London midday: Stocks little changed as pound hits eight-year low versus euro

Wed 23 Aug 2017

LONDON (SHARECAST) - (ShareCast News) - London equity markets were little changed by midday as advertising giant WPP took a tumble on the back of disappointing interim results, while the pound fell to an eight-year low against the euro.
The FTSE 100 was flat at 7,378.96, while the pound was 0.2% lower versus the dollar at 1.2797 and 0.4% softer against the euro at 1.0863, as the single currency got a boost from solid manufacturing data..

IHS Markit's flash eurozone composite index - which measures activity in both sectors - nudged up to 55.8 from 55.7 in July, beating expectations for a reading of 55.5.

Meanwhile, manufacturing activity grew at the fastest pace since April 2011. The manufacturing PMI rose to 57.4 from 56.6 the month before and ahead of expectations for a decline to 56.3. This helped to offset a drop in the services index to a seven-month low of 54.9 from 55.4 in July.

Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said weakness in the pound was also likely to be down to a renewed bout of Brexit bearishness.

"With little else going on in the UK, it seems investors have been left to speculate about the state of the Brexit negotiations, rarely a good thing for the health of the pound," he said.

In corporate news, shares in WPP tumbled after it reported slightly weaker than expected top and bottom line growth at the half year stage and cut its growth forecast for 2017.

Facilities management and construction services group Carillion fell sharply, with traders pointing to short selling of the stock.

Subprime lender Provident Financial was in the black, clawing back some small gains following a 66% plunge on Tuesday after it issued its second profit warning in two months, withdrew its dividend, announced the departure of its CEO and revealed an FCA investigation into Vanquis Bank.

Tesco gained ground after saying it will open a compensation scheme for eligible shareholders and bondholders who were misled by a trading statement in august 2014 that overstated the company's half-year profits.

Playtech edged up as it said it 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.

UAE-based NMC Health rallied after signing a new operations and maintenance contract for the management of Emirates Healthcare assets, comprising three brands and saying it expects full year earnings to be towards the top end of the current guidance range.

Hansteen advanced as the industrial property investor reported a 186% jump in first-half profit following the sale of its German and Dutch portfolio.

Vedanta Resources was in the black after it said first-quarter earnings and revenue were "significantly higher" on the back of higher commodity prices and volumes, while Meggitt was boosted by an upgrade to 'buy' at Jefferies.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,378.96 -0.04%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 19,778.89 0.14%
techMARK (TASX) 3,400.04 0.42%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Tesco (TSCO) 188.05p 2.09%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,564.00p 1.56%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 252.60p 1.41%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 4,493.50p 1.34%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 323.30p 1.28%
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) 1,520.50p 1.10%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 984.00p 1.08%
Mediclinic International (MDC) 738.00p 0.96%
Provident Financial (PFG) 594.50p 0.85%
Worldpay Group (WPG) 429.00p 0.80%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

WPP (WPP) 1,420.00p -10.92%
Pearson (PSON) 613.00p -1.37%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 608.00p -1.30%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,277.00p -1.24%
Paddy Power Betfair (PPB) 7,110.00p -1.18%
Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) 431.90p -1.14%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 656.00p -1.13%
Merlin Entertainments (MERL) 461.30p -1.05%
Whitbread (WTB) 3,814.00p -0.96%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 194.40p -0.92%

FTSE 250 - Risers

NMC Health (NMC) 2,528.00p 4.46%
Evraz (EVR) 281.30p 3.80%
Meggitt (MGGT) 515.50p 3.62%
Fisher (James) & Sons (FSJ) 1,555.00p 3.19%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,221.00p 2.78%
TBC Bank Group (TBCG) 1,599.00p 2.63%
Vesuvius (VSVS) 570.50p 2.61%
Acacia Mining (ACA) 200.20p 2.46%
Hansteen Holdings (HSTN) 129.90p 2.44%
OneSavings Bank (OSB) 395.00p 2.33%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Carillion (CLLN) 42.65p -11.22%
Greencore Group (GNC) 212.80p -2.52%
Auto Trader Group (AUTO) 349.40p -1.80%
Capital & Counties Properties (CAPC) 264.90p -1.71%
Redefine International (RDI) 38.64p -1.63%
Balfour Beatty (BBY) 275.30p -1.33%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 286.20p -1.31%
Hays (HAS) 170.50p -1.27%
Serco Group (SRP) 107.50p -1.19%
Softcat (SCT) 400.00p -1.16%
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