London open: Stocks slip after China manufacturing data
After a quiet couple of weeks over the festive period, volumes are expected to pick up over the next two days with a significant increase in the number of economic data releases likely to keep traders on their toes.
The FTSE 100, which had risen by nearly 5% in the final two and a half weeks of 2013, was trading around 0.2% lower on Thursday morning at 6,730. For the whole of last year, the Footsie rose by 14.4%, its best annual gain since 2009.
China’s official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI), released on Wednesday, fell from 51.4 to 51, missing the 51.2 expected by analysts. Meanwhile, Thursday’s HSBC/Markit survey showed that the manufacturing PMI declined from 50.8 to 50.5, broadly in line with forecasts.
While both figures came in above 50, indicating growth, they showed that the rate of manufacturing expansion had decelerated during the month.
“If we continue to see declines here, people are going to start to worry about whether China can maintain such high growth rates in 2014,” said Market Analyst Craig Erlam from Alpari. “Last year, only a targeted stimulus programme from the government prevented growth falling below 7%, these figures suggest similar efforts may be needed in 2014,” he said.
Other data out today includes manufacturing PMIs from the UK, Eurozone and US, as well as initial jobless claims and construction spending figures from the States.
Retailers were performing well today, recovering after a Debenhams-inspired sell-off on Tuesday following its profit warning. The stock rose this morning on the news that its Chief Financial Officer Simon Herrick would be stepping down.
Sentiment in the industry has also recovered slightly after retail bellwether John Lewis reported strong sales in the lead-up to Christmas. Kingfisher, Sainsbury, Tesco and Sport Direct were all making gains this morning. Next was also wanted ahead of its trading update due out tomorrow.
Royal Dutch Shell fell despite the news that it has completed the purchase of $4.1bn of liquefied natural gas (LNG) assets from Spanish rival Repsol at a better price than previously announced.
Sector peer Ophir Energy slumped after it failed to discover oil or gas in the first of its much-anticipated “high impact” wells drilled offshore Tanzania in 2014. The highly prospective Mlinzi Mbali-1 well in Ophir’s 80%-owned Block 7 was found to be water-bearing, a disappointing result in what is thought to be one of the largest prospects to ever be drilled in the region.
FTSE 100 – Risers
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 92.65p +1.37%
Kingfisher (KGF) 389.80p +1.33%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 341.90p +1.12%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,366.00p +0.89%
Royal Mail (RMG) 575.00p +0.88%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,464.00p +0.78%
Next (NXT) 5,485.00p +0.64%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 719.00p +0.56%
Experian (EXPN) 1,120.00p +0.54%
BAE Systems (BA.) 437.30p +0.53%
FTSE 100 – Fallers
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 490.60p -1.88%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,299.50p -1.55%
TUI Travel (TT.) 408.30p -1.16%
G4S (GFS) 259.70p -1.07%
Fresnillo (FRES) 737.50p -1.07%
Centrica (CNA) 344.00p -1.06%
Carnival (CCL) 2,477.00p -0.96%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,852.50p -0.88%
Unilever (ULVR) 2,461.00p -0.85%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 817.00p -0.85%