London open: Stocks edge lower as vaccine optimism fades
London stocks edged lower in early trade on Tuesday as vaccine optimism faded, with worries about rising Covid-19 cases and the impact of tighter restrictions continuing to play on investors' minds.
At 0850 GMT, the FTSE 100 was down 0.3% at 6,405.35.
Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said: "A ripple of tighter lockdown restrictions in Europe forced investors to consider the pandemic present rather than the vaccine future on Tuesday.
"It seems like the Moderna news doesn’t have quite the same legs as the initial Pfizer/BioNTech announcement, though the latter vaccine update did also have the benefit of coming in the swell of Biden election win gains.
"Nevertheless the markets losses were on the lower end of the spectrum, a barely perceptible retreat compared to the bounding growth of the last couple of weeks."
In equity markets, stocks that rose in the vaccine-fuelled rally gave back some gains, with Premier Inn owner Whitbread, caterer Compass Group and engine maker Rolls-Royce all down.
Budget airline easyJet flew lower after saying it swung to a massive £1.3bn annual loss, revealing the full extent of the havoc caused by the coronavirus pandemic as capacity almost halved. The pre-tax loss compares with a £430m profit a year ago.
On the upside, Intermediate Capital rallied as it posted a sharp rise in first-half profits amid strong demand for its funds and a recovery in portfolio valuations across the period.
Homeserve was also on the front foot after saying it expects to deliver group profit before tax and appreciation for FY21 slightly ahead of current consensus estimates.
Aggreko pushed higher as the temporary power provider said full-year profit is expected to be at the upper end of its previous guidance following some recovery in most of its markets, and set its profit guidance for 2021.
In broker note action, Avast was boosted by an upgrade to ‘buy’ at Citi, while Upper Crust owner SSP and WH Smith were both weaker after downgrades at Morgan Stanley and RBC Capital Markets, respectively.
Petrofac was knocked lower by a downgrade to ‘reduce’ at HSBC.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Intermediate Capital Group (ICP) 1,640.00p 4.73%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 2,248.00p 2.70%
Homeserve (HSV) 1,269.00p 2.59%
Avast (AVST) 449.40p 1.63%
Phoenix Group Holdings (PHNX) 774.40p 1.52%
Scottish Mortgage Inv Trust (SMT) 1,035.00p 1.17%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 151.90p 1.06%
Rentokil Initial (RTO) 527.40p 1.00%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,110.00p 0.95%
Just Eat Takeaway.Com N.V. (CDI) (JET) 8,200.00p 0.81%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Vodafone Group (VOD) 124.56p -2.52%
Whitbread (WTB) 3,003.00p -1.67%
Compass Group (CPG) 1,392.50p -1.66%
BT Group (BT.A) 125.45p -1.61%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 101.40p -1.55%
Land Securities Group (LAND) 698.40p -1.48%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 383.15p -1.45%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 2,241.00p -1.28%
BP (BP.) 247.90p -1.14%
Smiths Group (SMIN) 1,557.00p -1.11%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Aggreko (AGK) 601.00p 5.81%
Polypipe Group (PLP) 538.00p 4.06%
Cineworld Group (CINE) 51.48p 3.46%
TBC Bank Group (TBCG) 1,210.00p 3.42%
Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) 247.50p 2.70%
Big Yellow Group (BYG) 1,169.00p 2.36%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 71.85p 2.35%
Telecom Plus (TEP) 1,398.00p 2.34%
Capita (CPI) 39.97p 2.33%
Scottish Inv Trust (SCIN) 748.00p 2.19%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
SSP Group (SSPG) 348.20p -5.59%
WH Smith (SMWH) 1,408.00p -5.12%
Virgin Money UK (VMUK) 138.25p -2.61%
Wetherspoon (J.D.) (JDW) 1,067.00p -2.11%
AO World (AO.) 387.50p -1.90%
easyJet (EZJ) 763.40p -1.83%
Capital & Counties Properties (CAPC) 148.80p -1.59%
Shaftesbury (SHB) 592.00p -1.58%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 159.00p -1.58%
Trainline (TRN) 445.20p -1.55%