London open: Stocks steady in calm trading session
London stocks were steady in early trade on Friday, with little in the way of corporate or economic news to provide direction.
At 0835 GMT, the FTSE 100 was flat at 7,468.40.
Sophie Lund-Yates, lead equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "The Thanksgiving holiday in the US and relatively muted slate of market news in the UK means the FTSE 100 is broadly expected to end the week on a calm note. That’s despite the ongoing concerns about consumer sentiment and economic growth.
"As we enter a traditionally quieter time of year, the next time we’re likely to see sharp share price moves is when we hear the Christmas trading updates from the retailers in January. This will give a clear indication of how conservative the UK consumer has become amid the challenging economic environment."
There wasn’t much happening on the corporate front, but energy utility SSE edged higher after saying it was selling a 25% stake in its electricity transmission network business to Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board for £1.46bn. The company said the deal would "unlock significant growth in both the transmission business and across the wider SSE group".
Elsewhere, Lloyds rose after an upgrade to ‘outperform’ from ‘underperform’ at RBC Capital Markets, which lifted its target price on the shares to 57p from 44p. RBC said it expects the market will start to reward Lloyds for better cost control and asset quality versus peers.
On the downside, housebuilders were under the cosh as Berenberg reiterated its cautious stance on the sector - initially outlined in September - with Taylor Wimpey, Persimmon, Barratt Developments, Redrow and Bellway all weaker.
"As a result of further declines in affordability, we lower our base-case forecasts for the UK housing market and cut profit before tax forecasts by circa 40%, on average," Berenberg said.
"Importantly, we do not expect the sector-wide trough in earnings to occur until 2024. Indeed, we do not yet believe that company valuations are attractive enough for us to turn more positive on the sector and we maintain just two 'buy' ratings, primarily for stock-specific reasons."
Outside the FTSE 350, investment bank finnCap tumbled after it said that takeover talks with peer Panmure Gordon had ended.
FTSE 100 - Risers
SSE (SSE) 1,742.50p 0.58%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 5,078.00p 0.55%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 46.18p 0.53%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,345.00p 0.53%
Imperial Brands (IMB) 2,111.00p 0.52%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 1,094.50p 0.51%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 10,976.00p 0.48%
BT Group (BT.A) 126.70p 0.44%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) 8,114.00p 0.42%
Diageo (DGE) 3,764.00p 0.40%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 102.15p -2.76%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 843.40p -2.32%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,300.00p -1.92%
Rightmove (RMV) 559.20p -1.83%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 651.80p -1.75%
British Land Company (BLND) 399.40p -1.63%
SEGRO (SGRO) 825.00p -1.46%
Harbour Energy (HBR) 309.40p -1.43%
Kingfisher (KGF) 246.00p -1.40%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 399.80p -1.33%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Discoverie Group (DSCV) 811.00p 4.11%
Virgin Money UK (VMUK) 175.75p 2.60%
IWG (IWG) 169.40p 2.51%
Paragon Banking Group (PAG) 475.00p 2.46%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 151.60p 2.43%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 70.40p 2.40%
Tritax Eurobox (GBP) (EBOX) 67.70p 1.80%
Vietnam Enterprise Investments (DI) (VEIL) 534.00p 1.52%
Impax Environmental Markets (IEM) 444.50p 1.02%
Murray International Trust (MYI) 1,348.00p 0.90%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
ASOS (ASC) 628.00p -5.56%
Dr. Martens (DOCS) 212.60p -3.97%
Man Group (EMG) 211.10p -3.21%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 159.05p -2.90%
Redrow (RDW) 454.80p -2.78%
Bridgepoint Group (Reg S) (BPT) 204.40p -2.76%
Moonpig Group (MOON) 164.50p -2.72%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 127.25p -2.49%
Bellway (BWY) 1,990.00p -2.40%
Great Portland Estates (GPE) 518.50p -2.26%