London midday: Footsie plays catch-up with global equities

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LONDON (ShareCast) - - Footsie plays catch-up with global equities
- Pricing of first Fed rate hike barely altered
- Antofagasta (Other OTC: ANFGF - news) misses EPS forecasts

techMARK 2,821.69 -0.05%
FTSE 100 6,797.20 +0.32%
FTSE 250 15,917.25 +0.23%

London's blue chips registered slight gains on Tuesday as they caught up with overnight gains made on Wall Street and ahead of the release of a spate of economic data Stateside later in the afternoon.

Equities on the continent saw large gains on Monday on the heels of comments made at the Jackson Hole symposium of central bankers last Friday by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and only a somewhat more hawkish speech from Fed chair Janet Yellen.

Draghi called on the European Commission to allow countries greater leeway in meeting their public deficit targets as they undertake structural reforms and for greater 'fiscal co-ordination' - in effect calling on Germany to ramp up its spending.

The FTSE 100 had climbed 22 points higher to 6,797.20 by midday.

Monday's US session saw the S&P 500 at one point edge past the psychologically significant 2,000 point mark for the first time ever.

Speaking to her audience, the Fed chair said that if unemployment continued to decrease more quickly than expected then the central bank might have to raise rates sooner than is currently priced into financial markets.

However, by late in the Monday session futures markets were still only pricing in a 56% probability that the Fed would move on rates by July of 2015, versus 48% a week before, according to Bloomberg.

Monday night also saw the televised debate between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling over Scottish independence.

In the 90-minute clash, held at Glasgow's Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, the two campaign leaders argued a number of topics, including the pound, welfare reform, North Sea oil and the NHS.

Overall, First Minister Salmond was generally agreed to have won the debate.

UK service firms endure slowest growth in a year

Business volumes in the UK services industry in the three months to August rose at their weakest rate since the same month in August 2013, the latest Services Sector Survey from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) showed.

About 43% of firms said volumes were up compared with three months ago, and 17% said they were down, giving a balance of 25%.

Compared to a year ago, the number of mortgage approvals for home purchases in July rose 12% to 42,792 (consensus: 44,065) according to the latest data from the British Bankers' Association (BBA).

Antofagasta, Regus (Other OTC: RGSJF - news) lead losses

Antofagasta, the Chilean copper producer, saw its profit before tax for the period ended 30 June fall from $981m to $850.7m due to lower copper output and prices. Net cash costs rose by 15.9% to $1.46 per pound. Earnings per share came in at 33.6 cents (consensus: 36 cents). The company maintained its full-year guidance for production.

Strong performances in emerging and Western markets helped packaging and cleaning supplies group Bunzl (LSE: BNZL.L - news) to lift underlying half-year profits and its dividend, sending shares firmly higher early on. Bunzl said pre-tax profit in the six months to 30 June increased by 14% to £176.6m at constant exchange rates, although the rise was 5% at actual rates. Revenue also took a hit from currency volatility, rising 7% to £2.9bn at constant rates but falling 1% in actual terms.

Media and public relations conglomerate WPP (LSE: WPP.L - news) was hot on its heels after it posted interim results slightly ahead of expectations, although it continued to take a hit from the strong pound. Pre-tax profit was £491m, up 15% compared to £427m in the same period in 2013. Revenue came in at £5.469bn, up 2.7% from £5.327bn a year earlier, while diluted earnings per share climbed 25.6% from 21.5p to 27.0p year-on-year.

Regus, the Luxembourg-based provider of office outsourcing services, saw its pre-tax profit for the first half of 2014 fall slightly from £31.1m in the same period in 2013 to £31m in the six months ended June 30.

Oil and gas explorer Petrofac saw revenues decline to $2.5bn over the six months ended on 30 June. Operating profits on an EBITDA basis were off by 16% to $340m. Engineering, construction, operations and maintenance (ECOM) order intake stood at $7.2bn for the first half, raising the backlog 35% to $20.3bn, "giving very good revenue visibility for the rest of the year", the company said.

Bus and rail operator Stagecoach reported higher revenue across its businesses, particularly its UK bus networks, and said it was on track to hit annual targets despite facing "a number of challenges" in increasing profit. Stagecoach said its UK regional buses boosted revenue by 4% in the 12 weeks to 20 July, although like-for-like passenger volumes rose by just 0.9%.

Meanwhile, from Tuesday, drug-maker Pfizer (NYSE: PFE - news) will be eligible to make one further private offer for Astrazeneca (NYSE: AZN - news) , prompting the latter's share price to rise around 0.5% in the first hour of trade.

