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FTSE 100: This morning’s risers and fallers

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Stocks moved slightly lower after China’s Commerce Ministry said the country faces an arduous task in meeting its target for 7.5 per cent growth in gross domestic product this year.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev also told Bloomberg News that his country is being pulled into a second Cold War with the US and its allies.

The FTSE was 9 points lower at 6,835 as of 09:01.

In an interview with Bloomberg News, Medvedev indicated that Russia has prepared a raft of retaliatory steps in response to potentially wider sanctions imposed by the US and the European Union.

That comes as the world continues to watch for signs that Russian forces are indeed pulling back from the country’s borders with Ukraine.

A report from Interfax, which cites Russia’s Defence Ministry, says that “Russian troops have been ordered to pull back after drills in south-western Russia”.

CPI expected to print at 1.7 per cent

Back in the UK, data out today is expected to show that CPI rose by 1.7 per cent year-on-year in April, according to the consensus.

Nonetheless, so-called ‘base effects’ associated with an early Easter in 2013 and increases in fuel prices and transport costs may see a print of 1.8 per cent, Barclays Research believes, close to the 1.9 per cent level at which it sees CPI ending the year.

Forecasts from the Monetary Policy Committee point to CPI at 1.9 per cent even as far out as at the start of 2017.

The retail price index (RPI) is expected to edge higher, towards a rate of 2.6 per cent year-on-year, bolstered by strong house price growth, although as Governor Carney explained just last Sunday, the Bank may yet adopt further measures to restrain house prices.

Acting as a backdrop, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday on how it will become increasingly harder to anticipate the Monetary Policy Committee’s (MPC) decisions come late summer, as three new members – from outside the Bank – come on board.

“The overseas people are going to be able to see the wood from the trees,” one economist told the newspaper.

Sales drop 1.4 per cent at Marks&Spencer’s general merchandise division

In this morning’s company news, Marks and Spencer (M&S) reported a 3.9 per cent fall in annual pre-tax profit to £623m, reflecting a drop in sales at the struggling general merchandise division. General merchandise, the clothing arm which has recently undergone a rapid transformation to turn business around, saw like-for-like sales fall 1.4 per cent in the year ended 29 March. Total UK like-for-like sales rose 0.2 per cent as food sales increased 1.7 per cent.

Legal & General said it has completed the acquisition of Global Index Advisors, giving the UK insurer a bigger foothold in the US pensions market. The acquisition, by Legal & General Investment Management America (LGIMA), is for an initial payment of $30.75m with deferred consideration of $1.5m payable over two years from the date of completion. Further payments of up to a maximum of $18.15m will be made over three years from the date of completion.

Vodafone’s earnings fell 7.4 per cent in the year to end-March as the mobile operator confirmed its expected final dividend of 7.47p per share. Chief Executive Vittorio Colao admitted the group’s performance had been “mixed”, with competitive, regulatory and macroeconomic pressures leading to several write-downs in Europe.

Home emergency repair group HomeServe said costs related to the mis-selling of insurance products ate into full-year profit but it is confident of future progress as it looks to the US for growth opportunities. Statutory pre-tax profit fell to £24.4m for the year ended 31 March 2014 from £66.5m before.

Convenience store food producer Greencore Group reported an 8.2 per cent rise in first half revenue to £619.8m, driven by store openings by major retailers. The company said a rise in employment and a milder winter also boosted revenue in the six months to March 28th, despite a challenging UK grocery market.

Insurer RSA is selling its majority-owned Canadian insurance brokerage business Noraxis Capital Corporation to a subsidiary of Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. for 500m Canadian dollars.

ITV has been upgraded to ‘hold’ versus ‘sell’ at broker Berenberg, while AstraZeneca was added to Citi’s Focus List Europe overnight.

FTSE 100 – Risers
Carnival (CCL) 2,388.00p +3.74%
BT Group (BT.A) 379.60p +2.29%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 378.30p +2.02%
ITV (ITV) 175.70p +1.68%
Whitbread (WTB) 3,998.00p +1.42%
Sage Group (SGE) 402.40p +1.18%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 327.20p +1.08%
St James’s Place (STJ) 753.00p +1.07%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,633.00p +1.05%
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 2,206.00p +0.96%

FTSE 100 – Fallers
Vodafone Group (VOD) 209.20p -3.66%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 439.90p -2.46%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 4,200.00p -2.04%
Tesco (TSCO) 306.85p -1.65%
William Hill (WMH) 326.10p -1.60%
Fresnillo (FRES) 836.50p -1.18%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 844.50p -1.00%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 341.70p -0.96%
Intertek Group (ITRK) 2,956.00p -0.94%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 212.10p -0.89%

Source: ShareCast