- Cooling inflation in China boosts stimulus hopes
- ECB cuts growth forecasts
London's Footsie swung between gains and losses on Thursday as hopes of Chinese stimulus were offset by concerns about weak growth in the Eurozone; however, the benchmark index finished slightly in the blue as it extended its winning streak to five straight days.
Chinese consumer price inflation slowed to 1.8% in July from a 2.2% increase in June, according to the National Bureau of Statistics in Beijing. While this was broadly in line with expectations, analysts are saying this morning that this has left the door open to more monetary easing in the world's second-largest economy.
However, the European Central Bank's (ECB's) monthly report dampened sentiment today after the Bank downgraded its growth prospects for the Eurozone economy. The ECB now expects the region to contract by 0.3% this year, slightly worse than the 0.2% fall originally estimated, while 2013 growth will be 0.6%, under the previous forecast of 1%.
"Survey indicators generally disappointed in July, hinting at a further weakening of momentum entering 3Q12. While we still project EMU-wide real GDP to shrink another 0.2% in the current quarter, we now see some modest downside risks to our forecast," said analysts at UniCredit in an emailed note this afternoon.
The ECB's growth downgrades come one day after the Bank of England reduced its forecasts for gross domestic product in the UK, now expecting no growth for the economy this year.
Meanwhile, DBRS has decided to cut Spain's rating two notches to 'A (low)' and downgraded Italy by one notch to 'A', although it kept its negative outlook on both countries. The Canadian credit ratings agency is one of the four used by the ECB to determine the charges when accepting sovereign debt as collateral.
FTSE 100: AMEC drops on slowing underlying growth
Engineering and consultancy group AMEC may have reiterated its full-year revenue guidance but investors expressed their disappointment after it revealed that underlying sales growth would slow "significantly" going into the second half. Nevertheless, the group reported a 25% jump in first-half earnings and hiked its dividend by 15%.
"Some investors are never happy but given the shares were trading just below one-year highs perhaps some of the value was already priced in," said market analyst Michael Hewson from CMC Markets.
Under-fire bank Standard Chartered was a high riser as it continues to rebound from its 16% drop on Tuesday on the back of alleged dealings with the Iranian government.
Gold miner Randgold Resources jumped after seeing profits surge in the first half of 2012 on the back of a record performance from its flagship Loulo-Gounkoto complex in Mali. Mining peers Glencore, Antofagasta and Xstrata were also higher on hopes that additional stimulus in China will boost the demand for commodities.
Struggling insurance giant Aviva edged lower after reporting a 10% fall in half-year operating profits as foreign exchange fluctuations and restructuring costs hit the bottom line.
FTSE 250: Ocado drops after downgrade
Shares in online grocery group Ocado took a hit today after UBS downgraded the stock from 'neutral' to 'sell', saying that consensus estimates are too bullish for next year and there is evidence of demand growth slowing. ? ??
Heavy rain has hit Bumi's output this year, causing shares to slip this morning. Nevertheless, an improved performance in the second quarter should continue into the second half (weather permitting), ensuring most of the miner's production shortfall is made good. ?
?Residential property owner and manager Grainger gained after saying it has put in a strong operational performance in the third quarter but did caution the fragility of the economic backdrop.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,363.00p +3.61%
ITV (ITV) 83.20p +2.40%
IMI (IMI) 899.50p +2.16%
Glencore International (GLEN) 344.80p +2.04%
Bunzl (BNZL) 1,167.00p +1.74%
Resolution Ltd. (RSL) 217.00p +1.73%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 2,255.00p +1.71%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 6,290.00p +1.62%
Imperial Tobacco Group (IMT) 2,532.00p +1.56%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,369.00p +1.41%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Amec (AMEC) 1,103.00p -4.83%
Evraz (EVR) 273.10p -2.46%
BT Group (BT.A) 216.30p -2.44%
Smiths Group (SMIN) 1,057.00p -1.67%
Centrica (CNA) 324.00p -1.61%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 226.00p -1.27%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 151.40p -1.24%
British Land Co (BLND) 543.00p -1.18%
Hammerson (HMSO) 464.00p -1.15%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 749.00p -1.06%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 554.00p +5.02%
Grainger (GRI) 97.00p +4.30%
Daejan Holdings (DJAN) 3,323.00p +4.14%
Salamander Energy (SMDR) 197.10p +3.36%
Elementis (ELM) 215.00p +2.97%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 305.00p +2.87%
Bwin.party Digital Entertainment (BPTY) 95.80p +2.79%
Shares in dual-listed oil and gas exploration company Range Resources rose sharply on Wednesday morning after the company reported that probable reserves of 2.3m barrels of oil had been independently estimated at its Atzam site in Guatamala. [20 Feb '13]
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