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FTSE 100: This morning’s risers and fallers

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UK stocks opened with small gains on Friday ahead of the US non-farm payrolls report due out this afternoon, which always has the potential to spark volatility across global equity markets.

The FTSE 100 was trading 0.4% higher at 6,672 in early trading; it has not closed above this level since 11 March when it finished at 6,685.52.

Samuel Fox, Financial Sales Trader at Spreadex, said that markets are expected to be “quite twitchy” ahead of the Bureau for Labor Statistics data due out at 13:30.

Consensus forecasts have pencilled in a 200,000 increase in payrolls in March, up from 175,000 the month before, while the unemployment rate is expected to have fallen to 6.6% from 6.7%.

Data from ADP on Wednesday showed that private hiring increased by 191,000 last month, close to analysts’ estimates, bolstering expectations of a strong ‘official’ figure today as the adverse impact from severe winter weather seen in recent months begins to fade.

Fox said: “With the weather dramatically improving in America, the number is predicted to show growth of around 200,000 which could see US markets reach new record highs, however trading over the release of the figure is not for the faint hearted.”

easyJet traffic grows, RBS appoints to CFO

easyJet was flying higher this morning after saying the number of passengers in March rose by 4.8% to 5,107,676 compared to a year earlier. The load factor, the number of passengers to the number of seats available, increased to 91.5% from 90.5% the same month in 2013.

Royal Bank of Scotland rose after confirming media speculation by appointing a long-running Credit Suisse banker Ewen Stevenson as its new Chief Finance Officer (CFO), following the resignation of Nathan Bostock in December. Stevenson was also one of the architects of the £45bn government bailout of RBS in 2008.

Oil, gas and mining engineer Kentz Corporation, however, fell after revealing that its CFO, Ed Power, is to step down on reaching his normal retirement age this May.

Supermarket group Tesco was trading lower on speculation that its Finance Chief Laurie McIlwee could quit in the coming days amid falling profits and a recent decline market share. McIlwee has worked for Tesco for 15 years.

Retail peers Marks & Spencer, Kingfisher and Morrison were also in the red this morning.

Telecoms group Vodafone was hit with a downgrade by Nomura to ‘neutral’ and a target price cut from 255p to 240p.

Meanwhile, Pearson was higher after Jefferies upgraded the publisher to ‘buy’ and raised its target from 1,128p to 1,184p.

FTSE 100 – Risers
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 93.00p +2.20%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,826.00p +1.95%
Pearson (PSON) 1,026.00p +1.79%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 440.70p +1.66%
Prudential (PRU) 1,332.50p +1.14%
St James’s Place (STJ) 845.50p +1.14%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 76.99p +1.06%
Diageo (DGE) 1,853.00p +1.06%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,350.00p +1.03%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 854.00p +1.01%

FTSE 100 – Fallers
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 465.30p -1.34%
Kingfisher (KGF) 440.20p -0.90%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 1,019.00p -0.68%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 217.70p -0.66%
Tesco (TSCO) 290.00p -0.58%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 206.30p -0.34%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 908.00p -0.27%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 415.50p -0.24%
Sage Group (SGE) 413.00p -0.19%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 1,091.00p -0.18%

Source: ShareCast

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