Well-received results from ARM Holdings and BP and a decent performance from the banking sector helped the FTSE 100 bounce back slightly after Monday's sell-off.
London's benchmark index slumped 100 points yesterday as political uncertainty in the Eurozone dented sentiment: corruption scandals at Spanish Prime Minister (PM) Mariano Rajoy's governing People's Party and rising support for former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi pushed bond yields in both nations sharply higher.
However, yields in both countries have fallen back slightly today, while borrowing rates on 'safer' assets - such as those in the US, UK, Germany and France - rose strongly as risk appetite increased.
Gains on stock markets were cemented this morning by news that the UK services sector returned to growth in January. The Markit/CIPS service sector gauge rose to the 51.5 point mark during the month of January, well ahead of the previous month's reading of 48.9 and the strongest reading since September. The consensus estimate had been for an increase to 49.5.
"European stock markets are staging a mild recovery [...] following the beat-down in the previous session," said market strategist Ishaq Siddiqi from ETX Capital.
"Traders are picking up some recently battered sectors, particularly banks, however the big question is how long this morning's move to the upside can last?"
FTSE 100: ARM jumps after full-year figures
ARM Holdings reported a 16% rise in profit before tax for the fourth quarter, boosted by demand for the company's processor technology for smartphones and tablet devices. Normalised pre-tax profits for the British semiconductor and software design firm came to £80m for the three months to December 2012, compared to £69m for the same period a year earlier.
Financial services group Hargreaves Lansdown was performing well ahead of its interim results due out on Wednesday. Banks were also on the up with RBS and StanChart making gains.
Even Barclays was in positive territory despite announcing that it has put aside a further £1.0bn for redress in the fourth quarter for mis-selling products
Broadcaster and broadband group BSkyB was out of favour after rival Virgin Media confirmed that cable company Liberty Global is considering bid for the firm, which would put it in direct competition with the FTSE 100 market leader.
Insurance giant RSA was lower after Nomura downgraded the shares to 'reduce' ahead of the group' results on February 20th. After the stock's outperformance since November, the broker said that it doesn't "think there will be an additional catalyst to push the stock more from here". Admiral rose after the same broker named it as its "top pick" in the non-life insurance sector.
Profits at oil titan BP slipped in the fourth quarter owing to lower upstream production levels, but the company assured that it well-positioned for growth after moving past "many milestones" last year, causing shares to rise this morning. Underlying replacement cost (RC) profit, adjusted for non-operating items and fair value accounting effects, totalled $4.0bn in the last three months of 2012, down from $5.0bn a year earlier.
Natural gas firm BG Group was lower after posting a 29% fall in fourth-quarter earnings on the back of a decline in cargo deliveries. Earnings for the last three months of 2012 came to $1.0bn, down from $1.4bn the previous year, primarily as a result of $277 million tax credit in 2011.
FTSE 250: UBM and Victrex lead the fallers
Business published and events organiser UBM was in the red after receiving an offer from Electra Partners to purchase a portfolio of UBM's Data Services businesses, known as 'Delta', for £160m. Nomura kept its 'buy' rating for the stock this morning, but said: "The sale will lead to a dilution of about 11.7% on our estimates, putting the stock at a price-to-earnings ratio of c.13.5x-14x, which could cause short-term weakness before the company begins to provide accretion through events acquisitions, we think."
Polymer manufacturer Victrex was a heavy faller after despite saying that the business is showing "resilience in trading" in spite of continuing global economic challenges. The company said that group sales volumes in the four months to January were up 2.0% year-on-year.
Telecoms group TalkTalk was lower despite saying that it customer base returned to growth for the first time in three years during he third quarter.
Europe-focused industrial property specialist SEGRO gained after completing the disposal of its MPM site in Munich one month earlier than originally planned.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 725.50p +4.46%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 927.00p +3.92%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 339.70p +3.38%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,683.50p +2.19%
Aviva (AV.) 358.80p +1.96%
BP (BP.) 470.15p +1.75%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,692.00p +1.74%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 407.60p +1.62%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 51.48p +1.62%
Hammerson (HMSO) 486.50p +1.59%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
BG Group (BG.) 1,080.00p -2.17%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 707.50p -1.94%
Standard Life (SL.) 333.60p -1.21%
Xstrata (XTA) 1,154.00p -0.82%
Glencore International (GLEN) 384.60p -0.67%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,588.00p -0.63%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 811.00p -0.61%
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