London midday: Stocks up but gains muted ahead of US inflation data

by | Mar 31, 2023

London stocks were still higher by midday on Friday following an upward revision to UK GDP figures, but gains were unspectacular as investors looked ahead to key US inflation data.
The FTSE 100 was up 0.2% at 7,635.43.

Figures released earlier by the Office for National Statistics showed that the economy grew a touch in the final quarter of last year, meaning a recession was avoided in the second half.

The GDP figure was revised up from an initial estimate of zero growth to 0.1% growth, following an upwardly-revised 0.1% contraction in the third quarter. The initial estimate had shown a 0.2% contraction in Q3.

GDP for 2022 as a whole is now estimated to have risen by 4.1%, up from a previous estimate of 4%.

The figures showed the quarterly GDP in Q4 was 0.6% below where it was pre-Covid in the fourth quarter of 2019, revised upwards from a previous estimate of 0.8% below.

Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS, said: “The economy performed a little more strongly in the latter half of last year than previously estimated, with later data showing telecommunications, construction and manufacturing all faring better than initially thought in the latest quarter.”

Investors were also mulling the latest figures from Nationwide, which showed that house prices fell in March at the fastest annual pace since July 2009.

House prices were down 3.1% on the year following a 1.1% decline in February. On the month, prices fell 0.8% in March following a 0.5% drop the month before. This marked the seventh decline in a row and leaves prices 4.6% below their August peak.

The data showed that house price growth slowed across all UK regions. The West Midlands was the strongest performing region, with prices up 1.4% on the year, while Scotland remained the weakest performer, with prices down 3.1%.

Nationwide chief economist Robert Gardner said: “The housing market reached a turning point last year as a result of the financial market turbulence which followed the mini-Budget.”

Since then, activity has remained subdued, he said, and “it will be hard for the market to regain much momentum in the near term since consumer confidence remains weak and household budgets remain under pressure from high inflation”.

Looking ahead to the rest of the day, US PCE data for February is due at 1330 BST.

CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said the Federal Reserve will be hoping that there are signs that inflation is cooling here after the surprise spike to 4.7% in the January numbers, which prompted a sharp spike in US rate hike expectations just prior to the meltdown that we saw at the beginning of this month.

“The jump higher in PCE core deflator also happened to coincide with a surge in January personal spending, which rose 1.8%,” he said. He said personal spending is expected to slow from the 1.8% gain seen in January to 0.3%, but the bigger question is whether we’ll see a similar slowdown in headline core PCE, or at the very least that we don’t move higher.

Earlier, preliminary data from Eurostat showed that eurozone inflation eased more than expected in March as energy prices fell, but core prices rose.

Annual consumer price inflation slowed to 6.9% from 8.5% in February, coming in below expectations of 7.1%.

Food, alcohol & tobacco inflation ticked up to 15.4% from 15.0% in February, while inflation in n non-energy industrial goods eased to 6.6% from 6.8%. Services inflation rose to 5% in March from 4.8% a month earlier, while energy inflation fell 0.9%, compared with a 13.7% increase in February.

Core inflation, which strips out energy, food, alcohol and tobacco, ticked up from 5.6% to 5.7% – a new record high and in line with expectations.

In equity markets, BA and Iberia owner IAG flew higher after rating upgrades at Barclays and Deutsche Bank. EasyJet and Wizz also racked up solid gains.

Rio Tinto pushed up after it agreed to sell a majority stake in its La Granja copper project in Peru to Canada’s First Quantum Minerals for $105m. Miners more generally were on the front foot, with Anglo American, Antofagasta and Glencore all up.

Rolls-Royce rose after it announced the appointment of BP’s Helen McCabe as its new chief financial officer.

Computacenter gained after it delivered flat annual profit but said revenues in the current year had been “extremely buoyant”.

Ocado traded up after saying late on Thursday that it had “comprehensively won” a patent infringement suit brought by Norwegian warehouse robotics group AutoStore at the UK High Court.

NCC shares crumbled after the cyber security firm warned on profits.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,635.43 0.20%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 18,917.26 0.05%
techMARK (TASX) 4,528.42 -0.66%

FTSE 100 – Risers

International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 152.48p 2.61%
M&G (MNG) 195.25p 2.44%
Pearson (PSON) 832.60p 2.06%
Beazley (BEZ) 597.00p 2.05%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 537.40p 1.93%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 2,579.00p 1.50%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RKT) 6,250.00p 1.40%
BT Group (BT.A) 146.00p 1.32%
Endeavour Mining (EDV) 2,002.00p 1.32%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 2,241.00p 1.31%

FTSE 100 – Fallers

Anglo American (AAL) 2,653.00p -1.28%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,566.50p -0.92%
Glencore (GLEN) 462.55p -0.87%
Airtel Africa (AAF) 107.00p -0.83%
Scottish Mortgage Inv Trust (SMT) 668.40p -0.77%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,260.50p -0.75%
Imperial Brands (IMB) 1,894.00p -0.73%
Prudential (PRU) 1,107.00p -0.67%
Fresnillo (FRES) 743.40p -0.64%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 240.40p -0.58%

FTSE 250 – Risers

easyJet (EZJ) 522.20p 4.23%
Abrdn Private Equity Opportunities Trust (APEO) 432.00p 3.85%
Wizz Air Holdings (WIZZ) 2,970.00p 3.41%
Petershill Partners (PHLL) 168.00p 3.19%
Octopus Renewables Infrastructure Trust (ORIT) 97.00p 2.97%
Hammerson (HMSO) 25.04p 2.83%
Genus (GNS) 2,908.00p 2.47%
Hilton Food Group (HFG) 697.00p 2.35%
Warehouse Reit (WHR) 101.40p 2.22%
BBGI Global Infrastructure S.A. NPV (DI) (BBGI) 150.20p 2.18%

FTSE 250 – Fallers

NCC Group (NCC) 98.00p -36.03%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 599.00p -8.74%
Darktrace (DARK) 249.00p -6.04%
Ithaca Energy (ITH) 143.45p -3.07%
Syncona Limited NPV (SYNC) 144.80p -2.95%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 199.95p -2.89%
Victrex plc (VCT) 1,591.00p -2.63%
Ascential (ASCL) 238.00p -2.14%
National Express Group (NEX) 120.60p -1.71%
Auction Technology Group (ATG) 601.00p -1.64%

Related articles

Trending stories

Join our mailing list

Subscribe to our mailing list to receive regular updates!