London open: Stocks edge lower ahead of mini budget
London stocks edged lower in early trade on Wednesday amid worries about a rise in coronavirus cases in the US and Australia, as investors eyed Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s mini budget.
At 0845 BST, the FTSE 100 was down 0.2% at 6,175.54.
Sunak is expected to announce a £2bn temporary job scheme for under-25s, a stamp duty holiday, a £3bn green investment package and a temporary VAT reduction.
Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said: "As the US reaches 3 million Covid-19 cases domestically, and Australia imposes a hard border between New South Wales and Victoria, investors couldn’t shake their re-lockdown concerns on Wednesday.
"It’s not the case numbers and return to stricter measures in and of themselves that are bothering investors, but rather the dampening effect they will have on the chances of a swift and sturdy global economic recovery.
"The UK index could have plenty more movement in it, given that today sees Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s summer statement, or ‘mini-budget’. Alongside the already-announced - or, rather, already-leaked - £1.57bn arts package, there are reports detailing a whole host of different options Sunak could unveil."
He said what is actually announced could dictate where the FTSE ends the day, though the pound may well steal some of the index’s thunder, having been boosted on Tuesday by news that the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost and Michel Barnier were having dinner at No.10 ahead of informal Brexit talks.
In equity markets, Asia-focused HSBC was the standout loser on the FTSE 100 following a report that the US could target Hong Kong’s currency peg with the dollar as a response to China’s new security law.
"Should the peg disappear it could further destabilise Hong Kong and increase currency impacts on earnings," said London Capital Group analyst Jasper Lawler.
Bus and rail operator FirstGroup slumped as it pulled guidance and said it swung to a full-year loss as coronavirus lockdowns in the UK and US hit operations. National Express was also in the red.
Victrex, a supplier of high-performance polymer solutions, was also trading down after it reported an 18% decline in third-quarter revenues and said Covid-related headwinds began to impact its performance in May and June after a broadly stable performance in April.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Avast (AVST) 550.50p 1.29%
BAE Systems (BA.) 495.40p 1.27%
Fresnillo (FRES) 896.00p 1.22%
Rentokil Initial (RTO) 524.20p 1.16%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,097.50p 1.06%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) 8,370.00p 0.99%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 2,025.00p 0.95%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 7,506.00p 0.91%
Spirax-Sarco Engineering (SPX) 10,110.00p 0.85%
Diageo (DGE) 2,751.50p 0.79%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 381.00p -3.58%
WPP (WPP) 604.80p -3.20%
Next (NXT) 4,673.00p -2.14%
Auto Trader Group (AUTO) 516.80p -2.01%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 433.90p -1.88%
Land Securities Group (LAND) 555.60p -1.84%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 216.60p -1.81%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 116.85p -1.77%
British Land Company (BLND) 381.20p -1.75%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 141.50p -1.74%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 371.60p 5.33%
Airtel Africa (AAF) 62.40p 2.63%
IP Group (IPO) 62.60p 1.79%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 186.35p 1.72%
Pagegroup (PAGE) 389.60p 1.56%
Fidelity China Special Situations (FCSS) 302.00p 1.34%
Contour Global (GLO) 202.50p 1.25%
TI Fluid Systems (TIFS) 182.20p 1.11%
Pantheon International (PIN) 2,025.00p 1.00%
Aberforth Smaller Companies Trust (ASL) 917.00p 0.99%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
FirstGroup (FGP) 44.00p -10.53%
Sirius Real Estate Ltd. (SRE) 77.00p -4.70%
National Express Group (NEX) 168.20p -4.70%
Frasers Group (FRAS) 302.80p -4.30%
Victrex plc (VCT) 1,910.00p -3.83%
Signature Aviation (SIG) 237.10p -3.50%
Vivo Energy (VVO) 76.00p -3.18%
WH Smith (SMWH) 1,010.00p -2.70%
Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) 167.60p -2.67%
easyJet (EZJ) 684.60p -2.62%