London open: Stocks edge higher, geopolitical and trade tensions exert drag
London equities are trading slightly in the green at the end of the week following a renewed push higher overnight on Wall Street.
Yet investor sentiment was wobbly early in the session after the Trump administration's decision to impose a ban on US residents and businesses from working with Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat starting 45 days from now.
The news out of Washington came amid concern over the US-China phase one trade deal as well negative 'markt chatter' regarding the new free trade deal recently inked with Mexico.
A mixed reading on Chinese foreign trade for July and hesitancy ahead of the all-important monthly US non-farm payrolls report due out later in the afternoon were also dragging on shares.
Against that backdrop, the top-flight index was adding three points or 0.05% to 6,029.69.
The year-on-year rate of growth in Chinese exports picked up from 0.5% for June to 7.2% in July (consensus: -0.5%) in US dollar terms, but that for imports slipped from 2.7% to -1.4% (consensus: 0.9%), trade customs revealed.
Despite the dip in imports, which is directly tied to domestic demand, Capital Economics's Martin Rasmussen judged that China's recovery was set to continue "in coming months" thanks to the stimulus put in place by Beijing and given the continued acceleration in credit growth.
The boost to exports from foreign demand for Covid-19-related equipment on the other hand was likely to fade, Rasmussen added.
On a positive note, house prices across the UK hit their highest mark in the history of the Halifax house price index in July, adding to the emerging view that the market is experiencing a surprising spike post lockdown.
House prices hit an average of £241,604 across the UK in July - up 1.6% month-on-month and 3.8% higher year-on-year as pent-up demand from lockdowns continues to be released into a largely open housing market, with a low supply of available homes also helping to exert upwards pressure on house prices. followed by July's non-farm payrolls numbers in the States at 1330 BST.
Monthly US non-farm payrolls data were scheduled for release in July, with the 'whisper' number at around 1.1m, according to Bloomberg.
Hargreaves beats on top line growth, AuA
Hargreaves Lansdown posted a much better than expected full-year performance, contributing to a hike in its dividend payout. Revenues over the year ending on 30 June grew by 15% to £550.9m (consensus: £531m), driving an 11% jump in underlying profits before tax to £339.5m. Assets under Administration meanwhile printed at £104bn (consensus: £102.6bn) thanks to better market performance.
Online real estate agency Rightmove posted a sharp fall in half-year profits and agency branches, reflecting the impact of the coronavirus lockdown as it reported a cautiously optimistic outlook from trading in July. Operating profit fell 43% to £61.7m on revenue of £98m, a fall of 34%. Membership numbers for agency branches and new home developments combined were 3.3% lower since the start of the year to 19,158. Broken down that revealed a 3.5% decline in agency branches together with a 2.1% fall in new homes developments.
TP ICAP reported an improvement in underlying revenue in its first half on Friday, to £990m for the six months ended 30 June, from £922m a year earlier. The FTSE 250 company said its operating profit was up marginally to £159m from £158m, while basic earnings per share were 19.9p, rising from 19.3p. It said a 5.6p per share interim dividend would be paid on 6 November, in line with the interim dividend last year.
Standard Life Aberdeen proposed an unchanged dividend as the investment manager reported a 30% drop in first-half profit and declining revenue. Adjusted pretax profit for the six months to the end of June fell to £195m from £280m as fee-based revenue dropped 13% to £706m. The company proposed an interim dividend of 7.3p a share - the same as a year earlier.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 2,369.00p 9.83%
Rightmove (RMV) 620.60p 7.41%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,895.50p 3.86%
Polymetal International (POLY) 2,049.00p 2.19%
St James's Place (STJ) 1,004.00p 2.12%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 2,248.00p 2.00%
Phoenix Group Holdings (PHNX) 721.20p 1.84%
Auto Trader Group (AUTO) 560.00p 1.78%
Aveva Group (AVV) 4,450.00p 1.74%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,493.00p 1.60%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 179.45p -3.57%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 246.50p -2.61%
BP (BP.) 289.15p -2.07%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 2,131.00p -1.89%
Barclays (BARC) 104.08p -1.66%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 27.76p -1.42%
Land Securities Group (LAND) 572.60p -1.24%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,300.50p -1.14%
Aviva (AV.) 294.40p -1.04%
British Land Company (BLND) 366.50p -0.95%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Spirent Communications (SPT) 291.00p 6.20%
PureTech Health (PRTC) 280.50p 5.65%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 67.90p 4.78%
FirstGroup (FGP) 38.46p 3.55%
Ascential (ASCL) 291.60p 3.04%
Dechra Pharmaceuticals (DPH) 3,174.00p 2.59%
Airtel Africa (AAF) 57.80p 2.48%
Essentra (ESNT) 306.20p 2.41%
Hill & Smith Holdings (HILS) 1,248.00p 2.30%
Aggreko (AGK) 418.40p 2.05%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
TP ICAP (TCAP) 307.40p -8.46%
Cineworld Group (CINE) 32.83p -6.87%
easyJet (EZJ) 562.40p -4.84%
Bank of Georgia Group (BGEO) 790.00p -4.70%
Provident Financial (PFG) 177.40p -4.11%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 201.20p -3.13%
Babcock International Group (BAB) 270.30p -3.12%
TBC Bank Group (TBCG) 795.00p -2.93%
Go-Ahead Group (GOG) 581.00p -2.84%
Carnival (CCL) 858.60p -2.76%