London pre-open: Stocks seen lower as investors eye PMIs; WPP in focus

Wed 23 Aug 2017

LONDON (SHARECAST) - (ShareCast News) - London stocks were set for a slightly weaker open on Wednesday following gains in the previous session.
The FTSE 100 was expected to open 11 points lower at 7,370.

There are no major UK data releases due but Markit's eurozone manufacturing and services PMIs are at 0900 BST, while US manufacturing and services figures are at 1445 BST, with new home sales data at 1500 BST.

CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said: "Another day of strong gains in metals prices along with a recovering US dollar and diminishing concerns over geopolitical risks served to combine to return a day of strong gains for both European and US equity markets yesterday, with the Dow posting its best one day gain since April on chatter that the Trump administration might be able to make some progress on the thorny issue of tax reform.

"Sadly we've seen this movie quite a few times this year with the hope that US politicians may well be poised to move forward with a program of tax reform, and for those hopes to subsequently turn to dust.

"The focus today ahead of this week's Jackson Hole symposium will be the latest flash PMI's for August from Germany and France, as well as a speech by ECB President Mario Draghi in Germany, at 8am BST this morning, with investors looking for clues as to his thinking about what the European Central Bank might do with respect to the current bond buying program, as we head into year end."

In corporate news, WPP reported slightly weaker than expected top and bottom line growth at the half year stage. At 7.4bn for the latest six-month stretch, which was 13.3% ahead of the prior year period, the company fell slightly short of the consensus forecast for 7.5bn.

However, reported diluted earnings per share of 46.6p were better than the 45.7p that analysts had anticipated. The interim dividend payout was set at 22.7p, versus 22.0p expected.

United Arab Emirates-focussed integrated healthcare provider NMC Health has signed a new operations and maintenance contract for the management of Emirates Healthcare assets, comprising three brands.

The FTSE 250 company said the brands comprised Emirates Hospitals and Clinics, which provides general medical services across six Emirates in the UAE; CosmeSurge, which provided cosmetic medical services in the UAE with a single clinic in the UK; and Emirates Rehab and Homecare Services, which provides home nursing, rehabilitation, therapeutic care and home-based care, and is present in the UAE, Slovakia and Oman.

Playtech has agreed to buy technology, intellectual property and certain customer assets from ACM for up to $150m as it continues to enhance its financials division's B2B offering.

The company also said on Wednesday that its financials division will now be known as TradeTech Group to better reflect the full capabilities of the businesses within the division and align its brand recognition throughout the industry.
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