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FTSE 100 closes firmly lower as traders get jumpy about US politics

FTSE 100 finished almost 76 points lower at 7,138, while the FTSE 250 lost over 254 points at 19,863.
rail
FTSE 100 closed in the red on Tuesday
  • FTSE 100 closes down 76 pts

  • Chancellor Spring Statement over and dull

  • Rex Tillerson replaced as Secretary of State in US

FTSE 100 closed in the red as global traders were put off by  political instability in the US  and after the UK Chancellor's spring statement.

FTSE 100 finished almost 76 points lower at 7,138, while the mid-cap FTSE 250 lost over 254 points at 19,863.

In the US, the Dow Jones is up around 25 points but both the Nasdaq and S&P 500 are lower.

David Madden, at CMC Markets, said: "Rex Tillerson has been replaced by Mike Pompeo as secretary of state.

"According to President Trump, it was their disagreement over Iran that triggered Mr Tillerson’s departure. There have been many changes to Trump’s administration and investors dislike the political unpredictability."

Earlier, US inflation data showed it continues to tick up and now stands at 2.2%, up from 2.1% in January. The Federal has a 2% target and that is why most traders are factoring in a rate hike this month.

Chancellor Philip Hammond claimed earlier that the UK economy had reached a turning point and there was "light at the end of the tunnel".

He told the Commons that growth was forecast to be 1.5% this year, up from 1.4% forecast in November, with the forecast for 2019 and 2020 unchanged at 1.3%.

3.50pm: Britain won't clear Brexit bill until 2064, says OBR

The UK will be paying its Brexit divorce bill until 2064, according to the OBR’s estimates.

The Treasury watchdog expects the settlement with the EU for Britain’s exit from the bloc will be £37.1bn, in line with Theresa May’s estimate.

The costs include £16.4bn towards the EU’s seven-year budget between 2019 and 2020, £18.2bn towards projects that have been signed off but not yet paid for between 2021 and the end of 2028, and £2.5bn over the next 45 years to cover ongoing expenses, such as the pensions of EU officials and MEPs.

The OBR reckons the UK will not make any net savings from leaving the EU until at least 2020 but even then it won’t be enough to recoup the cost involved in Brexit.

3.30pm: Dana boss meets with GKN shareholders 

Dana Inc (NYSE:DAN) chief executive James Kamsickas is reportedly meeting with top shareholders of GKN PLC (LON:GKN) in an effort to convince them to back the companies' proposed merger deal and reject a hostile bid by Melrose Industries (LON:MRO).

GKN on Friday agreed a US$6.1bn deal to merge its automotive business with that of Dana, a US frim that makes axles and driveshafts.

Melrose responded to the deal by raising its offer for GKN to £8.1bn on Monday from a previous bid of £7.4bn. GKN’s management has advised shareholders to vote against the offer.

Reuters reported that Kamsickas is now in the UK to discuss with shareholders the merits of Dana’s proposed deal with GKN.

He is expected to spend most of the week in Britain meeting GKN shareholders, a source told the newswire.

3.00pm: Spring Statement's real wages forecast 'most eye-catching'

The Spring Statement was light on sUBStance and notably low key, said Maike Currie, investment director for Fidelity International.

“Arguably, the most eye-catching announcement for our personal finances was the Chancellor’s prediction that real wage growth would turn positive in the first quarter of 2019, which has various implications for our personal finances,” Currie said.

“Despite a record number of people being in work, our wages have been increasing at a glacial pace. This has hurt hardworking households because our earnings have fallen behind inflation, which stood at 3%, according to latest CPI figures.”

Once real wages turn positive, this should support consumer spending and the UK economy, Currie added. 

2.30pm: Outrage as website for millennial railcard crashes

The launch of the 26-30 Railcard today did not go as planned with the website buckling due to high demand.

The railcard.co.uk website said the service was unavailable after thousands of applications scrambled to get their hands on the discount card for millennials.

The surge in demand is probably because just 10,000 cards have initially been made available on a first come, first served basis.

Tickets cost £30 a year and save a third off most rail fares.

