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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 open: Stocks edge down ahead of ECB, US GDP data

(Sharecast News) - London stocks nudged lower in early trade on Thursday as investors eyed the latest policy announcement from the European Central Bank and US GDP data. At 0855 GMT, the FTSE 100 was down 0.1% at 7,517.14.

Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "The FTSE 100 has drifted lower in early trade as uncertainty reigns about the trajectory of interest rates in Europe, with exuberance from the Wall Street party not making a mark.

"As attacks in the Red Sea continue, geopolitical concerns are still bubbling, and there are not many fresh cues to help propel stocks higher in Europe.

"Policymakers at the European Central Bank are expected to sit on their hands and keep interest rates on hold, and an immobile stance through the year looks increasingly likely, given some of their recent comments. Investors will be highly attuned to the latest assessment of inflation and growth prospects from President Christine Lagarde. Even though there is has been a rapid slowdown in price increases, and weakness is pervading economies, the ECB is concerned that underlying price pressures in services remain strong and the effect of the Red Sea diversions on goods has not yet played out."

The ECB rate announcement is due at 1315 GMT, while fourth-quarter US GDP figures and initial jobless claims are at 1330 GMT.

In equity markets, St James's Place slid as its fourth-quarter net inflows missed estimates, while online trading platform IG Group lost ground as it reported a drop in interim revenues and profits, citing softer market conditions.

Wizz Air flew lower after the airline said losses widened in the third quarter.

Victrex and Pennon were both in the red as they traded without entitlement to the dividend.

On the upside, Intermediate Capital gained as it reported a jump in assets under management.

Equipment rental firm Ashtead advanced after solid fourth-quarter results from US peer United Rentals.

Iconic bootmaker Dr Martens rallied as it held full-year guidance after third-quarter revenues slumped by a fifth, driven by a poor performance in the US and from its wholesale channel.

Haleon ticked up as it announced the sale of its ChapStick brand for $430m.

Elementis surged following a report that KPS Capital Partners recently explored a bid for the specialty chemicals firm. According to Reuters, the New York-based private equity firm in December submitted an offer valuing the company at about 160p per share, but the Elementis board wanted around 180p.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,517.14 -0.14% FTSE 250 (MCX) 19,119.26 -0.27% techMARK (TASX) 4,345.86 -0.33%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Intermediate Capital Group (ICP) 1,700.00p 3.85% Smurfit Kappa Group (CDI) (SKG) 3,008.00p 1.42% Mondi (MNDI) 1,448.50p 1.33% Ashtead Group (AHT) 4,918.00p 1.11% Rentokil Initial (RTO) 396.80p 0.94% B&M European Value Retail S.A. (DI) (BME) 531.60p 0.72% Admiral Group (ADM) 2,520.00p 0.72% WPP (WPP) 759.40p 0.66% BP (BP.) 455.65p 0.60% Shell (SHEL) 2,393.00p 0.59%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

St James's Place (STJ) 617.80p -8.61% Standard Chartered (STAN) 593.60p -2.59% Melrose Industries (MRO) 580.20p -1.89% Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 41.60p -1.33% Fresnillo (FRES) 494.80p -1.28% Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,924.50p -1.21% Auto Trader Group (AUTO) 721.60p -1.20% BT Group (BT.A) 114.80p -1.20% Scottish Mortgage Inv Trust (SMT) 772.20p -1.08% GSK (GSK) 1,539.40p -0.99%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Elementis (ELM) 131.60p 6.13% Tullow Oil (TLW) 34.44p 2.99% International Distributions Services (IDS) 282.00p 2.47% Group (MONY) 252.00p 2.27% Centamin (DI) (CEY) 99.95p 2.15% Mitie Group (MTO) 101.80p 1.90% Dr. Martens (DOCS) 76.65p 1.73% Abrdn Private Equity Opportunities Trust (APEO) 479.00p 1.70% Essentra (ESNT) 167.80p 1.70% FDM Group (Holdings) (FDM) 460.50p 1.54%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

IG Group Holdings (IGG) 705.50p -8.97% Wizz Air Holdings (WIZZ) 1,928.00p -5.02% Close Brothers Group (CBG) 560.00p -4.19% Victrex plc (VCT) 1,307.00p -3.90% Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 186.90p -3.11% Pennon Group (PNN) 688.50p -2.96% Sequoia Economic Infrastructure Income Fund Limited (SEQI) 81.70p -2.62% Foresight Solar Fund Limited (FSFL) 96.90p -2.52% NCC Group (NCC) 127.80p -2.44% Senior (SNR) 156.00p -2.26%

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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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