Date: Thursday 16 Aug 2012
LONDON (ShareCast) - 1630: Retail sales in the UK came in above expectations in July boosted by a strong increase in fuel and department store sales. Sales volumes rose by 0.3% from June and by 2.8% on an annual basis, according to the latest data from the ONS. The market consensus was looking for a change of -0.1% and 1.4%, respectively. Meanwhile, the LIBOR scandal is once again hitting the headlines with seven banks set to be called in for questioning in the US over the alleged rigging of inter-bank lending rates. Over in the US, weekly unemployment claims rose by 2,000 to 366,000 last week according to the data released by the US Labor Department on Thursday. The FTSE closed up just one point at 5,835.
1550: The hits keep on coming for platinum miner Lonmin. Shortly after announcing it is unlikely to meet its full year production targets because of violent strikes at its West Marikana operations in South Africa it disclosed that its Chief Executive Officer, Ian Farmer, is in hospital after being diagnosed with a serious illness. A modestly positive start on Wall Street has encouraged Footsie to shuffle into positive territory. FTSE 100 is up 3 at 5,836.
1501: Footsie remains becalmed in southern waters. Broker commentary weighs on mining giant ENRC after its results yesterday, with UBS cutting its target price from 585p to 565p, and also on legacy software specialist Micro Focus after its trading update this morning, which prompted Numis to downgrade the stock to 'add', although the target price is lifted from 590p to 610p. FTSE 100 is down 17 at 5,816.
1318: Footsie remains stuck in reverse gear but with the brakes firmly on. Lloyds leads the banking sector higher. Investors do not seem too perturbed that UK lenders HSBC, Barclays and RBS are among the seven banks who have been subpoenaed by the Attorneys General of New York and Connecticut to answer questions in relation to the LIBOR scandal. FTSE 100 is down 13 at 5,820.
1123: The Footsie has dropped a little further into the red, down 12 points at 5,821, despite some better-than-expected UK retail sales data. Sales volumes rose 0.3 per cent in July, up 2.8 per cent year-on-year, ahead of expectations of a 0.0 per cent and 1.6 per cent change, respectively. However, the ONS did say that 'Feedback from retailers suggests that there has been no impact on sales from the [Olympic] Games in this trading period'. Insurance firms Admiral and Prudential are among the heaviest fallers on the FTSE 100, with the latter down after Nomura cut its target price on the stock from 740p to 680p and maintained its 'reduce' rating. Miners are continuing to lead the risers on the blue-chip index after China's Wen Jiabao said that he sees 'growing room for monetary policy operation' as inflation slows down. Evraz, Kazakhmys and Vedanta are all performing well.
0953: The battle between bulls and bears this morning contains all the excitement of a third-place play-off in the World Narcolepsy Championships. At the moment, the bears have a marginal advantage, with the FTSE 100 down two points at 5,831. Yesterday's disappointing manufacturing data from the New York Fed supported the bears' case, but better-than-expected US industrial production numbers gave heart to the bulls. On the corporate scene, most of the action is taking place among the mid-caps. Balfour Beatty has been downgraded to 'hold' by HB Markets after yesterday's figures, which has knocked the shares back. Nickel and zinc miner Talvivaara has recouped a good proportion of earlier losses; the stock was initially marked down sharply after it lowered full year production guidance following a soggy second quarter.
0825: Equities have opened mixed with the strength of most miners ensuring the top share index is marginally in positive territory. ENRC is going against the trend in the mining sector after its poorly received interims yesterday, but in the mid-caps African Barrick shoots up on news that China's biggest gold producer, China National Gold Group, is in talks over buying a stake in the company. FTSE 100 is up three points at 5,836.