London open: Stocks steady as investors await fresh catalysts; Barclays in focus
(Sharecast News) - London stocks were little changed in early trade on Thursday as investors awaited fresh catalysts, with Barclays in the red despite better-than-expected results.
At 0830 GMT, the FTSE 100 was flat at 6,708.91, while sterling was 0.2% higher against the dollar at 1.3889.
Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said it seems the Dow Jones is becoming divorced from European indices, with the US index's "record high-hitting run failing to inspire the same energy in its continental peers".
"Without much data on the agenda - it's all saved for tomorrow, with UK retail sales and the flash PMIs for February - the European indices snoozed through their alarms," he said.
Campbell noted that since Monday's "over-eager gains", the FTSE has spent the week chipping away at that growth, though at present the bulk of its surge is still intact.
"Though tomorrow will be indicative of how the UK economy has held up under this latest set of restrictions, and therefore will impact the performance of the FTSE and pound, the next big moment for the pair is Monday, when the government reveals its road out of Lockdown 3.0. Until then, the FTSE may continue to drift," he said.
In equity markets, miners were the standout gainers, with Rio Tinto, Glencore, Antofagasta and Anglo American all higher as metals prices advanced.
Hochschild Mining surged despite reporting a decline in full-year earnings as Covid-related stoppages dented production and offset higher gold and silver prices.
Smith & Nephew lost ground after the medical technology business posted a fall in full-year profits as the pandemic forced the cancellation of elective procedures.
Barclays was in the red even after it reinstated its dividend and said it would buy back up to £700m of shares as the bank reported annual profit ahead of forecasts. The bank said it would pay an annual dividend of 1p per share and that including the buyback the shareholder payout would be 5p per share. Analysts had on average forecast a dividend of 3.5p per share.
Pre-tax profit for the year to the end of December fell 30% to £3.1bn from a year earlier as income rose 1% to £21.8bn. Analysts had on average expected £2.8bn annual profit.
Elsewhere, Imperial Brands and GlaxoSmithKline were both weaker as their stock went ex-dividend, while Lancashire Holdings was knocked lower by a downgrade to 'add' at Numis.
FTSE 100 (UKX) 6,708.91 -0.03%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 21,211.03 0.29%
techMARK (TASX) 4,116.76 -0.44%
FTSE 100 - Risers
Ashtead Group (AHT) 4,000.00p 3.31%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 6,378.00p 2.29%
Glencore (GLEN) 294.70p 2.26%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,744.00p 1.72%
Anglo American (AAL) 2,823.00p 1.57%
Fresnillo (FRES) 988.00p 1.54%
Evraz (EVR) 537.20p 1.51%
Avast (AVST) 496.40p 1.35%
Kingfisher (KGF) 279.10p 1.34%
Aviva (AV.) 366.20p 1.27%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 1,461.50p -6.76%
Imperial Brands (IMB) 1,444.50p -4.02%
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) 1,251.40p -1.96%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 100.40p -1.86%
BAE Systems (BA.) 473.80p -1.68%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 38.35p -1.48%
British Land Company (BLND) 464.70p -1.09%
Prudential (PRU) 1,384.50p -1.04%
Land Securities Group (LAND) 630.60p -0.88%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 2,372.00p -0.84%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 232.80p 6.01%
Paragon Banking Group (PAG) 468.20p 3.54%
Sabre Insurance Group (SBRE) 265.00p 2.71%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 342.60p 2.70%
Biffa (BIFF) 246.50p 2.07%
Helios Towers (HTWS) 171.40p 2.02%
Oxford Biomedica (OXB) 1,040.00p 1.96%
Morgan Sindall Group (MGNS) 1,508.00p 1.75%
BlackRock Smaller Companies Trust (BRSC) 1,770.00p 1.72%
RHI Magnesita N.V. (DI) (RHIM) 3,934.00p 1.65%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Indivior (INDV) 143.10p -3.96%
Safestore Holdings (SAFE) 798.50p -2.62%
GCP Student Living (DIGS) 150.00p -2.47%
Workspace Group (WKP) 729.00p -2.08%
Hammerson (HMSO) 21.45p -2.05%
Lancashire Holdings Limited (LRE) 637.50p -1.47%
Meggitt (MGGT) 407.30p -1.33%
St. Modwen Properties (SMP) 393.00p -1.26%
Herald Investment Trust (HRI) 2,390.00p -1.04%
Sirius Real Estate Ltd. (SRE) 90.80p -0.98%
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