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London midday: Stocks little changed as sterling rallies

(Sharecast News) – London stocks were treading water by midday on Thursday as investors eyed the latest policy announcement from the European Central Bank.
The FTSE 100 was up just 0.1% at 6,746.84, with sterling 0.5% firmer against the dollar at 1.3720. The stronger pound was likely holding back the top-flight index, as around 70% of its constituents derive most of their earnings from overseas.

IG market analyst Chris Beauchamp said: “The Biden administration has set to work with a will, overturning via executive orders a host of decisions made by the old regime, but Biden, as a grizzled veteran of the Senate, will know that getting legislation through the House is a much tougher prospect.

“Already there are signs that the great stimulus package promised earlier in the week may have to be pared back, as the messy business of governing gets underway. Perhaps the great rotation away from tech and into value stocks will have to wait a little longer, with strength in tech stocks yesterday apparently reminding investors that giants like Amazon and others continue to throw off huge amounts of cash and still have huge potential for growth.

“In any case, the FTSE 100’s performance over the past 24 hours has been much more muted, a reflection of its lack of high growth names, and a warning that perhaps the gains in old-economy stocks have gone too far, too fast, and may now be due at least a breather, if not a correction.”

Investors were eyeing the latest policy announcement from the European Central Bank, due at 1245 GMT. The Bank is widely expected to stand pat on policy but keep the door open to more stimulus.

In equity markets, software group Sage was the top gainer on the FTSE 100 after saying it traded in line with expectations in the first quarter as recurring revenue grew strongly. Total revenue rose 1.4% to £447m in the three months to the end of December from a year earlier as recurring revenue increased 4.7% to £408m.

Sainsburys was boosted by an upgrade to ‘hold’ from ‘sell’ at Berenberg, while Ocado gained after Berenberg bumped up its price target.

Brick maker Ibstock rose sharply after it saying it now expects to report adjusted EBITDA for 2020 “modestly above” the previous guidance of £50m.

4imprint rallied after the direct marketer of promotional products said that full-year underling pre-tax profit is set to be in line with the board’s expectations, as order intake continues to recover.

Pets at Home gained after it stuck to its outlook for annual results as the company posted an 18% increase in third-quarter revenue amid a boom in pet product sales.

On the downside, Informa was weaker after a downgrade at UBS, while Hiscox was knocked lower by a downgrade to ‘hold’ at Jefferies.

IG Group slumped even as it agreed a $1bn deal to acquire American broker tastytrade and posted record interim numbers.

Energy producer and explorer Energean slumped after it said delivery of first gas from its Israeli fields could slip by up to three months due to manpower shortages.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 6,746.84 0.10%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 20,932.61 0.24%
techMARK (TASX) 4,200.98 0.21%

FTSE 100 – Risers

Sage Group (SGE) 592.40p 3.39%
Just Eat Takeaway.Com N.V. (CDI) (JET) 8,264.00p 3.17%
Intermediate Capital Group (ICP) 1,770.00p 2.79%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 481.50p 2.62%
Aveva Group (AVV) 3,868.00p 2.33%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 417.40p 2.30%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,669.50p 2.24%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 273.20p 2.21%
NATWEST GROUP PLC ORD 100P (NWG) 159.80p 2.11%
Phoenix Group Holdings (PHNX) 704.40p 2.09%

FTSE 100 – Fallers

Informa (INF) 528.00p -2.55%
WPP (WPP) 793.40p -2.15%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 105.10p -2.14%
Pearson (PSON) 722.60p -1.98%
British Land Company (BLND) 440.00p -1.81%
Royal Dutch Shell ‘B’ (RDSB) 1,394.00p -1.69%
BAE Systems (BA.) 483.20p -1.67%
Royal Dutch Shell ‘A’ (RDSA) 1,454.00p -1.56%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 1,645.50p -1.38%
BP (BP.) 298.70p -1.37%

FTSE 250 – Risers

Ibstock (IBST) 217.60p 10.57%
4Imprint Group (FOUR) 2,340.00p 3.54%
Close Brothers Group (CBG) 1,468.00p 3.45%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 1,785.00p 3.30%
WH Smith (SMWH) 1,773.00p 3.26%
Just Eat Takeaway.Com N.V. (CDI) (JET) 8,264.00p 3.17%
Diploma (DPLM) 2,328.00p 3.10%
Avon Rubber (AVON) 3,335.00p 3.09%
Elementis (ELM) 117.00p 3.08%
Renishaw (RSW) 6,350.00p 3.00%

FTSE 250 – Fallers

IG Group Holdings (IGG) 864.50p -4.37%
Energean (ENOG) 882.60p -4.29%
Investec (INVP) 197.70p -2.85%
Meggitt (MGGT) 432.70p -2.21%
IWG (IWG) 317.60p -1.98%
Capital & Counties Properties (CAPC) 135.00p -1.96%
Greencore Group (GNC) 115.40p -1.79%
Rank Group (RNK) 141.00p -1.67%
Grainger (GRI) 270.00p -1.53%
CMC Markets (CMCX) 422.50p -1.52%

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