FTSE 100 - Risers
Associated British Foods (LSE: ABF.L - news) (ABF) 2,875.00p +2.24%
Ashtead Group (LSE: AHT.L - news) (AHT) 970.00p +2.11%
CRH (CRH (NYSE: CRH - news) ) 1,408.00p +2.10%
G4S (GFS) 270.90p +2.07%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 352.60p +1.91%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 445.30p +1.88%
WPP (WPP) 1,246.00p +1.55%
Hargreaves Lansdown (LSE: HL.L - news) (HL.) 1,170.00p +1.39%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,337.00p +1.36%
Barclays (BARC) 225.70p +1.30%

FTSE 100 - Fallers
Antofagasta (LSE: ANTO.L - news) (ANTO) 784.00p -2.97%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,107.00p -1.69%
Rio Tinto (Xetra: 855018 - news) (RIO) 3,339.00p -1.58%
Pearson (PSON) 1,121.00p -0.62%
Prudential (PRU) 1,439.50p -0.62%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 5,235.00p -0.57%
Fresnillo (FRES) 917.00p -0.49%
Smith & Nephew (LSE: SN.L - news) (SN.) 1,053.00p -0.47%
Anglo American (LSE: AAL.L - news) (AAL) 1,551.50p -0.32%
TUI Travel (LSE: TT.L - news) (TT.) 372.00p -0.29%

FTSE 250 - Risers
Perform Group (LSE: PER.L - news) (PER) 205.50p +5.38%
RPS Group (LSE: RPS.L - news) (RPS) 284.20p +3.57%
Cairn Energy (LSE: CNE.L - news) (CNE) 189.00p +3.56%
Evraz (EVR) 111.50p +2.77%
Synthomer (SYNT) 239.30p +2.75%
Ocado Group (Other OTC: OCDGF - news) (OCDO) 386.60p +2.17%
NMC Health (LSE: NMC.L - news) (NMC (Other OTC: NMCX - news) ) 490.00p +2.08%
Redrow (RDW) 279.00p +1.97%
Fidelity European Values (FEV) 151.80p +1.88%
Amec (AMEC (Other OTC: AMCBF - news) ) 1,133.00p +1.80%

FTSE 250 - Fallers
Regus (RGU) 183.00p -6.87%
Telecity Group (LSE: TCY.L - news) (TCY) 716.00p -5.97%
Centamin (DI (KSE: 003160.KS - news) ) (CEY) 61.00p -4.31%
JD Sports Fashion (LSE: JD.L - news) (JD.) 388.00p -2.95%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 134.20p -2.75%
Fisher (James) & Sons (FSJ) 1,335.00p -2.70%
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (LSE: MLC.L - news) (MLC) 577.50p -2.70%
Fidessa Group (Other OTC: FDGRY - news) (FDSA) 2,280.00p -2.48%
Petra Diamonds Ltd (LSE: PDL.L - news) .(DI) (PDL) 178.50p -2.25%
Euromoney Institutional Investor (ERM) 1,066.00p -2.20%

FTSE TechMARK - Risers
Triad Group (LSE: TRD.L - news) (TRD) 12.25p +60.66%
Torotrak (TRK) 17.30p +3.28%
Dialight (DIA) 890.00p +1.54%
E2V Technologies (LSE: E2V.L - news) (E2V) 154.75p +1.48%
Phoenix IT Group (PNX) 89.75p +1.41%
NCC Group (LSE: NCC.L - news) (NCC (BSE: NCC.BO - news) ) 220.00p +0.69%
IShares Euro Gov Bond 7-10YR UCITS ETF (IEGM) € 196.75 +0.67%
Ricardo (RCDO) 644.00p +0.39%
Skyepharma (SKP) 280.50p +0.09%
Sepura (SEPU) 145.50p +0.09%

FTSE TechMARK - Fallers
CML Microsystems (LSE: CML.L - news) (CML) 335.00p -3.60%
BATM Advanced Communications Ltd (LSE: BVC.L - news) . (BVC) 16.50p -2.22%
Promethean World (Other OTC: PMTWF - news) (PRW) 29.00p -1.69%
SDL (SDL (LSE: SDL.L - news) ) 331.25p -1.34%
Vectura Group (LSE: VEC.L - news) (VEC) 136.00p -0.73%
Puricore (PURI) 37.75p -0.66%
Anite (AIE) 93.75p -0.27%
KCOM Group (LSE: KCOM.L - news) (KCOM) 99.00p -0.25%
RM (RM (LSE: RM.L - news) .) 161.75p -0.15%
Consort Medical (LSE: CSRT.L - news) (CSRT) 913.00p -0.11%

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