London open: Stocks drop after Wall St selloff; EasyJet flies lower

Tue 20 Nov 2018

LONDON (SHARECAST) - (Sharecast News) - London stocks fell in early trade on Tuesday, taking their cue from a weak US session as investors continued to eye any Brexit-related developments.
At 0830 GMT, the FTSE 100 was down 0.5% at 6,969.62, nearing its worst level since the end of October, while the pound was up 0.2% against the dollar at 1.2873 and flat versus the euro at 1.1226.

Overnight, US stocks fell sharply, with the Dow down nearly 400 points and the Nasdaq 219 points lower as tech giants Apple, Amazon and Facebook slumped.

"An almost 4% slide in Apple and a selloff in semiconductor makers led the decline in tech stocks, pulling US indices lower," said London Capital Group analyst Jasper Lawler. "Concerns over iPhone demand and fears that chipmakers would be caught up in the US-China trade war weighed heavily on demand."

Lawler pointed out that traders were quick to jump out of Apple on reports that the company has slashed production orders in recent weeks for all three iPhone models that were unveiled in September.

"Investors had been nervous about the outlook for Apple and its flagship devices since the firm announced that it would no longer be reporting a breakdown of sales figures by product in its most recent earnings update. News of slashed production orders has just confirmed those fears, forcing investors to reassess Apple's outlook," he said.

On home shores, the focus was on politics as it appeared that the threshold of 48 letters needed to trigger a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Theresa May still had not been reached. May's new-look Cabinet meets at 0930 GMT with a debut from new Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay.

Shares in banks, life insurers and much of the wider financial services sector were in the red as Brexit worries were renewed, exacerbated as the Tory party was given a "shot across the bows" in parliament by the DUP as it withdrew its support from the government in votes over the finance bill on Monday evening. "We had to do something to show our displeasure," a DUP spokesman said, referring to the Northern Irish party's stance on May's Brexit deal.

"It rather looks like May is holding the line for now," said analyst Neil Wilson at, "but increasingly it looks like at some stage the dam will burst. It just doesn't look as though she can get the deal through Parliament. Noisy statements from France and Spain on fishing rights and Gibraltar will not help. GBPUSD should be on hold until we know more but as ever will be very sensitive to pos/neg news flow. DUP pressure on the Budget vote is a worry too for May. Will she and this deal last until Christmas? It looks unlikely."

Still to come on the data front, the CBI industrial trends survey for November is at 1100 GMT. Before that, market participants will watch out for Bank of England governor Mark Carney's appearance in front of the Treasury Committee at 1000 GMT, perhaps with some comments on the Brexit deal or no-deal consequences.

In corporate news, EasyJet flew lower even as it posted a 41% jump in profits in the past 12 months and said it sees potential for greater growth by expanding its holiday business. The budget airline reported headline profit before tax for year ending 30 September of 578m as revenues grew 17% to 5.9bn.

Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor, said EasyJet was getting caught up in the broader market decline. "For the most part, the numbers themselves are impressive," he said.

"However, it remains to be seen whether the update provides enough of a fillip to reverse what has been a turbulent time for the shares, which have fallen 8% over the last year, as compared to a 5.3% dip for the wider FTSE100, and have seen a significant 32% decline just over the last six months. The company itself has given an upbeat outlook for the new financial year and if the current operating performance can be maintained, the market consensus of the shares as a cautious buy may become subject to future upgrades."

Entertainment One suffered heavy losses even as the Peppa Pig parent's interim results met expectations.

Halma bucked the trend, however, sitting pretty at the top of the FTSE 100 as it posted record first-half results, with revenue and profit up amid good performances across its business sectors.

Contract caterer Compass Group followed close behind after it reported a rise in full-year operating profit and revenue thanks to "excellent" growth in North America and strong net new business in the UK.

Spectris surged after posting an 8% jump in like-for-like sales growth for the four months to the end of October and online trading platform Plus500 racked up health gains as it said it expects 2018 results to be ahead of market expectations.

In broker note action, Bodycote was initiated at 'outperform', IMI was started at 'sector perform', Melrose Industries was boosted to 'top pick' and Rotork was upgraded to 'outperform' at RBC Capital Markets. RBC also downgraded Smiths and Spirax Sarco to 'underperform', added Melrose and Vesuvius to its 'best ideas' list and started RHI Magnesita at 'outperform'.

BP was lifted to 'outperform' at Raymond James and JD Wetherspoon was rated new 'underweight'' at JPMorgan.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 6,969.62 -0.45%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 18,422.04 -0.64%
techMARK (TASX) 3,378.02 0.02%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Halma (HLMA) 1,363.00p 3.97%
Compass Group (CPG) 1,632.50p 2.83%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 174.65p 2.55%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 6,517.00p 0.77%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 6,217.74p 0.71%
Shire Plc (SHP) 4,630.00p 0.65%
Smurfit Kappa Group (SKG) 2,240.00p 0.63%
Severn Trent (SVT) 1,866.00p 0.62%
CRH (CRH) 2,151.00p 0.56%
Fresnillo (FRES) 897.00p 0.31%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Smiths Group (SMIN) 1,367.00p -3.43%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 1,757.50p -2.25%
Scottish Mortgage Inv Trust (SMT) 464.50p -2.21%
Royal Mail (RMG) 303.10p -1.81%
NMC Health (NMC) 3,470.00p -1.70%
St James's Place (STJ) 992.00p -1.64%
Schroders (SDR) 2,448.00p -1.61%
Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) 252.75p -1.60%
Prudential (PRU) 1,541.50p -1.60%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 588.00p -1.57%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Spectris (SXS) 2,257.00p 7.32%
Aveva Group (AVV) 2,784.00p 3.73%
Plus500 Ltd (DI) (PLUS) 1,330.09p 3.51%
Mediclinic International (MDC) 339.10p 2.20%
Rank Group (RNK) 155.80p 1.83%
IG Group Holdings (IGG) 612.00p 1.66%
Rotork (ROR) 285.50p 1.31%
Serco Group (SRP) 90.50p 1.17%
Pennon Group (PNN) 733.40p 0.85%
Provident Financial (PFG) 549.60p 0.84%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Entertainment One Limited (ETO) 364.33p -5.22%
Spirax-Sarco Engineering (SPX) 6,305.00p -4.40%
CYBG (CYBG) 237.80p -4.27%
Hilton Food Group (HFG) 900.00p -3.85%
Euromoney Institutional Investor (ERM) 1,206.54p -3.48%
Sophos Group (SOPH) 318.74p -2.53%
Cobham (COB) 97.52p -2.44%
Morgan Advanced Materials (MGAM) 259.90p -2.29%
Wetherspoon (J.D.) (JDW) 1,123.00p -2.26%
Weir Group (WEIR) 1,469.00p -2.20%
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