- Barroso expects coalition to be formed 'swiftly'
An underwhelming outcome to the Greek elections and surging bond yields in Spain saw the Footsie swing between gains and losses on Monday morning; by lunchtime, the blue chip index was slightly higher, albeit only slightly.
There was a brief sigh of relief at the market open with stocks racing ahead on the news that conservative party New Democracy came out as a clear leader in Greece's elections at the weekend, beating far-left party Syriza. It is expected to form a majority coalition with pro-bailout partner Pasok which should be enough to allow the country to remain inside the Eurozone for now.
However, gains were quickly pared with experts saying that that very little has changed. Analysts at UBS have said that the outcome "leaves us as we were, with considerable uncertainty".
Meanwhile, analyst Craig Erlam from Alpari said: "If New Democracy and Pasok fail to form a coalition government, this could still open the door for Syriza to form an anti-bailout coalition, or lead to a third round of elections next month. Greece have a bond payment due before that time which could still threaten Greece's position in the Eurozone before a government is formed."
Nevertheless, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said that he expects a coalition to be formed "swiftly" so that discussions can start about helping Greece "turn back to growth."
Turning to Spain, the yield on a 10-year Treasury was up 26.4 basis points at a record 7.138% by midday, a level seen as unsustainable. Investors will be looking ahead to Thursday when the results of the private audit of Spain's financial system are revealed.
FTSE 100: Evraz, Polymetal provide a lift; banks unwanted
Steel giant Evraz was a high riser of the day after Alexander David Securities reiterated its 'buy' recommendation for the stock, while precious metals miner Polymetal was being boosted by an 'overweight' rating from Morgan Stanley. Luxury firm Burberry was making gains despite Deutsche Bank retaining its 'hold' rating.
Leading the downside were the financials with RBS, Lloyds and Barclays among the worst performers. Nomura maintained its 'neutral' view of the UK banking sector this morning, saying that while the initial reaction to last week's new stimulus measures was positive, "we see it more as a trading/short term rally, and a continuation of the volatile price reaction we have seen over the past year."
Supermarket giant Tesco was on the up after clarifying how it will get rid of its underperforming Japanese business as it battles to resume top-line growth in the UK.
In other news, power systems group Rolls-Royce was in demand after signing a submarine contract worth over £1bn with the Ministry of Defence. Media giant WPP rose after acquiring a majority stake in Slovakian advertising agency Communication Group.
FTSE 250: Cable & Wireless takeover on as Orbis concedes
Orbis, which owns around a fifth of Cable & Wireless Worldwide stock, said it would not try to block a takeover bid for the firm by Vodafone, boosting shares early on. Despite initially saying the offer of 38p a share was too low, Orbis said it now believed the deal was inevitable. ??
Engineering buy-out firm Melrose has confirmed speculation that it is in discussions to buy German group Elster, sending shares lower. Reports said the deal could be worth over $2bn, but the firm is so far keeping the terms of any deal to itself. ??
Diamond producer Gem Diamonds dropped after it revealed that production at its Ghaghoo project in Botswana will commence later than originally expected, as 'adverse ground conditions' resulted in the death of two contractors on site.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Evraz (EVR) 280.60p +3.62%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,353.00p +3.44%
Old Mutual (OML) 151.70p +2.02%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,835.50p +1.97%
Ashmore Group (ASHM) 337.40p +1.93%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 495.90p +1.89%
Polymetal International (POLY) 904.00p +1.86%
Wolseley (WOS) 2,213.00p +1.70%
WPP (WPP) 759.50p +1.67%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 2,981.00p +1.57%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 240.40p -2.91%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 30.67p -2.01%
Aviva (AV.) 264.90p -1.34%
ICAP (IAP) 360.90p -1.26%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,379.00p -0.97%
Schroders (SDR) 1,257.00p -0.95%
Xstrata (XTA) 883.30p -0.86%
Babcock International Group (BAB) 865.00p -0.80%
Glencore International (GLEN) 338.20p -0.66%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 247.90p -0.60%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Cable & Wireless Worldwide (CW.) 37.80p +7.91%
Bwin.party Digital Entertainment (BPTY) 121.20p +4.94%
Banks were making a strong rise after UBS lifted its rating for the global banking sector from 'underweight' to 'overweight', saying that the operating environment is beginning to improve. In a research report titled 'Post-crisis banking', UBS said that the tone of its Global FID conference earlier this week was "neutral to slightly positive" and banks are starting to see "improving bottom-up trends". RBS led the risers, with Lloyds close behind. [Fri 14:42]
The FTSE 100 was continuing to trade within an extremely tight range on Thursday morning as investors consider how much further the rally will go given that the index is already trading at levels not seen in five and a half years. [Thu 11:34]
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