Some applicants said that the process was “worse than getting a Glastonbury ticket”.

2.00pm: US stocks rise in early deals

US stocks are trading higher as traders digest inflation data and the departure of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 170 points to 25,347, the S&P 500 added 15 points to 2,789 and the Nasdaq increased 33 points to 7,622.

US inflation grew 0.2% in February – in line with expectations – after rising a seasonally adjusted 0.5% in January, the Labor Department said. 

The White House said Tillerson was being replaced by current director the Central Intelligence Agency, Mike Pompeo. 

1.50pm: Pound strengthens as new forecasts raise prospect for rate hike

The pound has strengthened in reaction to improved economic forecasts in the Spring Statement.

Sterling is up 0.42% versus the dollar to US$1.3965.

Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said the expectation that real wage growth will return this year has raised the prospect for higher interest rates.

However, Khalaf warned: "Despite the upbeat tone from the Chancellor, the UK is clearly out of favour as an investment destination for both domestic and overseas investors.

"In particular, retail investors continue to withdraw money from funds investing in UK shares, preferring international markets instead."

1.30pm: Nothing springs from Hammond’s statement

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond has delivered the first-ever Spring Statement, which proved as dull as expected, leaving the FTSE 100 index around 31 points lower at 7,183 as attention shifted to the US restart and the reaction to the shock departure of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics commented: “The Chancellor has kept his word and made very few policy changes in today’s Spring Statement, choosing instead to wait until the Autumn Budget to assess whether he can ease the fiscal consolidation.

“The OBR revised down its forecast for public borrowing to £45.2B, from £49.9B in November. This downward revision is smaller than most analysts expected and greatly exceeds the £38.5B figure implied by its year-to-date trend.

“The OBR must expect either big revisions to recent borrowing outturns, or several one-off boosts to borrowing in February and March, both of which are plausible.

“Meanwhile, the recent rise in gilt yields and expectations for Bank Rate has forced the OBR to revise up its forecast for annual debt interest payments by £2.4B on average. Accordingly, it revised down its forecast for borrowing in future years, by £3.1B on average, less than the £4.7B downward revision to borrowing this year.”

Tombs added: “For now, the Chancellor has banked this saving and allowed his ‘fiscal headroom’—his margin for error in meeting the fiscal mandate to reduce cyclically-adjusted borrowing below 2% of GDP (£44.8B) by 2020/21—to increase slightly to £15.2B, from £14.8B previously.

“Mr. Hammond, however, hinted that he will use this headroom to increase spending in  2019 and 2020. Nonetheless, the government’s long-term goal of running a budget surplus by the mid-2020s implies that the austerity programme still has several years left to run. In addition, the Chancellor’s decision to stick to his previous plans means that the fiscal consolidation will intensify in April, having been mild in 2017.

“Accordingly, tight fiscal policy will continue to constrain the MPC over the next year.

1.00pm: Tillerson exit unsettles

Just as things looked set for a positive start on Wall Street, US stock futures saw their earlier gains trimmed back by shock news that President Donald Trump is replacing his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Trump asked Tillerson to step aside last Friday, the Washington Post reported, adding that officials said Trump felt it was important to make the change as he prepares for talks with North Korea's leader.

On Twitter, Trump thanked Tillerson for his service and said Pompeo would do a "fantastic job."

As US stock futures retreated, the FTSE 100 index swung back towards earlier session lows of 7,175.85, off 30 points at about 7,184.

12.50pm: US inflation in-line

As traders in London focus on Chancellor’s Philip Hammond’s economic tub-thumping Spring Statement at lunchtime, there is also some interest on actions from across the pond as the latest US inflation numbers come in as expected.

Both the headline and core consumer price index rose by 0.2% in February helping US stock index futures to push modestly higher, indicating an early rally on Wall Street following yesterday’s 150 point-plus drop.

David Morrison, senior market strategist at GKFx.com, commented: “This should help to calm nerves following an unexpected jump in consumer prices in January.

