London open: Stocks rise as Sino-US worries ease; attention turns to ECB
London stocks rose in early trade on Wednesday as worries about Sino-US trade relations eased and the focus shifted to this week's European Central Bank meeting amid expectations of a rate cut and further stimulus.
At 0845 BST the FTSE 100 was up 0.5% at 7,306.31, while the pound was flat against the dollar and the euro at 1.2350 and 1.1185, respectively.
Sentiment got a boost after China’s finance ministry moved to exempt 16 types of US products from its additional retaliatory tariffs.
Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said: "With bond yields starting to rise, the European markets were able to indulge in some solid optimism on Wednesday morning."
"However easy it is to by cynical about the shift in sentiment, the appearance of positive movement in regards to the US-China trade war ... and hopes of averting a no-deal Brexit on October 31st have seemingly been cause enough for Europe to start a session with a smile on its face. That and the potential for some ECB stimulus on Thursday, a goodbye kiss from the departing Mario Draghi."
Some analysts were sceptical, however. ING economist Iris Pang said that while the exemption could be seen as a gesture of sincerity towards the US ahead of negotiations in October, it is probably more a means of supporting the economy.
"There are still many uncertainties in the coming trade talks. An exemption list of just 16 items will not change China's stance. We believe that China will stand very firm in the negotiations, which will be similar to the last round of talks," she said. "Our house view is that the two countries are unlikely to reach a deal this year."
In London equity markets, JD Sports Fashion racked up strong gains for the second day running following well-received interim results on Monday.
AstraZeneca was on the front foot as Citi reiterated its 'buy' rating on the stock, which has been its preferred global pharma major for the last five years.
Hedge fund manager Man Group rose as it announced that president and executive director Jonathan Sorrell is stepping down to take on a new role outside the company.
Intu Properties was the standout gainer on the FTSE 250.
Independent retail analyst Nick Bubb said: "Given the focus on the embattled shopping centre group Intu Properties, after the Sunday Times story that Orion Capital is interested in the value of its flagship Trafford Centre asset, it is interesting that another struggling shopping centre company, Capital & Regional (which owns seven shopping centres) has announced today that the big South African property company Growthpoint is planning to take a majority stake in the company (which is capitalised at £120m)."
On the downside, Galliford Try was weaker as it posted a 27% drop in full-year pre-tax profit to £104.7m, a day after it announced that it was back in talks with Bovis Homes over the sale of its housebuilding arm.
Sports Direct was in the red ahead of its annual general meeting and following a Sky News report late on Tuesday that the retailer has asked the big four accountants to pitch for its audit contract. Sports Direct revealed last month that Grant Thornton had quit as its auditor following repeated delays to the company's results back in July.
FTSE 100 - Risers
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 707.20p 2.76%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 835.00p 2.53%
NMC Health (NMC) 3,005.00p 2.42%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 1,368.81p 2.38%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 450.70p 2.27%
Evraz (EVR) 512.20p 2.15%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 248.70p 2.05%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 156.50p 1.95%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 625.10p 1.87%
Phoenix Group Holdings (PHNX) 677.70p 1.83%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Just Eat (JE.) 701.20p -1.24%
Intertek Group (ITRK) 5,386.00p -0.92%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) 6,746.00p -0.85%
Compass Group (CPG) 1,973.50p -0.83%
BAE Systems (BA.) 564.80p -0.56%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 6,345.00p -0.53%
Unilever (ULVR) 4,929.50p -0.48%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 2,309.00p -0.43%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 1,877.00p -0.37%
Diageo (DGE) 3,319.50p -0.32%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Intu Properties (INTU) 43.00p 3.12%
IP Group (IPO) 64.70p 2.54%
Britvic (BVIC) 877.50p 2.39%
Hammerson (HMSO) 263.60p 2.37%
Drax Group (DRX) 287.40p 2.35%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 570.20p 2.11%
Provident Financial (PFG) 412.00p 2.06%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,329.00p 2.03%
TI Fluid Systems (TIFS) 178.40p 1.94%
Stagecoach Group (SGC) 127.10p 1.92%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
AJ Bell (AJB) 396.09p -2.80%
Network International Holdings (NETW) 539.00p -1.82%
Kainos Group (KNOS) 434.00p -1.36%
PureTech Health (PRTC) 272.24p -1.36%
Hilton Food Group (HFG) 976.65p -1.35%
Bakkavor Group (BAKK) 114.55p -1.25%
Barr (A.G.) (BAG) 555.00p -1.25%
Contour Global (GLO) 191.99p -1.04%
Pets at Home Group (PETS) 232.80p -1.02%
LondonMetric Property (LMP) 207.38p -0.96%