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Important information: The value of investments can go down as well as up so you may get back less than you invest. Investors should note that the views expressed may no longer be current and may have already been acted upon. This is a third-party news feed and may not reflect Fidelity’s views.

London midday: FTSE dips ahead of US inflation reading

(Sharecast News) - London stocks had dipped into the red by midday on Thursday, reversing earlier gains ahead of the latest US inflation reading, with M&S under the cosh after a trading update. The FTSE 100 was down 0.1% at 7,645.39, as investors eyed the US consumer price index for December at 1330 GMT.

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: "Despite a barrage of corporate updates, the main thing on today's agenda for markets is the latest inflation reading from the US.

"The consensus forecast is for the monthly rate of consumer price inflation to edge up from 0.1% in November to 0.2% in December and for the year-on-year figure to move from 3.1% to 3.2%. Core inflation (which excludes energy and food) is expected to stay static at 0.3% and dip slightly on a year-on-year basis from 4% to 3.8%.

"Hotter-than-expected inflation would go down badly with the market as it would give the Federal Reserve more reason to keep interest rates high. It would certainly pour cold water on the idea that rates could be cut as soon as March."

On the corporate front, Marks & Spencer fell after saying it was set to deliver annual results in line with expectations and reporting an 8.1% rise in sales of the Christmas quarter but warning over higher costs.

Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor, said: "The initial share price reaction to the update contains an element of inevitable profit taking after what has been a blistering share price performance, culminating in the group's return to the FTSE 100 in September.

"In addition, and from here on in, expectations and indeed comparatives are likely to become tougher, although at these levels the shares are not looking especially expensive based on historic valuations. This follows a meteoric rise of 97% in the share price over the last year, as compared to a dip of 0.9% for the wider FTSE 100.

"The more recent upgrade of the market consensus to a buy is also reflective that investors still have high hopes for a recovery story which is clearly in place."

Tesco was a little weaker, giving back earlier gains, after it lifted its profit guidance for the full year and delivered an impressive set of third-quarter results, with sales growth picking up sharply during the key Christmas trading period.

Advertising giant WPP slumped after a double downgrade to 'sell' at UBS, which slashed the price target to 700p from 1,200p.

Informa lost ground despite hailing a strong performance in 2023 and expectations of further growth this year.

Taylor Wimpey nudged down, having gained earlier after it said full-year profits would be towards the top of guidance but also cautioned that market remains "uncertain" despite a recent reduction in mortgage rates.

On the upside, Antofagasta was the standout gainer on the FTSE 100 after an upgrade to 'outperform' from 'sector perform' at RBC Capital Markets, which hiked its price target on the stock to 1,800p from 1,300p. Miners more generally were higher as metals price rose.

Premier Inn owner Whitbread advanced as it maintained full-year guidance after a strong rise in accommodation sales during the third quarter, with momentum continuing into the fin al three months of the financial year.

Trustpilot surged as it announced the launch of a share buyback of up to £20m and said 2023 adjusted underlying earnings were set to be above the top end of market expectations.

EasyJet flew higher after a double upgrade to 'buy' at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,645.39 -0.08% FTSE 250 (MCX) 19,346.07 0.34% techMARK (TASX) 4,296.02 0.17%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Whitbread (WTB) 3,660.00p 3.10% Anglo American (AAL) 1,868.80p 2.50% Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,617.50p 2.18% Fresnillo (FRES) 533.40p 1.76% Airtel Africa (AAF) 132.00p 1.69% JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 114.90p 1.41% Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,917.00p 1.40% Legal & General Group (LGEN) 252.60p 1.28% Phoenix Group Holdings (PHNX) 524.00p 1.28% Entain (ENT) 963.40p 1.24%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 264.80p -4.65% Informa (INF) 759.40p -3.29% WPP (WPP) 736.80p -2.98% Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 301.40p -2.52% Barclays (BARC) 149.10p -2.32% Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,289.00p -2.01% Ocado Group (OCDO) 675.20p -1.55% SSE (SSE) 1,835.00p -1.50% Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 46.40p -1.26% HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 623.00p -1.22%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Trustpilot Group (TRST) 171.00p 17.45% Darktrace (DARK) 361.20p 7.63% Bodycote (BOY) 597.00p 2.84% Indivior (INDV) 1,236.00p 2.83% Tullow Oil (TLW) 32.30p 2.74% easyJet (EZJ) 522.80p 2.67% W.A.G Payment Solutions (WPS) 93.40p 2.41% LondonMetric Property (LMP) 188.50p 2.39% Wetherspoon (J.D.) (JDW) 828.50p 1.91% Trainline (TRN) 316.80p 1.80%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Ferrexpo (FXPO) 77.15p -5.34% PureTech Health (PRTC) 193.60p -2.71% Pennon Group (PNN) 735.00p -2.26% Foresight Group Holdings Limited NPV (FSG) 397.00p -1.98% Supermarket Income Reit (SUPR) 82.30p -1.67% ITV (ITV) 61.44p -1.60% Crest Nicholson Holdings (CRST) 214.40p -1.56% Wood Group (John) (WG.) 153.10p -1.54% FirstGroup (FGP) 177.00p -1.39% WH Smith (SMWH) 1,283.00p -1.31%

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Important information: This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to one of Fidelity’s advisers or an authorised financial adviser of your choice. When you are thinking about investing in shares, it’s generally a good idea to consider holding them alongside other investments in a diversified portfolio of assets. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns.

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