London midday: Stocks edge higher after BoE strikes confident note

Thu 19 Dec 2019

LONDON (SHARECAST) - (Sharecast News) - London stocks were little changed on Thursday after the Bank of England stayed put on interest rates, saying that it still expected economic growth in Britain to pick up Brexit uncertainties eased and global growth staged a modest recovery.
At 1203 GMT, the FTSE 100 was 0.23% higher at 7,558.18, while the pound was up 0.26% against the US dollar at 1.3112 and 0.13% firmer versus the euro at 1.1783.

Rate-setters at the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street kept all their main policy settings unchanged with Bank Rate steady at 0.75%, as expected, and kept all options on the table.

"Monetary policy could respond in either direction to changes in the economic outlook in order to ensure a sustainable return of inflation to the 2% target," the Monetary Policy Committee said in a summary of its decision.

However, the MPC vote was a tad more hawkish than expected by some economists, who had anticipated that six of the MPC's nine members would vote for a cut in interest rates, up from two the last time around.

"All told, we still think that interest rates are much more likely to rise next year than to fall," said Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

"But as both the identity of the next Governor and the willingness of the PM to sacrifice the economy to achieve Brexit by his timetable are unknown, the outlook for monetary policy remains exceptionally cloudy."

Thursday's rate announcement came after The Times reported that hedge funds have been eavesdropping on the BoE's press conferences before they are officially broadcast, after its internal systems were hijacked. According to Reuters, the central bank had referred the misuse of its press conference audio feed to the Financial Conduct Authority.

Investors were also digesting news overnight that the House of Representatives voted to impeach US President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The process will now pass to the Senate, where 67 out of 100 votes are required to convict and remove Trump from office.

Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at, said: "It is a sign of the times when the impeachment of the president of the United States produces nothing but a shrug. By becoming only the third president in history to be impeached, Mr Trump joins a select club. Markets simply don't care.

"The Republican-controlled Senate will never abandon their president [...] The impeachment process has and remains so partisan that Mr Trump will not be removed from office."

On the trade front, China released another list earlier of US products that will be exempted in the first round of additional tariffs. The Ministry of Finance said the exemptions, which last until 25 December 2020, apply to six items, most of them chemical products.

There wasn't a whole lot happening on the corporate front as the pre-Christmas lull began to set in.

Royal Bank of Scotland was in focus after it parted company with the bosses of its investment bank as chief executive Alison Rose seeks to shake up the underperforming business. Chris Marks has stepped down as chief executive and chair of NatWest Markets and Richard Place has quit as the division's finance director.

Elsewhere, Crest Nicholson was higher as the housebuilder appointed Tom Nicholson as chief operating officer with effect from 1 January. Nicholson has held roles at Trafalgar House Group, Berkeley Group and Try Homes.

Shares of travel firm TUI were hit by a downgrade to 'hold' at Berenberg, while Weir was knocked lower by a downgrade to 'neutral' at Credit Suisse. Outsourcer Capita was in the red after a downgrade at Deutsche Bank.

United Utilities and Countryside Properties were down as their stock went ex-dividend.

Real estate investment trust GCP Student was under the cosh after saying it planned to raise 75m through a share placing in response to demand from various pension funds managed by APG Asset Management.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,559.05 0.24%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 21,662.22 0.00%
techMARK (TASX) 4,168.87 0.44%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Flutter Entertainment (FLTR) 9,078.00p 1.79%
British Land Company (BLND) 611.00p 1.36%
3i Group (III) 1,125.50p 1.26%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 201.50p 1.26%
Kingfisher (KGF) 218.10p 1.25%
Auto Trader Group (AUTO) 599.60p 1.25%
Imperial Brands (IMB) 1,839.60p 1.24%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 64.09p 1.15%
Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) 330.30p 1.13%
Rightmove (RMV) 642.00p 1.10%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

NMC Health (NMC) 1,529.50p -11.54%
Pearson (PSON) 628.60p -4.03%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 952.40p -2.60%
Fresnillo (FRES) 574.60p -1.81%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 2,152.00p -1.65%
Meggitt (MGGT) 633.40p -1.40%
Hiscox Limited (DI) (HSX) 1,382.00p -1.29%
Barclays (BARC) 183.00p -1.15%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,964.00p -1.13%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 943.20p -0.95%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Frasers Group (FRAS) 474.80p 5.70%
Hunting (HTG) 402.80p 3.87%
Crest Nicholson Holdings (CRST) 434.20p 3.14%
Stagecoach Group (SGC) 164.80p 2.68%
OneSavings Bank (OSB) 424.60p 2.12%
Hammerson (HMSO) 303.30p 1.95%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 382.00p 1.84%
888 Holdings (888) 157.60p 1.68%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 395.20p 1.44%
WH Smith (SMWH) 2,602.00p 1.40%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Capita (CPI) 170.15p -4.44%
Syncona Limited NPV (SYNC) 218.00p -3.11%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 546.80p -2.91%
Pennon Group (PNN) 1,023.50p -1.78%
Cineworld Group (CINE) 223.40p -1.76%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 116.35p -1.73%
PZ Cussons (PZC) 179.00p -1.54%
Weir Group (WEIR) 1,541.50p -1.47%
Electrocomponents (ECM) 660.00p -1.37%
Card Factory (CARD) 167.90p -1.12%
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