“At the beginning of February US stock indices experienced their largest and most protracted sell-off since early 2016 after a jump in Average Hourly Earnings triggered inflationary fears which led to a spike in bond yields and volatility.“

He added: “Today’s data should help to take the pressure off equities and bonds – for the time being at least. Consequently, we shouldn’t be surprised to see US Treasury yields pull back and the major US stock indices continue their ascent, at least until we hear what the Fed’s FOMC has to say at next week’s meeting.“

The US data helped the FTSE 100 index come off its earlier session lows, but it still remained 20 points lower at 7,194.

12.00pm: London stocks retreat ahead of Spring Statement 

The FTSE 100 fell 17 points to 7,196 as investors awaited Chancellor Philip Hammond to deliver the Spring Statement.

The budget statement is expected to include revised economic forecasts and the public spending numbers but no major policy announcements.

“While the Chancellor might not have any surprises lined up, it appears that investors are unwilling to make any movements without getting a gauge of how the UK economy is holding up in the current pre-Brexit limbo,” said Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex.

Later in the US, the latest inflation figures will be released, with economists expecting the reading to fall to 0.2% month-on-month in February from 0.5% in January. The annual rate of inflation is forecast to rise to 2.2% from 2.1%.

“Today’s inflation release – while not being the Fed’s preferred measure – will offer some insight into the direction of travel for US prices at a time when the labour market is tight and tax reform is providing an additional stimulus,” said Oanda’s Craig Erlam.

“As we saw on Friday though, there may be more slack in the labour market than the central bank was factoring in and so traders and policy makers will be looking at wages and inflation data for clear signs that the data is confirming their forecasts.”

On the company front, GKN PLC (LON:GKN) shares jumped 3% to 437p after turning down a third takeover approach from Melrose Industries (LON:MRO).

Antofagasta PLC (LON:ANTO) gained 1.6% to 902p as it doubled its dividend for last year and reported a sharp rise in earnings.

Direct Line Insurance Group PLC (LON:DLG) shares dropped 2% to 384p after Deutsche Bank downgraded the stock to ‘hold’ from ‘buy’ and lowered its target price to 440p from 400p.

Legal & General Group PLC (LON:LGEN) edged down 1% to 260p after saying its investment arm has bought the 52.1% of Cala Homes which it did not previously own.

11.20am: Direct Line shares drop on broker downgrade

Direct Line Insurance Group PLC (LON:DLG) shares are down 2% to 384p after Deutsche Bank downgraded the stock to ‘hold’ from ‘buy’ and lowered its target price to 440p from 400p.

“We believe Direct Line is now entering a transitory phase where the capital management story is well understood by investors (hence reflected in the current share price), whereas the benefits of positive strategic initiatives may still be a couple of years away from showing tangible benefit,” the bank said.

“Also keeping in mind short-term headwinds from higher claims inflation in the home segment, the Nationwide deal running off and pricing uncertainty in the motor segment due to ‘whiplash reforms’, we downgrade our rating to hold.”

Going the other way, LondonMetric Property PLC (LON:LMP) shares received a boost after Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock to ‘equal weight’ from ‘underweight’ and raised its target price to 190p from 175p.

Shares in the company rose 1.6% to 186p.

11.00am: Britain is going to regret Brexit, says Juncker

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has warned that the UK will come to regret its decision to leave the European Union.

Addressing European Parliament, Juncker also said there was an "increasing urgency" to negotiate the UK's orderly withdrawal from the EU before the deadline of March 29, 2019. 

He repeated the EU’s stance that "cherry-picking is not going to be possible" in the future trade relationship between the UK and EU.

"I would rather have preferred Britain not to have decided to leave the European Union, but anyone who leaves the European Union has to know, frankly, what this means," he said.

"If you decide to jettison, leave behind, the common agreements and rules, then you have to accept that things cannot remain as they are."

Juncker urged Theresa May to give "more clarity on how the UK sees its future relationship with the EU" and called for further proposals on how to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland.

MEPs' Brexit representative, Guy Verhofstadt, said the UK and EU were "very near" to an agreement on citizens' rights after Brexit.

