(Sharecast News) – London stocks closed in the green on Wednesday as sterling gained, with investors tuning in to Joe Biden’s inauguration as the new US president, and mulling the latest UK inflation data.
The FTSE 100 ended the session up 0.41% at 6.740.39, and the FTSE 250 was 1.35% firmer at 20,881.46.
Sterling was last 0.21% stronger on the dollar at $1.3658, as it gained 0.34% against the euro to 1.1276.
Biden and his vice-president elect Kamala Harris were due to be sworn into office outside the Capitol in Washington not long after the closing bell in London.
“So far Inauguration Day has gone smoothly, the massive police and National Guard presence preventing any major civil disturbances, which is something the market is likely to take in a positive frame of mind,” said IG chief market analyst Chris Beauchamp.
“With Biden promising to sign a raft of executive orders once he enters the Oval Office investors will hope that the new administration carries on in this activist vein, at least where the fiscal stimulus proposals are concerned.”
On home shores, investors were digesting the latest data from the Office for National Statistics, which showed that inflation rose to 0.6% in December from 0.3% in November despite the closure of non-essential shops.
“Clothing prices put upward pressure on inflation in December, despite some evidence of continued discounting,” said ONS deputy national statistician for economic statistics Jonathan Athow.
“Transport costs, including air, sea and coach fares, as well as petrol prices, rose as some travel restrictions eased during parts of the month.
“These were partially offset by falling food prices, most notably for vegetables and meat.”
In equity markets, education publisher Pearson gained 8.57% as it said sales and profit for the full year were in line with expectations despite the additional impact of Covid-19 in the fourth quarter.
Burberry rallied 3.86% after it said sales fell in the third quarter as the impact of Covid-19 and fewer price cuts offset strong sales of full-price items boosted by its association with footballer Marcus Rashford.
Hochschild Mining was on the front foot by 6.92% as it lifted 2021 output guidance after full-year production came in at the upper end of forecasts, despite pandemic disruption.
Stationery retailer WH Smith gained 10.42% after it reported better-than-expected Christmas trading despite burning through £15m to £20m in cash a month during the current Covid-19 lockdown.
Diploma was also higher, adding 5.91% after hailing a strong start to the year, with improved trends in underlying trading across all of its three sectors in the first quarter.
On the downside, Dixons Carphone was in the red by 3.32% even as it maintained full-year guidance and reported a sharp rise in electricals revenue over the Christmas period, driven by people buying televisions and computers during the coronavirus lockdown.
The company said mobile phone total revenue plunged 40% as its Carphone Warehouse stores were closed under Covid restrictions.
In broker note action, Standard Chartered was 1.55% weaker after a downgrade to ‘neutral’ at Citi following its recent share price rally.
Wood Group was knocked 4.56% lower by a downgrade to ‘underperform’ at Jefferies, while Royal Mail was boosted 3.05% by an upgrade to ‘buy’ at Deutsche Bank.
FTSE 100 (UKX) 6,740.39 0.41%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 20,881.46 1.35%
techMARK (TASX) 4,192.36 0.99%
FTSE 100 – Risers
Pearson (PSON) 737.20p 8.57%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 2,914.00p 6.47%
Informa (INF) 541.20p 3.52%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,798.50p 3.48%
Polymetal International (POLY) 1,694.50p 3.48%
Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) 308.60p 3.45%
Evraz (EVR) 519.00p 3.02%
BHP Group (BHP) 2,169.50p 2.77%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 107.40p 2.63%
WPP (WPP) 809.40p 2.48%
FTSE 100 – Fallers
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) 1,379.80p -2.17%
Avast (AVST) 531.00p -1.67%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 469.20p -1.55%
Experian (EXPN) 2,638.00p -1.53%
Prudential (PRU) 1,418.00p -1.15%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 7,645.00p -1.00%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 2,285.00p -0.91%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 408.00p -0.84%
NATWEST GROUP PLC ORD 100P (NWG) 156.00p -0.83%
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 4,819.00p -0.80%
FTSE 250 – Risers
WH Smith (SMWH) 1,717.00p 10.42%
Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) 278.50p 9.22%
Babcock International Group (BAB) 212.80p 6.93%
Herald Investment Trust (HRI) 2,350.00p 6.82%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 205.20p 5.99%
Diploma (DPLM) 2,258.00p 5.91%
Renishaw (RSW) 6,165.00p 5.57%
Ascential (ASCL) 373.00p 5.25%
Aggreko (AGK) 672.50p 5.16%
Wetherspoon (J.D.) (JDW) 1,244.00p 5.16%
FTSE 250 – Fallers
Avon Rubber (AVON) 3,260.00p -4.68%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 313.70p -4.62%
AO World (AO.) 346.50p -4.15%
Elementis (ELM) 112.80p -3.51%
IWG (IWG) 324.00p -3.28%
Premier Foods (PFD) 99.50p -3.21%
Dixons Carphone (DC.) 119.60p -3.08%
easyJet (EZJ) 829.00p -1.92%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 187.00p -1.63%
Howden Joinery Group (HWDN) 685.60p -1.30%