LONDON (ShareCast) - - Investors cautious ahead of pivotal week
- Ruling on ESM and FOMC meeting in focus
- Miners lead risers on hopes of QE3
Londons FTSE 100 index finished just two points lower on Monday afternoon as investors refrained from building positions ahead of a busy week for the markets.
The Footsie stayed within a narrow range for most of the day with just 20 points between the intraday high and low.
Markets have reverted to wait and see mode today ahead of this week's key events out of Europe and the US as investors start to book some profits after the gains of the last few days, said market analyst Michael Hewson from CMC Markets.
Investors are awaiting the German Constitutional Court ruling on the European Stability Mechanism on Wednesday, while Thursday's focus will be on the Federal Open Market Committee meeting in the US, "both of which are major event risks", according to Ishaq Siddiqi from ETX Capital.
"Germanys opposition of the ECBs bond buying plan and the mixed data picture of the US economy prompt a huge degree of uncertainty over both events, he said.
Stocks were given a boost towards the end of last week after European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi unveiled details of the bank's bond-buying programme, which included unlimited and sterilised purchases of sovereign debt with maturities over between one and three years.
In other news, China reported significantly worse-than-expected import figures for August, falling for the first time in a non-holiday period since 2009. The trade surplus widened to $26.7bn last month, well above expectations of $19.5bn.
Meanwhile, Japans Cabinet Office slashed its estimate of gross domestic product growth for the second quarter to an annualised rate of 0.7% (consensus: 1.0%), versus the preliminary estimate of 1.4%.
FTSE 100: Miners gain on hopes for further QE
Mining stocks were performing well on Monday with expectations for further quantitative easing (QE) measures from the Federal Reserve driving gains. UBS said this morning that the outlook for the UK mining sector is improving: "QE triggers a return of capital flows to emerging markets, incentivising companies to stop running for cash and embark on a commodity bullish restocking phase. As in the past, QE is likely to drive up commodity prices and in turn mining equities."
Kazakhmys, which was upgraded by the Swiss broker today from sell to buy, was the best performing FTSE 100 constituent this afternoon. Sector peers Vedanta, Rio Tinto and Fresnillo were also wanted.
Xstrata edged higher, extending gains made Friday when Glencore released its eleventh-hour adjustment to its offer for the miner. Glencore gave details of its proposal to Xstrata this morning, saying that "it is content with Xstrata's request for Xstrata management and senior employees to receive appropriate retention and incentive packages."
Shares in retailer Marks & Spencer were up on reports that a buy-out of the firm is in the works. Banks are said to be exploring different possible means to structure a leveraged buy-out of the company, according to a report published by Reuters last Friday after the close of markets.
Government-owned lender Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) was pushed higher by reports that it could start the process of spinning off its Direct Line Insurance Group by the end of the week. Sector peer Barclays was making gains after UBS raised its target price for the stock from 205p to 235p and reiterated its 'buy' recommendation. The broker said that there is "potentially significant upside if new CEO changes strategy".
B&Q owner Kingfisher was making gains today after Credit Suisse initiated coverage on the stock with an outperform rating. The broker said that given its historical and prospective growth, and improving returns, the stock should trade at a premium to its UK retail peers.
Meanwhile, Primark and sugar group AB Foods was out of favour despite saying that adjusted operating profits in the second half will be well ahead of last year and in line with expectations. Investec said this morning it expects to lower its full-year EPS estimate due to the weaker-than-expected profits in the Ingredients division.
FTSE 250: Spirax-Sarco rises after broker upgrade
Spirax-Sarco was performing well after Goldman Sachs upgraded the stock to 'buy' and raised its target price from 2,100p to 2,510p. Meanwhile, Laird headed the other way after the same US broker cut its recommendation to 'sell'.
Electronics retailer Dixons was up after revealing that it is seeking to retire some of its existing debt prior to issuing some new loan notes. The group has offered to buy back up to £130m pounds in outstanding debt. Of the total, £80m would come from the companys outstanding £300m 2012 bond issue which currently yields 6.125%. A further £50m would go on the 8.75% bonds due 2015.
The Paragon Group of Companies was down after purchasing further unsecured loans through its Idem Capital Securities subsidiary from The Royal Bank of Scotland under the terms of a forward flow agreement.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 686.50p +4.41%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 253.00p +3.48%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 1,003.00p +2.82%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 371.10p +2.74%
CRH (CRH) 1,206.00p +2.38%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 149.90p +2.18%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,249.00p +1.88%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,756.00p +1.86%
Resolution Ltd. (RSL) 214.30p +1.76%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,069.00p +1.59%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
SABMiller (SAB) 2,700.00p -2.26%
Glencore International (GLEN) 370.00p -2.13%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 687.00p -2.00%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 1,280.00p -1.99%
National Grid (NG.) 681.00p -1.66%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,124.50p -1.54%
Severn Trent (SVT) 1,690.00p -1.52%
BAE Systems (BA.) 327.70p -1.44%
Unilever (ULVR) 2,245.00p -1.32%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 1,386.00p -1.28%
FTSE 250 - Risers
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 723.50p +9.37%
Bwin.party Digital Entertainment (BPTY) 103.70p +7.80%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 196.50p +7.49%
Bank of Georgia Holdings (BGEO) 1,320.00p +5.85%
Hays (HAS) 81.25p +5.79%
Dixons Retail (DXNS) 20.25p +5.03%
Spirax-Sarco Engineering (SPX) 2,126.00p +4.47%
Petropavlovsk (POG) 394.00p +4.23%
Man Group (EMG) 83.90p +4.03%
Lonmin (LMI) 619.00p +3.86%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Laird (LRD) 230.50p -4.20%
Ruspetro (RPO) 114.70p -4.02%
Dairy Crest Group (DCG) 344.00p -3.70%
Premier Farnell (PFL) 185.40p -2.78%
Premier Oil (PMO) 376.90p -2.71%
Paragon Group Of Companies (PAG) 199.20p -2.64%
Yule Catto & Co (YULC) 166.40p -2.06%
Barr (A.G.) (BAG) 458.40p -2.05%
Cranswick (CWK) 813.50p -1.99%
AZ Electronic Materials SA (DI) (AZEM) 323.00p -1.82%