10.30am: GoPros, leggings and quiches added to CPI measure

The Office for National Statistics has updated its basket of goods used to calculate the rate of consumer price inflation in the UK.

The statistical authority has added quiches, women’s exercise leggings and GoPro action cameras but has taken out individual pork pies, nightclub lager and leg waxing sessions.

Other items added to the basket in 2018 are raspberries and pre-prepared mashed potato while peaches and nectarines have been removed.

The inflation basket is updated each year, based on annual surveys of households’ spending patterns.

“Every year we add new items to the basket to ensure that it reflects modern spending habits. We also update the weight each item has to ensure the overall inflation numbers reflect shoppers’ experiences of inflation,” said Philip Gooding of the ONS.

The consumer price inflation rate in January was 3%, well above the Bank of England’s 2% target, due to a weaker post-Brexit pound.

10.10am: OECD lifts UK economic growth forecast

Think-tank OECD has raised its growth forecast for the UK economy to 1.3% in 2018 from a previous estimate of 1.2%.

However, it said the UK economy will grow at a slower pace than other major advanced or emerging nations this year.

The world economy will this year grow at the fastest pace since 2011, supported by US tax cuts and spending in Germany, the OECD added.

9.50am: French Connection shares rally 

French Connection Group (LON:FCCN) shares are up more than 9% to 37p after narrowing its annual losses and saying it held talks with a potential US buyer last year.

The group narrowed its pre-tax loss to £2.3mln in 2017 from a £5.3mln loss the previous year as revenue grew 0.5% to £154mln.

The company said it had received an unsolicited approach about a potential offer from a third party in the US. However, this did not lead to a formal offer.  

Numis left its rating at ‘buy’, saying the results were ahead of its forecast.

“Progress was underpinned by improving trends across the business and was achieved despite a challenging backdrop in the UK,” the analyst said.

“In all, we believe that FY18 marked a year of good progress for French Connection, laying a firm foundation for the group to return to profitability in FY19 and to build thereafter.”

9.10am: GKN top riser on FTSE 100

GKN PLC (LON:GKN) is on the FTSE 100 leaderboard after rejecting a third takeover offer from Melrose Industries (LON:MRO).

Turnaround specialist Melrose raised its offer by £700mln to £8.1bn, or 467p a share.

But GKN said it “fundamentally undervalues" the automotive and aerospace parts business, adding that it is worth at least 500p a share. GKN claimed Melrose’s offer was worth 455p as the suitor had wrongly ­included the dividend and its shares had dropped, lowering the true value.

Melrose chairman, Chris Miller, told shareholders it was now time for them to decide on who they want to run the business as he attacked GKN's management for failing to deliver promised returns. 

8.45am: FTSE marks time ahead of Spring Statement 

The FTSE 100 was marking time ahead of the Spring Statement from Chancellor Philip Hammond.

The index of blue-chip shares was off five points at 7,210.19 on negligible early volume as traders opted to keep their powder dry.

Individual stock movements were similarly muted, although there were a few twitches of activity.

A cut to the price target on shares of insurer Direct Line (LON:DLG) by Deutsche Bank pushed the price 1.9% lower.

On the up again was stock in engineer GKN (LON:GKN), which edged 1.5% higher a day after suitor Melrose (LON:MRO) lodged a third bid.

Convenience food group Greencore (LON:GNC) cratered 19% after it sounded the earnings alarm.

Fevertree fails to fizz

Supporting the old stock market adage that it is often better to travel than arrive, shares in mixers specialist Fevertree (LON:FEVR) fell 5.5% after the release of interim results.

Neil Wilson, of EXT Capital, wondered if the glass is now looking half empty for what has been AIM’s stellar performer in recent years.

“The market has become rather accustomed to Fevertree beating expectations and upgrading guidance (January’s was the sixth in a year), so when results are just moderately ahead, things look a little flat,” he said.

“We note very strong results today of course, but the outlook for 2018 seems a less sparkling than we are used to, with management simply saying it is ‘encouraging’, which explains why we’re seeing a bout of profit-taking in early trade.”

