London open: Stocks nudge lower but oil majors rally
London stocks were just a touch weaker in early trade on Monday as investors looked ahead to what will be a busy week for corporate releases, with the appointment of a new Prime Minister due.
At 0840 BST, the FTSE 100 was down 0.1% at 7,519.06.
Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said: "At the start of a week that will almost certainly crown Boris Johnson as Prime Minister by Wednesday, and following a weekend full of headlines about rising tensions between Iran and the West, the markets would be forgiven for feeling a bit worse for wear.
"Instead European investors hit the snooze button, unwilling to get out of bed for what is looking like a pretty boring economic calendar this Monday.
"Having already unwound a chunk of last week’s rebound on Friday, the pound continued to trickle lower, opening down 0.2% against both the dollar and the euro. It will be interesting to watch how the currency performs this week. It is likely priced in that Johnson will win the Tory leadership contest; what is more uncertain is what happens next, with sterling potentially sensitive to the make-up of the former Mayor of London’s Cabinet."
In equity markets, Premier Inn owner Whitbread was on the back foot after saying it has completed a programme to return £2.5bn to shareholders following the sale of Costa Coffee to Coca-Coca last year.
British Gas owner Centrica was in the red following reports over the weekend that it's planning to slash its dividend for the second time in four years.
On the upside, oil majors BP and Shell gained amid heightened Middle East tensions, after Iran seized a British tanker last week.
JD Sports Fashion was boosted by an initiation at 'buy' at UBS, while Sainsbury was trading higher after an upgrade to 'overweight' at Barclays.
Embattled high street lender Metro Bank was trading higher as it confirmed it was in talks to sell a mortgage portfolio. Media reports over the weekend said Metro was in talks on a £500m deal to offload a mortgage portfolio back to a US hedge fund Cerberus Capital Management, from which it has bought more than £1bn of assets in recent years.
Fashion brand Ted Baker rallied after reports over the weekend that founder Ray Kelvin is considering plans to back a private-equity buyout of the company, four months after he quit following allegations of sexual harassment.
Information company Ascential rose as it said first-half pre-tax profit increased to £30.5m from £23.1m as revenue pushed up 25% to £236m. The company said it was trading in line with expectations for the full year, adding that it was confident of delivering its medium-term target to achieve double-digit growth.
In other broker note action, Aveva and Micro Focus were initiated at 'hold' by Jefferies, while Sophos was started at 'buy' by Jefferies but downgraded to 'neutral' at Citi.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Evraz (EVR) 657.20p 1.89%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 819.20p 1.89%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 209.70p 1.85%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,795.00p 1.84%
Smith (DS) (SMDS) 363.50p 1.76%
Glencore (GLEN) 276.55p 1.58%
Smurfit Kappa Group (SKG) 2,580.00p 1.49%
Fresnillo (FRES) 806.40p 1.46%
BP (BP.) 524.80p 1.37%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 208.90p 1.36%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
ITV (ITV) 107.60p -2.36%
Whitbread (WTB) 4,810.00p -1.88%
Aveva Group (AVV) 3,948.00p -1.35%
St James's Place (STJ) 1,084.00p -1.28%
Centrica (CNA) 89.18p -1.20%
Just Eat (JE.) 619.60p -1.05%
Carnival (CCL) 3,480.00p -0.91%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,066.00p -0.87%
BT Group (BT.A) 187.68p -0.69%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 6,538.00p -0.68%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Ted Baker (TED) 884.90p 5.60%
Amigo Holdings (AMGO) 166.20p 3.49%
Premier Oil (PMO) 80.28p 2.98%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 162.60p 2.78%
Hunting (HTG) 542.00p 2.75%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 204.60p 2.56%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 271.70p 2.49%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 212.20p 2.41%
Morgan Advanced Materials (MGAM) 261.16p 2.34%
Metro Bank (MTRO) 482.81p 2.25%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
RHI Magnesita N.V. (DI) (RHIM) 4,468.00p -2.06%
Entertainment One Limited (ETO) 440.13p -1.71%
Network International Holdings (NETW) 600.00p -1.64%
Savills (SVS) 892.91p -1.44%
Woodford Patient Capital Trust (WPCT) 53.31p -1.28%
AJ Bell (AJB) 419.00p -1.18%
Softcat (SCT) 927.50p -1.17%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,788.50p -1.13%
Close Brothers Group (CBG) 1,387.00p -0.93%
PZ Cussons (PZC) 215.00p -0.92%