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FTSE 100: This morning’s risers and fallers

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UK stocks were struggling for direction on Wednesday morning as investors continued to show caution ahead of the European Central Bank (ECB) policy meeting on Thursday and the all-important US jobs report on Friday.

The FTSE 100 was just a few points higher at 6,840 in early trading after falling to a 6,836.30 on Tuesday, its lowest close since May 23rd.

“Traders continue to pass time until this week’s big economic releases,” according to Jonathan Sudaria, a dealer at Capital Spreads. “With no one in a rush to do anything, markets are still hovering near their recent highs but with no one willing to bet big ahead of the central bank meetings and payrolls, the natural position squaring is leading to a consolidation of price action.”

However, he said that today’s data – UK services and US labour figures – “may jolt traders out of their lull”.

The Markit purchasing managers’ index for the UK services sector is expected to slip slightly to 58.2 in May after a better-than-expected jump to 58.7 the month before.

Meanwhile, the ADP US employment report, often seen as a rough guide to Friday’s ‘official’ non-farm payrolls data, will show a 208,000 increase in private payrolls for last month, according to forecasts, down from a 220,000 gain in April.

Tesco fluctuates as LFL sales slump

Tesco was flat, erasing earlier gains, as the decline in like-for-like (LFL) sales at its UK business worsened in the first quarter with the recent wave of price cuts and competitive measures taking its toll on the top line. UK LFL sales excluding petrol fell by 3.7% in the first three months of Tesco’s fiscal year, worse than the 2.9% drop recorded in the fourth quarter but not as bad as some analysts had feared.

Grocery rivals J Sainsbury and WM Morrison, however, were out of favour after the statement.

Office space provider Workspace jumped after reporting a strong set of annual results, thanks to London’s flourishing technology and media sector, with LFL rent roll up 8.5% in year to £47.4m.

Plastic packaging manufacturer RPC Group was also higher after beating earnings expectations for the full year as acquisitions gave results a boost.

Mining stocks rose this morning after a recent slump. Anglo American, Rio Tinto, Fresnillo, BHP Billiton and Randgold Resources were among the best performers.

National Grid and WPP were trading lower this morning after going ex-dividend.

Other ex-dividend stocks today include Associated British Foods, Bank of Georgia, Debenhams, Evraz, Grainger, Laird and Taylor Wimpey.

FTSE 100 – Risers
Mondi (MNDI) 1,097.00p +2.05%
Fresnillo (FRES) 798.50p +1.66%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 1,047.00p +1.65%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,479.00p +1.44%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 781.00p +1.30%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,157.00p +1.22%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,898.50p +1.20%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,379.00p +1.18%
Standard Life (SL.) 392.60p +1.16%
G4S (GFS) 248.30p +1.10%

FTSE 100 – Fallers
National Grid (NG.) 839.50p -4.33%
WPP (WPP) 1,265.00p -1.79%
Centrica (CNA) 330.50p -1.25%
Barclays (BARC) 241.55p -1.04%
Rexam (REX) 540.00p -1.01%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 205.60p -0.94%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 338.00p -0.88%
SABMiller (SAB) 3,265.50p -0.85%
IMI (IMI) 1,575.00p -0.69%
Meggitt (MGGT) 490.40p -0.63%

Source: ShareCast