(Alliance News) - The FTSE 100 was drifting on Thursday at midday in London with volatility low and direction lacking as investors in the US sit out the session for Independence Day. Though the economic calendar has been quiet on Thursday, things pick up on Friday with the release of the closely watched US nonfarm payroll figure for June. Preventing the FTSE 100 from making serious strides on Thursday were ex-dividend stocks such as Coca-Cola HBC and International Consolidated Airlines, while Energean Oil & Gas helped to prop up the mid-cap FTSE 250.The FTSE 100 was up 5.75 points, or 0.1%, at 7,615.07 Thursday midday. The FTSE 250 was 23.62 points higher, or up 0.1%, at 19,814.45, while the AIM All-Share was down 0.5% at 919.82.The Cboe UK 100 index was flat at 12,910.86. The Cboe UK 250 was 0.2% higher at 17,717.76, while the Cboe UK Small Companies was down 0.2% at 11,349.75.In mainland Europe, the CAC 40 index in Paris and DAX 30 in Frankfurt were both trading flat."A calm has descended across Europe as expected now that Independence Day has arrived. The Dow and S&P 500 came within a whisker of 27,000 and 3000 respectively, disappointing those who hoped to see the US off into its holiday with a fresh set of milestones," commented IG chief market analyst Chris Beauchamp.He continued: "European markets have been left running on fumes however with the US out of the picture, a situation not helped by the absence of economic data from the scene as well.""However, with both the FTSE 100 and Dax nearly at one-year highs there are signs that European markets are beginning to demonstrate some healthy momentum."Markets in the US are closed for Independence Day on Thursday, re-opening on Friday with focus firmly on the monthly jobs report. This includes the key nonfarm payrolls figure alongside the unemployment rate and wage growth. Friday's release will follow a disappointing print from private payroll processor ADP on Wednesday, which showed 102,000 jobs were added in June, comprised of 60,000 and 65,000 additions in mid-sized and large businesses, respectively, while small firms saw jobs decrease by 23,000.This was below expectations. Consensus, as cited by FXStreet, was for 140,000 jobs to be have been added in June, after just 27,000 were in May."Investors are counting on a substantial number of jobs being created in June," commented Fiona Cincotta at City Index. "While not all US economic indicators are pointing to a slowdown the yield curve on US Treasuries is again showing an inversion which is typically a harbinger of an economic downturn in the US," she explained. In a quiet economic calendar on Thursday, Eurostat reported retail sales in the eurozone slipped further in May.Retail sales volumes fell 0.3% month-on-month in the euro area in May and by 0.4% in the EU28. Consensus, as cited by FXStreet, had foreseen a 0.3% rise. In April, sales had fallen 0.1% in both the euro area and EU28.There was slightly better news from the construction industry, with building activity seeing a mild improvement in June.The eurozone Construction Purchasing Managers' Index read 50.8 in June, little changed from 50.6 in May and remaining just above the no-change mark of 50 which separates expansion from contraction.Across the euro area's three largest economies, increases were registered in both France and Italy. However, growth ground to a standstill in Germany.Germany's construction PMI fell to the neutral mark of 50.0 in June from 51.4 in May, its lowest result since October last year. On the London Stock Exchange, Burberry was among the top performers in the FTSE 100, up 2.2% after Mainfirst upgraded the British fashion house to Outperform from Neutral.At the bottom of the blue-chip list were ex-dividend stocks, with soft drinks bottler Coca Cola HBC slipping 6.8% and British Airways parent IAG also shedding 6.8%.Spirax-Sarco Engineering was another loser, down 2.6% after Goldman Sachs reduced its recommendation on the steam management systems and peristaltic pumps maker to Sell from Neutral.At the top of the FTSE 250 sat Energean Oil & Gas, up 10% after it said it purchased the oil exploration and production unit of Italian electricity and natural gas company Edison for a total consideration of USD850 million.The Mediterranean-focused company has bought Edison Exploration & Production for USD750 million, with an additional contingent consideration of USD100 million payable following first gas from the Cassiopea development, offshore Italy.Energean Oil will fund the initial USD750 million consideration through a USD600 million committed bridge loan facility and equity financing through a new share placing. The share placing - to raise GBP211 million or around USD265 million - will be conducted through an accelerated bookbuild. Elsewhere on the London Main Market, MJ Gleeson was up 5.4% after reporting continued demand for new homes in its most recently ended financial year, resulting in "record" performances of its Homes and Strategic Land divisions.The Gleeson Homes division delivered its largest annual volume growth in the year to the end of June, selling 1,529 homes, a 25% increase compared with the previous year's total of 1,225 homes.The housebuilder said it is confident that the results for the financial year will be "comfortably" in line with expectations. AIM-listed Keywords Studios slipped 9.0% after Peel Hunt downgraded the video game services firm to Sell from Hold.
(Alliance News) - US-China trade optimism in markets gave way to doubts over the outlook for relations between the two, leading the FTSE 100 to slump nearly 70 points at midday on blue-chip index