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LONDON MARKET MIDDAY: Stocks mixed moments before Autumn statement

22nd Nov 2023 11:57

(Alliance News) - Stock prices in London were mixed at midday Wednesday, with the FTSE 100 edged down slightly, as investors eye the Autumn statement.

The FTSE 100 index was down 2.54 points at 7,479.93. The FTSE 250 was up 139.05 points, 0.8%, at 18,486.68, and the AIM All-Share was up 1.00 point, 0.1%, at 717.31.

The Cboe UK 100 was up slightly at 746.73, the Cboe UK 250 was up 0.6% at 15,988.14, and the Cboe Small Companies was down 0.3% at 13,502.39.

In European equities on Wednesday, the CAC 40 in Paris and the DAX 40 in Frankfurt were both up 0.5%.

The main focus on the local front will be on the autumn statement at around 1230 GMT.

"Today sees one of the big UK fiscal events of the year when the Chancellor of the Exchequer gives his Autumn Statement," Lloyds said.

"He will have two key priorities: first, to provide an update on the economic picture and second to confirm the government’s fiscal strategy and in particular any planned changes to its plans for spending or taxation."

Hunt's Commons statement is expected to contain 110 different growth measures as he seeks to revive the UK's economy and the Tories' election chances.

Investors are hoping that the statement will not echo Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng's mini budget a year ago.

Investors were also weighing up the minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting released on Tuesday evening.

Fed officials indicated interest rates would need to remain high for "some time" judging it as "critical" to return "unacceptably high" inflation to its 2% target. Officials "continued to judge that it was critical that the stance of monetary policy be kept sufficiently restrictive to return inflation to the committee's 2% objective over time."

Scope Markets Joshua Mahony commented: "With markets currently pricing a 95% chance that we have seen the end of the rate hike cycle, the now commonly touted stance that the Fed will tighten further if necessary, remains an empty threat unless we see prices take a notable turn upwards."

The pound was quoted at USD1.2534 at midday on Wednesday in London, higher compared to USD1.2531 at the equities close on Tuesday. The euro stood at USD1.0899, lower against USD1.0926. Against the yen, the dollar was trading at JPY148.81, higher compared to JPY147.91.

Stocks in New York were called mixed. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was called down marginally, however the S&P 500 index were called up 0.2% and the Nasdaq Composite up 0.3%.

In the FTSE 100 index, Sage Group jumped 11%.

The Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England-based software business reported double-digit annual revenue growth, and began a share buyback of GBP350 million. The buyback programme will run until April 23.

Commenting on the results, Chief Executive Officer Steve Hare said: "Small and mid-sized businesses are continuing to digitalise, despite the macroeconomic uncertainty. We are building a resilient platform to deliver sustained, efficient growth, and I am confident that Sage is well positioned to take advantage of the market opportunity in 2024 and beyond."

On the other hand, Kingfisher slumped 5.8%.

The B&Q-owner said sales in the third quarter ending October 31 declined 2.1% to GBP3.24 billion, from GBP3.26 billion a year ago.

In UK & Ireland, sales amounted to GBP1.60 billion during the quarter, up 3.3% year-on-year from GBP1.55 billion.

However, the growth in the UK & Ireland was more than offset by an 8.7% decline in French sales to GBP1.03 billion, from GBP1.10 billion. Sales in Other International fell 3.7% to GBP608 million, from GBP621 million a year ago.

Amongst London's small-caps, TT Electronics dropped 6.6%.

The electronic components said it expects adjusted pretax profit for 2023 to be at the lower end of a market consensus range. It cited the range as GBP43.1 million to GBP46.0 million, having achieved GBP40.4 million in 2022.

TT blamed a machinery breakdown in one of its Sensors & Specialist Components facilities. The breakdown persisted for longer than expected and hit third-quarter profit by around GBP2 million.

Speedy Hire lost 6.5%.

The tool and equipment hire services firm said it expects its annual results to be at the lower end of its previous expectations, as it reports a sharp drop in interim profit.

In the six months to September 30, revenue slipped 2.9% to GBP208.5 million from GBP214.8 million, and pretax profit plunged 58% to GBP5.6 million from GBP13.2 million.

On London's AIM, Plant Health Care plunged 32%.

The maker of biological products for agriculture warned it expects revenue in 2023 to make little progress from the prior year's USD11.8 million.

The challenging market conditions highlighted in the firm's interim results have continued to deteriorate, particularly in the US.

Quadrise rose 27%.

The residual oil technology company announced the successful completion of industrial demonstration tests of its MSAR and bioMSAR fuels at its client's site in Morocco.

"We're delighted to have finally completed this commercial-scale trial in Morocco, which has demonstrated the stability and performance of both MSAR and bioMSAR in one of the client's major facilities," said CEO Jason Miles.

Brent oil was quoted at USD81.50 a barrel at midday in London on Wednesday, down from USD81.74 late Tuesday. Gold was quoted at USD2,002.29 an ounce, higher against USD1,999.42.

Still in Wednesday's economic calendar, there is eurozone consumer confidence data at 1500 GMT. There will also be the US weekly initial jobs claims, released ahead of Thursday's Thanksgiving public holiday in the US.

By Sophie Rose, Alliance News senior reporter

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