced as it increased its final dividend by 10% and predicted a big jump in annual profit after reporting strong trading fuelled by people buying pets during the pandemic.
On the downside, Johnson Matthey fell as it reported a 22% decline in full-year pre-tax profit.
Water company United Utilities lost ground as it raised its dividend in line with its policy but reported a 21% drop in annual profit caused mainly by lower water bills.
Tate & Lyle was also in the red even as it posted a 6% rise in adjusted annual profits, driven by double-digit growth in its food and beverage division.
Gold miner Centamin lost its shine after an initiation at ‘sell’ by Liberum.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 106.98p 3.82%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,554.00p 3.26%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 168.75p 3.02%
Glencore (GLEN) 315.90p 2.73%
BHP Group (BHP) 2,137.00p 2.67%
Aviva (AV.) 409.10p 2.38%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 6,045.00p 2.22%
Anglo American (AAL) 3,135.50p 2.18%
British Land Company (BLND) 511.20p 2.12%
Aveva Group (AVV) 3,480.00p 1.87%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 3,009.00p -4.48%
Imperial Brands (IMB) 1,624.50p -2.96%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 167.55p -2.95%
Kingfisher (KGF) 357.00p -2.80%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 738.60p -2.61%
Severn Trent (SVT) 2,461.00p -2.57%
DCC (CDI) (DCC) 6,080.00p -1.94%
Berkeley Group Holdings (The) (BKG) 4,604.00p -1.88%
Sage Group (SGE) 660.80p -1.87%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) 7,404.00p -1.80%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Trainline (TRN) 287.00p 5.05%
Meggitt (MGGT) 504.60p 4.04%
Hammerson (HMSO) 38.34p 3.62%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 457.60p 3.34%
Capital & Counties Properties (CAPC) 174.10p 2.84%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 173.65p 2.63%
Shaftesbury (SHB) 624.00p 2.21%
Workspace Group (WKP) 879.00p 2.21%
Wizz Air Holdings (WIZZ) 4,796.00p 2.19%
Investec (INVP) 298.60p 2.19%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 113.60p -6.23%
Tate & Lyle (TATE) 772.40p -5.16%
Diversified Energy Company (DEC) 106.60p -3.27%
Softcat (SCT) 1,884.00p -2.33%
Diploma (DPLM) 2,954.00p -2.31%
Vivo Energy (VVO) 102.60p -2.29%
NCC Group (NCC) 301.00p -2.11%
Elementis (ELM) 155.60p -2.02%
Bytes Technology Group (BYIT) 500.50p -1.96%
Britvic (BVIC) 925.00p -1.86%