London open: Stocks edge up ahead of retail sales

Fri 17 Jan 2020

LONDON (SHARECAST) - (Sharecast News) - London stocks edged higher in early trade on Friday following fresh highs on Wall Street as investors mulled the latest data slew out of China and eyed the release of UK retail sales figures.
At 0830 GMT, the FTSE 100 was up 0.3% at 7,631.36.

Market participants were digesting data out of China earlier, which showed that the economy grew in 2019 at the slowest pace in nearly 30 years. However, there were some bright spots, as December industrial production, retail sales and fixed asset investment figures all beat market expectations.

Oanda analyst Craig Erlam said: "The phase one trade deal with the US has partially lifted the cloud of uncertainty hanging over the economy, although numerous tariffs remain in place. If these numbers are anything to go by, 2020 could be a far more productive year for the world's second largest economy."

On home shores, retail sales figures for December are due at 0930 GMT.

"Today's December UK retail sales numbers could well tip the scales back away from that rate cut speculation if we see a strong recovery after the 0.6% decline seen in November," said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson. "One of the characteristics of the recent November data has been how weak some of it has been, however given the political uncertainty ahead of the December election it is perhaps not surprising that business and consumers held back. Expectations are for consumers to have unlocked the purse strings in the wake of last month's landslide Conservative win and for there to be a rebound of 0.5%.

"If we get a strong rebound then maybe some of the rate cut speculation of the last few days may well diminish."

In equity markets, UAE healthcare operator NMC Health was a high riser after saying it had appointed a former US federal judge and FBI director to look into allegations made against it by US research firm Muddy Waters.

Rio Tinto rose even as it reported a 3% fall in iron ore shipments in 2019 as a cyclone and a fire at a port facility disrupted operations. Iron ore shipped from Australia's Pilbara region in 2019 was 327.4m tonnes, inside its forecast of 320m - 330m, the company said.

Ashtead and British Land were boosted by upgrades at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, respectively.

On the downside, Hastings was sharply lower after the insurer warned on profits and said it would cut its dividend following elevated claims costs in the fourth quarter. The company also pointed to higher repair and third party credit hire costs, slightly higher winter frequencies than the prior year, and a small number of larger bodily injury losses.

Fellow insurer Admiral followed suit.

GVC Holdings retreated even as it said that full-year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were set to be towards the top end of the upgraded third-quarter guidance of 670m to 680m.

TUI was in the red after an initiation at 'sell' at Goldman Sachs, while Premier Inn owner Whitbread was weaker after a downgrade to 'underperform' at Bernstein.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,631.36 0.28%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 21,743.84 0.10%
techMARK (TASX) 4,252.85 0.43%

FTSE 100 - Risers

NMC Health (NMC) 1,507.50p 4.58%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 664.00p 4.01%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 2,503.00p 3.05%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 874.00p 1.98%
Aveva Group (AVV) 5,050.00p 1.94%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,819.00p 1.62%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 2,895.00p 1.54%
Glencore (GLEN) 245.45p 1.40%
British Land Company (BLND) 592.00p 1.37%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 4,588.50p 1.37%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Admiral Group (ADM) 2,263.00p -2.62%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 885.40p -0.63%
BP (BP.) 495.05p -0.56%
Whitbread (WTB) 4,562.00p -0.55%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 697.80p -0.54%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,650.00p -0.41%
Unilever (ULVR) 4,337.50p -0.38%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 2,264.50p -0.37%
Imperial Brands (IMB) 2,026.00p -0.37%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 2,247.00p -0.35%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Cairn Energy (CNE) 201.20p 2.50%
Investec (INVP) 443.00p 2.33%
Vesuvius (VSVS) 460.60p 1.59%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 174.90p 1.57%
TP ICAP (TCAP) 406.00p 1.55%
Weir Group (WEIR) 1,475.50p 1.48%
Kaz Minerals (KAZ) 558.20p 1.38%
Pagegroup (PAGE) 489.60p 1.37%
Spirent Communications (SPT) 229.00p 1.33%
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 1,130.00p 1.31%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Contour Global (GLO) 194.60p -3.42%
Brewin Dolphin Holdings (BRW) 351.60p -2.55%
Genus (GNS) 3,008.00p -2.53%
Safestore Holdings (SAFE) 752.50p -2.53%
GVC Holdings (GVC) 911.00p -2.44%
Coats Group (COA) 76.40p -2.30%
AJ Bell (AJB) 395.00p -2.23%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 150.00p -2.18%
Kainos Group (KNOS) 812.00p -2.17%
Senior (SNR) 168.60p -1.92%
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