London open: Stocks rally as investors eye budget
London stocks rose in early trade on Wednesday as investors eyed chancellor Rishi Sunak’s budget, much of which has already been leaked.
At 0855 GMT, the FTSE 100 was up 1% at 6,678.83.
Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said: "Continuing March’s opening rebound, the European markets all started sharply higher this Wednesday morning.”
As far as the budget is concerned, he said: "The headline policies, from a market perspective at least, are set to be an extension of furlough until September, the extension of the stamp duty holiday, the return of 95% mortgages, and a chunky £5 billion in government grants to retail and hospitality businesses. This, alongside new forecasts for the UK economy.
"Interestingly the pound isn’t getting any of the pre-budget rub, instead sitting flat against the dollar while scraping together a 0.1% increase against the euro.
"Elsewhere it appears that, despite signs of a services slowdown in China, markets are just as content to climb as the FTSE. As the week goes on, however, that contentedness is going to be increasingly reliant on the reception Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan receives in the Senate."
Data out earlier showed that growth in China’s services sector eased to a 10-month low in February. The Caixin services purchasing managers’ index fell to 51.5 from 52 in January. This marked the lowest reading since April 2020.
In equity markets, Polymetal was the standout gainer on the FTSE 100 as the precious metals miner posted record full-year net earnings.
Persimmon was also in the black after the housebuilder said forward sales were 15% higher than a year ago as it reported an 18% decline in annual profit.
Software company Micro Focus surged to the top of the FTSE 250 after signing a commercial agreement with Amazon Web Services.
Waste management company Biffa pushed higher after lifting its full-year expectations.
Bunzl and OSB both gained after an upgrade to ‘buy’ at Peel Hunt, while Carnival cruised higher after an upgrade to ‘outperform’ at Macquarie.
On the downside, Hiscox slumped after the insurer said it swung to a full-year loss driven by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic as gross written premiums were held steady.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Polymetal International (POLY) 1,499.00p 4.17%
Bunzl (BNZL) 2,307.00p 2.58%
Compass Group (CPG) 1,564.00p 2.56%
Whitbread (WTB) 3,483.00p 2.26%
Intertek Group (ITRK) 5,494.00p 2.01%
Just Eat Takeaway.Com N.V. (CDI) (JET) 7,044.00p 1.91%
BHP Group (BHP) 2,400.50p 1.85%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,820.00p 1.79%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 827.40p 1.77%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,888.50p 1.75%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Kingfisher (KGF) 268.70p -0.41%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 2,179.00p -0.18%
Smith (DS) (SMDS) 402.30p -0.17%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 2,226.00p -0.09%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 677.80p 0.03%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 3,236.00p 0.03%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 1,389.50p 0.07%
Next (NXT) 7,484.00p 0.08%
Avast (AVST) 464.80p 0.13%
SEGRO (SGRO) 921.60p 0.17%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 496.10p 13.11%
Biffa (BIFF) 270.00p 5.26%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 1,999.50p 4.25%
OSB Group (OSB) 445.80p 3.82%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 214.00p 3.58%
Rank Group (RNK) 176.60p 3.52%
Fidelity China Special Situations (FCSS) 455.00p 3.41%
Carnival (CCL) 1,688.50p 3.37%
BlackRock World Mining Trust (BRWM) 609.00p 2.53%
Man Group (EMG) 161.00p 2.45%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Hiscox Limited (DI) (HSX) 893.40p -8.99%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 338.00p -1.97%
Rotork (ROR) 368.60p -1.18%
Indivior (INDV) 124.40p -1.03%
Provident Financial (PFG) 270.00p -0.95%
BMO Global Smaller Companies (BGSC) 145.60p -0.95%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 127.60p -0.85%
Unite Group (UTG) 970.50p -0.82%
Law Debenture Corp. (LWDB) 713.00p -0.56%
Calisen (CLSN) 259.20p -0.54%