London open: Stocks fall amid earnings deluge
London stocks fell in early trade on Thursday as investors waded through a deluge of corporate news and mulled the latest policy announcement from the US Federal Reserve.
At 0900 BST, the FTSE 100 was down 0.7% at 6,091.66.
Overnight, the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged, as expected, and signalled that policy would be kept loose well into next year.
Oanda analyst Jeffrey Halley said: "The Federal Reserve did what it needed to, held rates steady and reiterated that any wobbles in growth and bond yields would be met with a wall of Fed money. Importantly, they also reassured markets that they would alleviate any shortages of off-shore US Dollars if necessary."
On home shores, meanwhile, market participants were sinking their teeth into a raft of corporate results.
Lloyds Bank was under the cosh after saying it increased its provision for bad debts by £2.4bn in the second quarter as it braced for a "significant deterioration" in the economic outlook amid the coronavirus pandemic and swung to a heavy first-half loss. That took impairment charges to £3.8bn in the first half, up from £579m in 2019, with the bank forecasting a full-year figure of between £4.5bn and £5.5bn.
Anglo American was also in the red after it cut its interim dividend and posted a 39% drop in underlying first-half earnings due to the pandemic.
Technology-led services and payments specialist Equiniti was weaker after it reported a decline in first-half earnings and revenue as its business took a hit from the Covid-19 crisis.
Car dealership Inchcape was under pressure after saying it would be cutting jobs globally as it swung to a first-half loss due to Covid shutdowns.
On the upside, BAE Systems was the standout gainer on the FTSE 100 after the arms maker said full-year profits would be lower due to the pandemic, but that it expected a good second half as it reinstated dividend payments.
Pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca was on the rise after its first-half numbers beat analysts’ expectations.
Pest control and hygiene services company Rentokil gained even as it said first-half adjusted pre-tax profit fell 11% as the temporary closure of some businesses due to lockdowns took its toll.
Private equity and venture capital firm 3i Group was trading up as it said net asset value grew in the year ended 30 June despite "significant economic and social disruption" caused by Covid-19.
Hastings rallied after it confirmed late on Wednesday that it had been approached by a consortium led by Finnish insurer Sampo and its biggest shareholder, Rand Merchant Investment Holdings, about a possible cash offer.
FTSE 100 - Risers
BAE Systems (BA.) 499.80p 4.80%
Rentokil Initial (RTO) 573.80p 4.63%
3i Group (III) 904.20p 2.26%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 8,799.00p 2.14%
Smurfit Kappa Group (SKG) 2,632.00p 1.23%
Whitbread (WTB) 2,296.00p 1.01%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 2,143.00p 0.70%
Rightmove (RMV) 569.60p 0.53%
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) 1,561.40p 0.49%
Flutter Entertainment (FLTR) 11,640.00p 0.47%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 26.56p -6.36%
NATWEST GROUP PLC ORD 100P (NWG) 107.10p -3.95%
Prudential (PRU) 1,130.50p -3.21%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 218.40p -2.89%
Evraz (EVR) 291.20p -2.87%
Barclays (BARC) 102.12p -2.76%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,228.00p -2.62%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,922.20p -2.61%
BT Group (BT.A) 109.05p -2.55%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 180.40p -2.28%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Ultra Electronics Holdings (ULE) 2,358.00p 7.77%
Impax Environmental Markets (IEM) 357.50p 3.92%
Hastings Group Holdings (HSTG) 207.60p 3.49%
Vesuvius (VSVS) 388.20p 2.27%
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 291.00p 2.18%
FirstGroup (FGP) 33.82p 2.11%
HarbourVest Global Private Equity Limited A Shs (HVPE) 1,586.00p 1.93%
Greencore Group (GNC) 127.10p 1.36%
LXI Reit (LXI) 108.60p 1.31%
Renishaw (RSW) 4,862.00p 1.17%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Equiniti Group (EQN) 126.60p -11.59%
Hammerson (HMSO) 61.50p -4.59%
Cineworld Group (CINE) 39.15p -4.58%
Virgin Money UK (VMUK) 94.44p -4.20%
OneSavings Bank (OSB) 241.00p -3.37%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 265.40p -3.35%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 54.20p -3.21%
Inchcape (INCH) 469.40p -3.02%
Kaz Minerals (KAZ) 541.60p -2.97%
Greggs (GRG) 1,289.00p -2.79%