It should be pointed out that had you bought Fevertree a year ago and sold today, the profit would be upwards of 60% on the initial investment. More to the point, £1,000 spent at IPO in 2014 is now worth £19,000 today. That’s not a bad return even if things are going a little flat.

Proactive news headlines:

HemoGenyx Pharmaceuticals PLC (LON:HEMO) has entered into a collaboration with a major US biotechnology company in a deal worth up to approximately US$250,000 for the UK firm. The UK biotechnology group said the collaboration follows on from the announcement made by the company on 26 February 2018, which confirmed the filing of a provisional patent application relating to its development of a new type of humanized mice with a chimeric mouse-human blood system.

Futura Medical PLC (LON:FUM), which is developing a gel that helps men with erectile dysfunction, has announced “encouraging” interim data from a pharmacokinetic study. The definitive results will be used to guide a phase III clinical assessments of MED2002.

Active Energy Group PLC (LON:AEG)  is to work with Polish group Cobant on a new "Super Fuel" combining CoalSwitch and reclaimed coal from slurry dumps in Upper Silesia. Pawel Woszczyk, Cobant’s chief executive, said the waste coal accumulated in the coal slurry waste dumps can become a valuable feedstock and a real alternative for the power industry in Poland.

Genedrive PLC announced that it has commenced commercial sales and shipments of its Genedrive HCV ID Kit, a qualitative molecular assay for HCV and Genedrive platform into EMEA region, with an initial focus on Africa. In addition, the AIM-listed firm revealed its first commercial sales and shipment of the HCV ID kit and platform are expected to commence in the Asia Pacific region in the coming weeks.

Interim results from Sareum Holdings PLC (LON:SAR) charted a period of significant progress for the cancer drug developer and its licence partner Sierra Oncology. Sareum said Sierra had made “strong progress” with the two clinical studies of its Checkpoint kinase 1, or Chk1 inhibitor, SRA737.

Medical services and software company Flying Brands Limited (LON:FBDU) has pulled the trigger on its proposed acquisition of Imaging Biometrics. The company is paying US$68,134 in cash and issuing 11mln shares to the vendor, though there is an option for Flying Brands to pay a cash equivalent of 4p a share in lieu of issuing shares.

Anglo Asian Mining PLC (LON:AAZ) is to initiate a three-year rolling exploration programme across its ground in Azerbaijan. The aim is to replace mined ounces, to boost resources, and to delineate new discoveries that can be quickly put into production.

Telit Communications PLC (LON:TCM) said trading in the first two months of 2018 were comfortably ahead of the same period of 2017. The Industrial Internet of Things specialist also revealed it has agreed a new and revised set of financial covenants with its main lender.

A booming personal loan book and strong sales of luxury second-hand watches and jewellery lifted pawnbroker H & T Group PLC (LON:HAT) last year. Group profits jumped 45% to £14.1mln in 2107, helped by a near doubling of personal lending to £18.3mln while impairment charges were also lower.

End user spend (EUS) on Bango PLC’s (LON:BGO) mobile payments platform more than doubled in 2017 and are on course to do again in 2018. EUS rose to £271.4mln in 2017 from £132.3mln in 2016 while revenue increased 62% to £4.2mln from £2.6mln, a shade ahead of the consensus forecast of £4.1mln.

NetScientific PLC (LON:NSCI) revealed that its portfolio company Vortex BioSciences has signed a collaboration deal with BioView Ltd, a provider of automated cell imaging and analysis solutions with the aim of providing clinicians with deeper insights into cancer biology. BioView is a publicly traded company on the Tel Aviv Stock exchange, and currently has strategic collaborations underway with international scientific leaders and institutions.

Atlantis Resources PLC (LON:ARL) expects to finalise the terms of its acquisition of the Uskmouth power station in Wales in the second quarter of 2018. When the terms have been agreed, Atlantis will convene an extraordinary general meeting to allow shareholders to vote on the deal, which, if approved, would see the company recommence trading as SIMEC Atlantis Energy.

