The Mid Session Wrap is a report on the biggest movers in the FTSE 100 and macroeconomic news that impacts movements in share prices. The report also previews macroeconomic data that is due to be released over the course of the session.


US stocks tread water, but Footsie powers on

January 18 2013, 3:37pm
Visa was downgraded by Robert W. Baird

US stocks are stuck in neutral in early trading, as investors digest a flurry of earnings announcements.

Chip maker Intel is sharply lower after unveiling its second successive quarter of declining sales, as the market shifts away from desktop and laptop computers, where Intel is king, to hand-held devices, where Intel’s market share is not substantial.

The Dow Jones is barely changed at 13,594 while the S&P 500 is just under a point weaker at 1,480. The NASDAQ Composite is down 8 at 3,128.

The rash of banking results continues with Morgan Stanley weighing in with better than expected figures.

Industrial holding company General Electric also surpassed expectations with its results.

Video streaming specialist Netflix gets a lift from broker Janney Montgomery Scott, which has upgraded the stock. In other broker news, Jefferies has upgraded Blackberry smartphone and Playbook tablet maker Research In Motion to ‘buy’ from ‘hold’.

Going the other way is charge card issuer Visa, which has been downgraded to ‘neutral’ from ‘outperform’ by Robert W. Baird.

In London, as the snow falls, the blue-chip index is trading close to is intra-day high, with miners leading the way after encouraging economic data from China.

Fears that the People’s Republic’s growth has been slowing over the past year or so have put a dampener on sentiment, but today’s news that growth in China has picked up to 7.9% from 7.4% in the previous quarter boosted mining stocks, not to mention steelmaker Evraz (LON:EVR), which is up 4.3% despite seeing output fall in the latest quarter.

Rio Tinto (LON:RIO) is up 2.4% as analysts mull over the implications of yesterday’s changes at the top at the mining heavyweight.

Platinum refiner Johnson Matthey (LON:JMAT) also moved up on the Chinese data, advancing 3.0%.

Xstrata (LON:XTA) and Glencore (LON:GLEN) both climbed up despite another delay in sealing a deal to merge the two.

The mining giant and the commodities heavyweight are waiting on the green light from regulators in South Africa and China for a deal to go ahead.

Meggitt (LON:MGGT) rose 1.4% after an upgrade to ‘overweight’ from Barclays Capital analysts, citing the stock as a “forgotten” story – but not for much longer, they reckon

Sainsbury’s (LON:SBRY) slipped 1.1% after the supermarket chain made its way onto Goldman Sachs’ ‘conviction sell’ list as a result of slowing momentum.

Elsewhere in the retail sector Kingfisher (LON:KGF) is the worst performing blue-chip as its chief operating officer, Euan Sutherland, revealed he will be off at the end of March.

The Footsie is up 34 at 6,067.

Outside the top flight, Ashmore Group (LON:ASHM) slipped 3.3% after a UBS downgrade, while house builder Bovis Homes (LON:BVS) drifted 1.1% lower despite raising its profit expectations for the full-year.

The AIM market, made up of minnows who are used to big rises and falls from one day to the next, was helped up by ReNeuron (LON:RENE). The stem cell specialist shot up to 3p, a 16.5% increase on top of yesterday’s big gains.

Junior oil explorers Sound Oil (LON:SOU) and Fastnet Oil & Gas (LON:FAST) made their way up, with the former firming 7.5% and the latter hardening 5.1%.

Sula Iron & Gold (LON:SULA) rose almost 5% after it started drilling in Sierra Leone following positive early results.

Oracle Coalfields (LON:ORCP), meanwhile, suffered despite unveiling two fundraisings in another step in its bid to develop Pakistan’s first large scale coal mine.

It has raised around £0.93mln by placing around 62 million shares at 1.5p each, with the current share price at 2p each.

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