LONDON (Alliance News) - Stock in London were higher at midday on Friday with utility companies rising on updated regulations, as the pound staged a rally on a weakened dollar ahead of US nonfarm payroll data this afternoon.In London, the FTSE 100 was up 63.52 points, or 0.9%, at 7,323.37 at midday. The FTSE 250 was up 85.47 points, or 0.5%, at 19,150.89. The AIM All-Share was up 1.72 points, or 0.2%, at 937.31.The Cboe UK 100 index was up 0.7% at 12,405.40. The Cboe UK 250 was up 0.4% at 17,196.62, and the Cboe UK Small Companies was 0.1% higher at 11,734.04."The FTSE is trading higher Friday even though all the major issues concerning the markets remain in a state of flux. It is Theresa May's last day as the Tory leader and for the moment Boris Johnson looks like her most likely successor, in a clear lead ahead of Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt. But it is far too early to call the winner who will have to survive a series of votes by MPs starting on June 18," said CityIndex market analyst Fiona Cincotta. Cincotta continued: "Although the markets assume a stronger pro-Brexit stance from the next Downing Street resident, the big issue will be May's successor's stance on a no-deal Brexit. Market watchers believe that the pound could drop to parity against the euro and potentially even the dollar if no-deal really materialises."Sterling was quoted at USD1.2713 at midday, lower than USD1.2721 at the London equities close on Thursday. Since the market opened Friday, however, the pound is up 0.2%, after being quoted at USD1.2693 early Friday.In London at midday, British Gas-owner Centrica and energy peer SSE were up among the risers in the FTSE 100 - adding 1.7% and 1.4%, respectively. The UK competition regulator said it has provisionally decided to adjust the energy prepayment price cap to "better reflect costs", whilst also advising the energy regulator to extend protection to prepayment customers amid delays to the smart meter roll-out. In January, the UK Competition & Markets Authority launched a mid-term review of the temporary Prepayment Charge Restriction order established in 2016. The order was intended to reduce prices paid by prepayment customers whilst also ensuring supplier can earn a "normal" rate of return from these customers.CMA added that the initial PCR was expected to run until 2020 when the installation of smart meters in UK homes was expected to have been "substantially" complete. The installation of these meters was supposed to make switching suppliers by customers easier as well as increasing competition in the market. Smiths Group gained 1.9% at midday after it appointed JehanZeb Noor as new chief executive officer for Smiths Medical, ahead of the planned spin-off of the unit.In November, the engineering firm announced the spin-out of its struggling medical unit. Smiths Medical will separately list in the UK. Noor will join the company on July 1 to oversee the Medical division's separation, expected to be completed in the first half of 2020. BP was up 1.2%. The oil producer was up amid higher oil prices. Brent oil was quoted at USD62.26 a barrel Friday, up from USD60.52 late Thursday. Royal Dutch Shell A was up 0.6% and Royal Dutch Shell B was up 0.5% but were seen higher earlier in the day. In the FTSE 250, Games Workshop was among the best performers, adding 6.8%, after the miniature wargaming manufacturer said its positive trading continued in its recently ended financial year, and guided for both revenue and profit to rise. For the year ended June 2, the Games Workshop said it expects revenue to be GBP254 million and pretax profit to come in at "not less" than GBP80 million. A year ago, revenue amounted to GBP219.9 million, while pretax profit was GBP74.5 million. Ferrexpo was up 3.9%. The Swiss commodity trader and miner said higher pricing, production and sales volumes will result in a material year-on-year rise in first-half adjusted earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation. For the six months to June 30, 2018, the company recorded adjusted Ebitda of USD234 million on a revenue of USD617 million. The company also announced the appointment of former Ernst & Young executive Graeme Dacomb as independent non-executive director. Dacomb will be chairing the company's audit committee and will be a member of the independent review committee which is looking into matters relating to Blooming Land charity matter. In April, Ferrexpo's auditor Deloitte resigned amid a dispute over potential links between the company's chief executive and a charity being probed for misuse of funds. Ferrexpo disagreed with its auditor's conclusion of a link between Kostyantin Zhevago, its chief executive and controlling shareholder, and Blooming Land Charity, which is being investigated for possible misuse of funds. At the other end of the midcap index, AJ Bell lost 3.5% after Invesco Asset Management sold 38 million shares in the company, raising GBP144.4 million. The shares were sold at 380 pence each, a discount to Thursday's 400p close. AJ Bell was trading at 382.0p on Friday. Following completion of the sale, Invesco will hold 65.6 million shares in AJ Bell, equivalent to a 16.1% stake, down from 25%. Woodford Patient Capital Trust's disappointing week continued as the closed-end investment trust was off 2.2% at midday. The trust was seeing its fourth straight day of sharp falls. Shares in Woodford Patient Capital are down 20% this week. On Monday, high profile fund manager Neil Woodford suspended withdrawals from the equity income fund as the fund's underperformance resulted in a significant outflow of investors. The freeze on redemptions started after Kent County Council asked for its GBPGBP263 million pension fund investment to be returned. As at April 30, LF Woodford Equity Income Fund had GBP4.3 billion in assets. The equity fund is managed by Woodford Investment Management Ltd, which also manages listed Woodford Patient Capital Trust. Trading in Woodford Patient Capital Trust remains unaffected by the suspension. The UK financial regulator late Wednesday said it may open an investigation into LF Woodford Equity Income Fund if there are circumstances suggesting serious misconduct or non-compliance with the rules. Earlier the same day, FTSE 100-listed wealth manager St James's Place terminated its mandate with Woodford Investment Management.Pets At Homes was down 1.2%, after HSBC cut the stock to Hold from Buy.Royal Mail suffered a similar fate, off 2.8%, after HSBC cut it to Hold from Buy.Stocks in New York were set for a higher open on Friday continuing the momentum seen earlier in the week following remarks by Fed Chair Powell that were interpreted by the market as indicating openness to a cut in US interest rates.There was also encouraging news from the US-Mexico trade talks. The neighbours reported progress in their talks on illegal migration on Thursday, but Washington said it was not yet sufficient to prevent US President Donald Trump from slapping a tariff on all Mexican imports."I think that progress is being made," said Mexico's Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard, who heads the country's delegation to Washington."However we don't have a deal, but we have presented our point of view. Tomorrow we will have another round [of talks]," Ebrard told journalists at the end of Thursday's talks.The DJIA was called up 0.3%, the S&P 500 index up 0.3% and the Nasdaq Composite pointed up 0.4%. For the week, the indices are up 2.2%, 2.0% and 0.6%, respectively. Later on Friday, focus will turn to the release of US nonfarm payrolls at 1330 BST.Cincotta said: "US jobless data later today will focus investors' minds, particularly now that the the Fed seems to be sitting on the fence about its next rate move. Though the central bank left rates unchanged earlier this week a subtle change in tone from Powell was taken as a signal that the Fed might start cutting rates sooner rather than later. Other economic indicators don't support the need for cuts as US GDP is still stable and marginally stronger than last year. That said, political pressure is building around a course of action that would balance out the negative effect of the multi-fold trade tensions. The dollar is weaker across the board ahead of the data release at 1330 BST."In Paris the CAC 40 and the DAX 30 in Frankfurt were both higher at midday, gaining 1.5% and 0.8%, respectively. The euro was quoted at USD1.1260, down from USD1.1292 late Thursday. The euro is up 1.2% over the last week.
UK BROKER RATINGS SUMMARY: Morgan Stanley Upgrades HSBC To Equal-Weight