London midday: Stocks remain weaker, sterling rallies as BoE stands pat

Thu 30 Jan 2020

LONDON (SHARECAST) - (Sharecast News) - London stocks were still weaker by midday on Thursday as the pound rallied after the Bank of England left interest rates unchanged, with worries about the spread of the coronavirus denting risk appetite.
Just after midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.9% at 7,412.78 while the pound was up 0.4% against the dollar at 1.3077 as it emerged the Bank of England had voted 7-2 to stand pat on interest rates at 0.75%.

Robert Alster, head of investment services at Close Brothers Asset Management, said: "The economy towards the end of 2019 looked weak enough to make an interest rate cut look necessary, but early indicators in 2020 have allowed the MPC to demur. Business confidence is up in light of the decisive election result in December, and consumer sentiment shows signs of recovery.

"The March Budget will be key. We'll likely see promises of impressive fiscal stimulus, and the Bank will have a close eye on the data to see how businesses act in anticipation of life after the transition period."

More broadly, the mood continued to be undermined by concerns about the impact of the coronavirus, with more than 7,700 cases of the virus confirmed and the death toll rising to 170.

Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at, said: "Fears of a pandemic may be overegging the pudding, but there is again a clear risk off mood in the market. Cases and deaths rise, airlines are gutting their flight schedules and factories are extending holidays well into February."

In equity markets, cruise operator Carnival tumbled amid reports of two potential cases of coronavirus onboard a Costa Crociere ship docked at the Italian port of Civitavecchia. Costa Crociere is a unit of Carnival.

BT Group fell sharply as it said third-quarter results were "slightly below" its expectations, reporting a 3% decline in revenue and a 4% fall in core earnings. It also said that the government's decision to allow Huawei to have a limited role in the UK's 5G networks will cost BT an estimated 500m over the next five years.

Royal Dutch Shell was under pressure as it posted a sharp fall in fourth-quarter profit on the back of weaker oil and gas prices. Net income attributable to shareholders on a current cost of supplies (CCS) basis excluding identified items, came in at $2.9bn compared with a profit of $5.68bn a year earlier and $4.76bn in the third quarter. Full-year profit fell 23% to $16.5bn.

Avast suffered heavy losses after saying it had decided to terminate the provision of data to its data analytics business, Jumpshot, with immediate effect, but that this would have no financial impact on its FY19 results. A day earlier, the company said it was "reviewing all options" relating to the trend analytics business following reports earlier in the week that it had been selling users' web-browsing clicks.

Bucking the trend, St James's Place gained as it reported a 3.7% jump in funds under management in the three months to the end of December.

Unilever rose even as the consumer goods giant flagged up the threat from the coronavirus to its business as it warned annual sales growth would be at the low end of its target range.

Centamin shone after a well-received fourth-quarter update, while Kaz Minerals was up after a Q4 production report.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,412.78 -0.95%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 21,397.36 -0.33%
techMARK (TASX) 4,206.72 -1.00%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Unilever (ULVR) 4,536.00p 2.21%
St James's Place (STJ) 1,165.50p 2.10%
Polymetal International (POLY) 1,265.50p 1.65%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 218.00p 1.54%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 1,027.50p 1.28%
Phoenix Group Holdings (PHNX) 775.80p 0.87%
3i Group (III) 1,121.50p 0.85%
Next (NXT) 7,094.00p 0.77%
Whitbread (WTB) 4,505.00p 0.76%
Severn Trent (SVT) 2,607.00p 0.70%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Carnival (CCL) 3,011.00p -9.80%
BT Group (BT.A) 162.34p -7.41%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 2,060.00p -3.33%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 574.60p -2.94%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 2,067.00p -2.71%
WPP (WPP) 964.40p -2.49%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 151.90p -2.39%
Diageo (DGE) 3,038.00p -2.32%
Informa (INF) 776.40p -2.27%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 242.40p -2.14%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Centamin (DI) (CEY) 135.95p 5.67%
PureTech Health (PRTC) 304.00p 3.75%
Balfour Beatty (BBY) 265.60p 3.35%
Fresnillo (FRES) 636.80p 2.84%
TalkTalk Telecom Group (TALK) 114.40p 2.60%
Airtel Africa (AAF) 74.45p 2.55%
Network International Holdings (NETW) 588.00p 2.44%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 166.70p 2.40%
Kaz Minerals (KAZ) 470.40p 2.06%
Diploma (DPLM) 2,004.00p 1.73%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Avast (AVST) 409.80p -10.01%
Energean Oil & Gas (ENOG) 781.00p -3.58%
IG Group Holdings (IGG) 660.80p -3.31%
Paragon Banking Group (PAG) 511.50p -2.94%
UDG Healthcare Public Limited Company (UDG) 791.00p -2.83%
Wizz Air Holdings (WIZZ) 4,181.00p -2.81%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 378.60p -2.57%
Fidelity China Special Situations (FCSS) 225.00p -2.39%
Serco Group (SRP) 158.60p -2.34%
Hammerson (HMSO) 248.20p -2.28%
Archived Stories

01 Apr London midday: Stocks fall further after manufacturing data; banks slide
31 Mar London midday: Stocks up but off highs; Imperial Brands surges
30 Mar London midday: Stocks maintain losses but BP, Shell buck trend
27 Mar London midday: Stocks fall further; Boris Johnson tests positive for Covid-19
26 Mar London midday: Stocks in the red ahead of BoE, US jobless claims