(Sharecast News) – UK stocks were set to tick slightly higher on Thursday morning, though gains would likely be muted as the market awaits key inflation data from the US later on.
By 0722 BST, futures on the FTSE 100 were showing a 0.4% lift on London’s benchmark index to 7,606.2.
Overnight, Asian stocks ended the session mixed, with the Nikkei 225 up 0.9%, the Shanghai Composite flat and the Hang Seng Index down 0.7%. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones and S&P 500 closed 0.5% and 0.7% lower, respectively, while the Nasdaq dropped 1.2%.
Investors were opting for a risk-off approach ahead of inflation figures from the world’s largest economy, due out at 1330 BST. Consensus estimates point to a slight pick-up in the annual rate of consumer price inflation, from 3% in June to 3.3% in July, now that so-called negative base effects had run their course.
Jobless claims data is also due for release on Thursday, while US producer price inflation figures are due out on Friday.
“Any bad surprise on the inflation front could revive the Federal Reserve hawks, but we are far from pricing another hike in September just yet,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote Bank. “Activity on Fed funds futures assesses more than 85% chance for pause in September FOMC meeting.”
In company news, Antofagasta reported first-half revenue of $2.89bn on Thursday – a 14.3% increase year-on-year, primarily due to higher copper and by-product sales volumes and prices. The FTSE 100 miner said EBITDA reached $1.33bn, up 7.5%, despite a 14.8% increase in operating costs. Copper production grew 10%, and its 2023 guidance was revised to between 640,00 and 670,000 tonnes, with capital expenditure projections remaining at $1.9bn.
Spirax-Sarco Engineering reported a 13% increase in first-half revenues, with a notable 15% sales growth figure in steam specialties. However, the company said biopharm sales within Watson-Marlow decreased 21%, contributing to a 7% decline in statutory operating profit. Despite the challenges, the board raised the interim dividend has been by 8% to 46p, with a return to growth in biopharm projected for 2024.
Persimmmon said it was on track to meet expectations for full-year profit, despite higher mortgage rates, the removal of Help-to-Buy and “significant” market uncertainty. Topline growth, excluding bulk sales, was described as “robust”, private average selling prices increased in its order book and costs savings were achieved, it said. First-half revenues fell by 29.5% to £1.19bn, as new home completions decreased by 36% to 4,249. Profit before tax meanwhile shrank by 66% to £151m, driving earnings per share down from 106.5p to 34.4p.