London open: Stocks nudge up ahead of Biden inauguration; inflation in focus
London stocks nudged up in early trade on Wednesday ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration as US President, after incoming Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the US must "act big" on the next Covid relief package, and as investors mulled the latest UK inflation data.
At 0915 GMT, the FTSE 100 was up 0.2% at 6,722.80.
Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, said: "For now, as far as equity markets are concerned, it seems as though investors are shuffling the deck, rotating in and out of sectors ahead of the next big move for the broader market.
"Joe Biden will be inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States today. The end of the Trump era will be marked by a changing of the guard in Washington, but will we see much change on Wall Street and in corporate America? Some corners of the market may look rather different in four years' time."
On home shores, investors were digesting the latest data from the Office for National Statistics, which showed that inflation rose to 0.6% in December from 0.3% in November despite the closure of non-essential shops.
ONS deputy national statistician for Economic Statistics Jonathan Athow said: "Clothing prices put upward pressure on inflation in December, despite some evidence of continued discounting. Transport costs, including air, sea and coach fares, as well as petrol prices, rose as some travel restrictions eased during parts of the month.
"These were partially offset by falling food prices, most notably for vegetables and meat."
In equity markets, education publisher Pearson was the standout gainer on the FTSE 100 as it said sales and profit for the full year were in line with expectations despite the additional impact of Covid-19 in the fourth quarter.
Burberry rallied after it said sales fell in the third quarter as the impact of Covid-19 and fewer price cuts offset strong sales of full-price items boosted by its association with footballer Marcus Rashford.
Hochschild pushed higher as the miner lifted 2021 output guidance after full-year production came in at the upper end of forecasts, despite pandemic disruption.
Stationery retailer WH Smith gained after it reported better-than-expected Christmas trading despite burning through £15m to £20m in cash a month during the current Covid-19 lockdown.
Diploma was also up after hailing a strong start to the year, with improved trends in underlying trading across all of its three sectors in the first quarter.
On the downside, office space provider IWG fell as it said it plans to cut costs after its hoped-for 2021 recovery was hit by the latest round of lockdown measures.
Dixons Carphone was in the red even as it maintained full-year guidance and reported a sharp rise in electricals revenue over the Christmas period, driven by people buying televisions and computers during the coronavirus lockdown. The company also said mobile phone total revenue plunged 40% as its Carphone Warehouse stores were closed under Covid restrictions.
In broker note action, Wood Group was knocked lower by a downgrade to ‘underperform’ at Jefferies, while Royal Mail was boosted by an upgrade to ‘buy’ at Deutsche Bank.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Pearson (PSON) 727.60p 7.16%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,815.50p 4.46%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 2,819.00p 3.00%
Entain (ENT) 1,274.00p 2.33%
Polymetal International (POLY) 1,667.50p 1.83%
Persimmon (PSN) 2,763.00p 1.77%
Glencore (GLEN) 278.30p 1.66%
B&M European Value Retail S.A. (DI) (BME) 504.60p 1.63%
Evraz (EVR) 512.00p 1.63%
Smiths Group (SMIN) 1,520.50p 1.60%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Standard Chartered (STAN) 460.90p -3.29%
National Grid (NG.) 866.60p -1.39%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 406.45p -1.22%
Barclays (BARC) 145.32p -1.05%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 35.66p -0.94%
Avast (AVST) 535.50p -0.83%
Unilever (ULVR) 4,346.00p -0.80%
DCC (DCC) 5,742.00p -0.73%
BT Group (BT.A) 137.10p -0.72%
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) 1,400.80p -0.68%
FTSE 250 - Risers
WH Smith (SMWH) 1,658.00p 6.62%
Diploma (DPLM) 2,248.00p 5.44%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 204.00p 5.37%
Moneysupermarket.com Group (MONY) 273.00p 4.84%
Renishaw (RSW) 6,100.00p 4.45%
Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) 265.00p 3.92%
Royal Mail (RMG) 405.20p 3.87%
Trainline (TRN) 448.00p 3.85%
Watches of Switzerland Group (WOSG) 665.00p 3.10%
RHI Magnesita N.V. (DI) (RHIM) 3,882.00p 3.08%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 314.50p -4.38%
Elementis (ELM) 112.80p -3.51%
IWG (IWG) 323.80p -3.34%
AO World (AO.) 354.00p -2.07%
Dixons Carphone (DC.) 121.30p -1.70%
Drax Group (DRX) 378.40p -1.30%
Avon Rubber (AVON) 3,380.00p -1.17%
JPMorgan Japanese Inv Trust (JFJ) 720.00p -0.96%
Britvic (BVIC) 748.00p -0.93%
TBC Bank Group (TBCG) 1,290.00p -0.77%