Greatland Gold PLC (LON:GGP) reported on what it saw as a period of operational progress across key projects. The company, in its interim results statement, highlighted that it had successful exploration campaigns at the Ernest Giles, Paterson and Panorama projects. It noted that it is well financed with £4.5mln of cash and equivalents at the end of December.

Scotgold Resources Ltd (LON:SGZ) turned in a net loss of A$769,000 for the six months to December 2017. The company had net cash of around A$4.5mln, which is around a third of the money it will need to put the Cononish gold mine into production. That process is now underway, as long-lead items are now being ordered following the granting of permission to mine earlier this month, and the company is now actively out seeking the remainder of the required funding.

Alba Mineral Resources PLC (LON:ALBA) has incorporated recently shot aerial photography into its understanding of the Thule Black Sands project in Greenland. The data has been compiled by GEUS, the geological survey of Greenland and Denmark, and will be used to aid sedimentary mapping and the determination of any future resource estimates.

OPG Power Ventures Plc (LON:OPG) has highlighted a 23% increase in power generation during its third quarter. The company said that the 1.3bn units in the three-month period was its “highest ever” to date, whilst reporting the production of some 3.7bn units for the cumulative nine-month period (representing a 9% improvement from the comparative period of the preceding year).

Mporium Group PLC (LON:MPM), the technology firm delivering event-driven marketing, has announced the appointment of Glyn Shadwell as its chief operating officer, a non-board role, with immediate effect. The group said Shadwell has over 20 years' experience in the marketing sector and was most recently Head of Strategy & Client Partnerships at Quantcast, a global technology company that specialises in AI-driven advertising and real-time audience measurement.

6.45am: Weak start predicted 

The Footsie is seen starting weaker on Tuesday tracking overnight falls from US blue chips and Asian markets and reflecting underlying caution ahead of the first-ever Spring Statement from UK Chancellor Philip Hammond.

Spread betting firm IG expects the FTSE 100 index to open around 10 points lower at 7,204, having shed almost 10 points as well on Thursday.

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones dropped 157 points to close at 25,178, retreating following gains last Friday after a strong February US jobs report, with investors focused on the latest US inflation numbers due today.

The broader S&P index also retreated in New York, affected too by trade war concerns after President Trump signed tariffs into law last week, although the tech-laden Nasdaq composite managed to find gains.

Asian markets saw their recent rally stall today, with Japan's Nikkei 225 losing 0.2% amid concerns over the likely impact of Trump's tariff moves.

Sterling slightly lower

On currency markets, the pound was modestly lower versus the dollar and the euro awaiting the Chancellor’s pronouncements at midday.

Hammond is expected to keep austerity alive in the Spring Statement – with the actual Budget now pushed back to November - amid an uncertain economic outlook.

The brief statement, however, is expected to reveal a brighter short-term outlook from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) and an improvement in public finances, with the Chancellor aiming to eliminate the budget deficit by the mid-2020s.

In November, the OBR estimated that public sector net borrowing would rise by £4.2bn year-on-year to £49.9bn in the 2017/18 financial year. But the Resolution Foundation said the deficit for 2017/18 is expected to be £7bn to £11bn lower than the OBR’s estimate.

Resource stocks in focus

On the corporate front, fourth-quarter numbers from blue-chip miner Antofagasta PLC (LON:ANTO) are expected to illustrate the exceptional 2017 for commodity firms as they clean up their balance sheets and reduce costs.

In a preview, Graham Spooner, investment research analyst at The Share Centre said: “With overall production improvements and higher average commodity prices, investors should expect strong sales growth compared to the previous year and a significant improvement in overall profitability.”

He added: “Key to the future will be whether the new mines and assets offset the declining grades of ore at some older mines.”

Staying with commodity stocks, like Premier Oil PLC (LON:PMO) last week, attention in Cairn Energy PLC’s (LON:CNE) full-year numbers will be on new field start-up and cash flow growth.

Premier reassured on the jointly-owned Catcher field – in which Cairn has a 20% stake – so the focus will be on the Kraken field.

