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FTSE 100: This morning’s risers and fallers

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UK stock markets opened strongly on Tuesday, tracking a late rebound on Wall Street the previous session, on the back of an easing of geopolitical tensions between Russia and the West.

The US and EU yesterday unveiled new sanctions against certain Russian officials in President Vladimir Putin’s ‘inner circle’ and corporations linked to them.

Nevertheless, sentiment was lifted this morning after Moscow assured Washington that it will not invade Ukraine amid reports of Russian troops leaving the border and returning to their bases.

The FTSE 100 was trading 0.4 per cent higher at 6,729 in early trading; it has not closed above this level since 6 March.

“However, the ‘sell in May’ cycle is almost upon us. And with some recent turbulent moves, US technology companies in particular, a sell-off is surely on the horizon. Add to this more tension in the Ukraine and we could see this sooner than we expect,” said dealer Jonathan Sudaria from Capital Spreads.

“That being said, expect more volatility today as both Bulls and Bears jostle for position ahead of a two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting, culminating in a policy announcement on Wednesday.”

Investors were also looking ahead to today’s estimate for first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the UK. The economy is expected to have grown by 0.9%, which would mark the highest rate in nearly four years. GDP in the fourth quarter of 2013 expanded by 0.7%.

Serco plummets after warning

FTSE-250 support services firm Serco dropped sharply this morning after issuing a fresh profit warning and indicating it may have to raise capital through a share placing just days before new Chief Executive Rupert Soames takes up his role.

The embattled outsourcing firm, which operates prisons and welfare to work programmes for the UK government, issued a statement after the close yesterday that said trading has been more challenging than expected and it “may need to reassess the levee of risk implicit in the assumptions underlying our forecasts”.

Premier Inn and Costa owner Whitbread rose as it beat forecasts with strong annual growth across the board and hiked its dividend, adding that it has made a good start to the new year.

Data centre group Telecity jumped after hailing a “good a start to 2014” and keeping its full-year guidance.

UK housebuilder Redrow gained after saying it expects “further good progress” this year, helped by an improved economic outlook and measures by the government to stimulate the housing market.

Wolfson Microelectronics soared after agreeing to a £291m cash takeover offer from Texas-based semiconductor group Cirrus Logic.

Mining stocks were trading slightly lower this morning after analysts at HSBC downgraded their ratings for BHP Billiton, Antofagasta and Anglo American to ‘neutral’.

FTSE 100 – Risers
Shire Plc (SHP) 3,393.00p +3.26%
Whitbread (WTB) 4,153.00p +2.27%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,176.00p +2.17%
St James’s Place (STJ) 779.00p +2.03%
Sage Group (SGE) 425.40p +1.70%
TUI Travel (TT.) 428.50p +1.59%
Carnival (CCL) 2,332.00p +1.52%
Prudential (PRU) 1,348.50p +1.39%
BG Group (BG.) 1,161.50p +1.35%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 608.90p +1.33%

FTSE 100 – Fallers
Fresnillo (FRES) 841.50p -2.66%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 4,604.50p -1.33%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,663.00p -1.25%
Barclays (BARC) 246.00p -1.20%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,885.00p -0.92%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,157.50p -0.88%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 782.00p -0.70%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,511.00p -0.53%
Diageo (DGE) 1,813.50p -0.44%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 96.50p -0.36%

Source: ShareCast