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London open: Markets lower for fourth day straight

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UK markets opened lower on Friday morning as traders headed into the weekend in a cautious fashion with sentiment still fragile after some heavy falls the previous session.
London open: Markets lower for fourth day straight

Broker downgrades were putting pressure on a number of heavyweight stocks in London today, with Aberdeen, easyJet and Whitbread trading in the red.

The FTSE 100 was trading 0.2% lower at 6,761 in early trading, as it looks set to extend its losing streak to four days.

Stocks across the globe sunk sharply on Thursday after data showed that the manufacturing sector in China had slipped into contraction in January and a barrage of economic indicators from the States came in mixed.

The figures sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average in New York to its lowest level in five weeks yesterday evening, while markets in Asia fell sharply overnight with the Nikkei 225 dropping as much as 2%.

Closer to home, investors were digesting comments made by Bank of England (BoE) Governor Mark Carney who signalled at the World Economic Forum in Davos that his forward guidance plan – which links monetary policy to the unemployment rate – could be scrapped.

Following the sharp drop in the jobless rate registered earlier this week which fell from 7.4% to 7.1% in the three months to November, Carney said that the UK economy was “in a different place” from where it was last summer. However, he stressed that the BoE still does not intend to tighten policy “immediately”.

Markets are now awaiting a speech from the central banker later today to outline his plans fully.

Fund manager Aberdeen fell sharply this morning after receiving a ratings downgrade by Morgan Stanley to ‘underweight’. The bank said that a deteriorating fund performance compounds challenging emerging-market fundamentals, “increasing the risk of negative revisions and further multiple de-rating at Aberdeen”.

Budget airline easyJet continued to fall after its first-quarter update yesterday in which it said that losses in the first half would be worse than last year. HSBC lowered its rating on the company today to ‘underweight’.

Cafe, restaurant and hotel owner Whitbread was also down after Citigroup cut the stock to ‘neutral’.

Packaging firm Rexam was a high riser this morning as investors topped up ahead of its fourth-quarter statement due out next week.

Financial services company Close Brothers Group gained after saying it expects a “strong performance” in the first half of the financial year on the back of growth in its Banking business.

FTSE 100 – Risers
BAE Systems (BA.) 446.00p +2.01%
Rexam (REX) 509.50p +1.70%
TUI Travel (TT.) 424.40p +1.05%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,228.00p +0.96%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 712.50p +0.92%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 981.50p +0.87%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 1,214.00p +0.83%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 347.20p +0.70%
BP (BP.) 491.35p +0.66%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 859.50p +0.59%

FTSE 100 – Fallers
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 401.50p -4.72%
Compass Group (CPG) 940.50p -1.93%
Pearson (PSON) 1,169.00p -1.85%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 484.20p -1.82%
SABMiller (SAB) 2,924.50p -1.80%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 420.60p -1.59%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,802.00p -1.23%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,654.00p -1.19%
Glencore Xstrata (GLEN) 328.75p -1.01%
Experian (EXPN) 1,113.00p -0.98%

Source: ShareCast

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