In terms of the financial results, UBS analyst Amy Wong expects earnings (EBITDAX) of US$10mln, an operating loss of US$127mln and a net loss of US$90mln.

Fevertree to show fizz?

Meanwhile, Fevertree Drinks PLC (LON:FEVR) said in a trading update in January that a strong festive period meant its full-year results – also due on Tuesday - will be "comfortably above" expectations.

The AIM-listed firm said then it had enjoyed another year of strong revenue growth, with sales for the 12 months to December 31 expected to be around £169mln – 66% higher than the £102.2mln it generated in 2016.

The mixer drinks firm noted that the UK was once again the star performer, with sales in the company’s home market doubling over the year, while European sales were not quite as strong but still rose 42% year-on-year, and US sales were projected to be up 39%.

Significant events expected on Tuesday March 13:

UK Spring Statement (midday)

Finals: Antofagasta PLC (LON:ANTO), Applegreen PLC (LON:APGM), Bango PLC (LON:BGO), Brady PLC (LON:BRY), Cairn Energy PLC (LON:CNE), Computacenter PLC (LON:CCC), Crossrider PLC (LON:CROS), French Connection Group PLC (LON:FCCN), Fevertree Drinks PLC (LON:FEVR), Gresham Technologies PLC (LON:GHT), Glenveagh Properties PLC (LON:GLV), Goals Soccer Centres PLC (LON:GOAL), H&T GROUP PLC (LON:HAT), LMS Capital PLC (LON:LMS), Midwich Group PLC (LON:MIDW), John Menzies PLC (LON:MNZS), Restore PLC (LON:RST), Stadium Group PLC (LON:SDM), Smart Metering Services PLC (LON:SMS), Surgical Innovations PLC (SUN), TP ICAP PLC (LON:TCAP), XLMedia PLC (LON:XLM), Zotefoams PLC (LON:ZTF)

Interims: Close Brothers Group PLC (LON:CBG), Eagle Eye Solutions Group PLC

Economic data: US consumer price index

Around the markets:

  • Sterling: US$1.3890, down 0.1%
  • Gold: US$1,319.40 an ounce, unchanged
  • Brent crude: US$61.32 a barrel, down 0.1%

City Headlines:

  • Legal & General launches £600mln takeover of housebuilder Cala – City AM
  • Aviva attacked over plans to cancel £450mln preference shares – The Times
  • GKN pension trustees say Melrose offer fails to address key concerns – Financial Times
  • HSBC hopes to launch ‘open banking’ app within months – Financial Times
  • Barclays pays top managers over £20mln in shares – Financial Times
  • Tullow Oil to reset short-term debt with $650mln bond – Daily Telegraph
  • Morrisons to see profits boost as road to recovery continues – Scottish Herald
  • Another 78 Carillion jobs have been lost: - City AM
  • Just Eat falls again over £50mln investment plan to fend off food delivery rivals Uber and Deliveroo – Daily Mail
  • Uber beefs up its food delivery arm as it looks to launch in 100 cities across Europe, the Middle East and Africa – Daily Mail
  • Trump kills off biggest tech deal with national security order on Qualcomm – Daily Telegraph
  • Apple to buy ‘Netflix for magazines’ Texture – The Guardian
  • Jeff Immelt had 72% pay cut after plunging profits hit GE – Financial Times
  • Virgin Media takes on Openreach in rural areas for first time: - Financial Times
  • Saudi Aramco continues to ‘review options’ for IPO – Financial Times
  • Net-A-Porter Founder Natalie Massenet to lead another high fashion market float with Farfetch tipped for a £3.6bn listing – Daily Mail
  • Chinese battery maker takes controlling stake in Quebec lithium project – Financial Times
  • Meal kit maker Gousto delivers £28.5mln investment – Daily Telegraph
  • Bella Italia and La Tasca stomach £60 million in losses as food chains continue to battle tighter consumer spending – Daily Mail
  • Cash is not dying out, despite rise of cryptocurrencies and contactless payment, report finds – The Independent

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