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London midday: Stocks push higher as retailers rally; jobs data in focus

By Michele Maatouk

Date: Tuesday 16 Apr 2019

London midday: Stocks push higher as retailers rally; jobs data in focus

(Sharecast News) - London stocks pushed a little higher by midday on Tuesday as investors mulled the latest reading on the UK jobs market, with some well-received updates from retailers lending support.
The FTSE 100 was up 0.4% at 7,464.27, while the pound was down 0.1% against the dollar and the euro at 1.3084 and 1.1581, respectively, pretty much unmoved after data from the Office for National Statistics showed that levels of employment in Britain rose 179,000 to a record high in the three months to February.

The ILO unemployment rate remained at 3.9%, while wages grew 3.4% compared to a year earlier, excluding bonuses. Total pay including bonuses stayed steady at 3.5%, while normal pay growth for January was revised up to 3.5%.

By another measure that is watched by members of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee, wage growth excluding-bonuses on a three-month annualised basis fell below 2% for the first time in almost two years.

Employment numbers, the unemployment rate and wage growth were all pretty much as economists expected.

More timely data from March revealed that the number of unemployment claimants had risen by a larger than expected 28,200, with the claimant count rising to 3.0% from 2.9% in February.

Howard Archer, chief economic advisor to the EY ITEM Club, said: "While still a very decent report, the labour market is not showing quite the strength of a month ago. This has to be expected in the face of recent heightened Brexit uncertainties, a lacklustre domestic economy and a weaker global economy.

"It is also notable that a number of recent surveys have indicated that a growing number of employers are now adopting a 'wait and see' approach on employment given the current heightened uncertainties.

"It needs to be kept in mind that employment is a lagging indicator, and it takes time for the impact of the economy's overall performance since last summer to feed through."

In equity markets, retailers lent a hand, with Card Factory up as it posted a drop in full-year underlying profit and like-for-like sales but a rise in revenue amid a "tough" consumer environment, with footfall down across the high street.

JD Sports also rose as it reported a 49% increase in revenue to £4.7bn for the 52 weeks ended 2 February, with a 15.5% increase in profit before tax and exceptionals to £355.2m.

Ashmore gained as the asset manager said assets under management were up 11.2% in the third quarter as emerging markets found favour with investors.

Security services firm G4S, which recently became a takeover target for Canadian rival GardaWorld, edged higher as it reported a 4.8% jump in first-quarter revenue and hailed a positive start to 2019.

Premier Oil gushed higher after announcing a further well test success at its Zama discovery off the coast of Mexico.

On the downside, recruitment company Hays was in the red as it reported "good" net fee growth of 6% in its third quarter, with underlying growth of 5% adjusted for the timing of Easter.

Galliford Try shares crumbled as the construction group warned that full-year post-exceptional pre-tax profit would be around £30m to £40m below the current consensus forecast.

In broker note action, BP was a little weaker after a downgrade to 'outperform' at RBC Capital Markets. InterContinental Hotels was initiated at 'outperform' by MainFirst, while LondonMetric was initiated at 'sector perform' by RBC.

Anglo American was cut to 'hold' at HSBC.



Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,464.27 0.37%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 19,874.98 0.34%
techMARK (TASX) 3,578.29 0.49%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Prudential (PRU) 1,739.00p 2.17%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,196.50p 1.70%
Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) 276.20p 1.62%
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 4,915.00p 1.57%
Aviva (AV.) 424.90p 1.48%
Evraz (EVR) 654.20p 1.46%
CRH (CRH) 2,556.50p 1.45%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) 4,932.00p 1.42%
Scottish Mortgage Inv Trust (SMT) 530.36p 1.41%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,016.10p 1.36%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Pearson (PSON) 824.60p -1.34%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 231.66p -1.04%
Centrica (CNA) 108.07p -0.90%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,946.50p -0.69%
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 1,935.00p -0.62%
BP (BP.) 566.80p -0.54%
Anglo American (AAL) 2,158.00p -0.32%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 2,461.00p -0.28%
Informa (INF) 779.80p -0.28%
BHP Group (BHP) 1,897.80p -0.26%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Card Factory (CARD) 188.27p 6.31%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 557.00p 4.70%
Ashmore Group (ASHM) 471.20p 3.47%
Acacia Mining (ACA) 172.20p 2.74%
Wizz Air Holdings (WIZZ) 3,419.92p 2.73%
Sophos Group (SOPH) 365.40p 2.35%
Renishaw (RSW) 4,578.00p 2.32%
888 Holdings (888) 156.90p 2.15%
Essentra (ESNT) 427.60p 2.10%
Restaurant Group (RTN) 128.30p 2.07%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Galliford Try (GFRD) 589.50p -18.75%
Hays (HAS) 156.40p -4.11%
Funding Circle Holdings (FCH) 306.00p -3.16%
Mediclinic International (MDC) 304.70p -2.37%
Daejan Holdings (DJAN) 5,830.00p -2.02%
AJ Bell (AJB) 341.00p -2.01%
Amigo Holdings (AMGO) 244.04p -1.79%
Serco Group (SRP) 124.20p -1.66%
Hilton Food Group (HFG) 945.00p -1.56%
Pagegroup (PAGE) 522.00p -1.51%

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