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  • FTSE 100 down 50 points
  • US stocks recover some ground
  • Indivior boosted by profit news

5.09: FTSE stumbles while the Dow finds its footing

The FTSE 100 closed down 50 points, 0.7%, at 7,037, while the FTSE 250 shed 166 points, 0.7%, to end at 22,376.

Residential developer Taylor Wimpey plc (LON:TW. was among the laggards, dropping 2% to £158.95.

Their counterparts across the pond have fared better. At midday, the Dow was up 140 points, 0.4%, to 34,432, and the S&P 500 added 3 points to 4,294. The Nasdaq had a slightly harder time of it, dropping 15 points to 14,515.

“US stocks have managed to ignore the weak lead given by European markets this morning and are striding ahead, putting some clear water between them and struggling indices this side of the Atlantic,” IG Chief Market Analyst Chris Beauchamp wrote. “A better-than-forecast ADP report has given a lift to the Dow, which has found the strength to close some of the recent performance gap with the S&P 500, with a strong performance from Goldman Sachs and Boeing doing a lot of the heavy lifting.”

4.08pm: Taylor Wimpey and peers subside

Leading shares are heading lower again, despite Wall Street picking up the pace a little after the US jobs data.

The FTSE 100 is down 39.1 points or 0.55% at 7048.45 as Delta variant worries persist, but it is still off the day’s low of 7010.

And after an edgy start the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 131 points or 0.38% while the S&P 500 is 0.13% better. The Nasdaq Composite is the exception, falling 0.04% after hitting a new peak on Tuesday.

In the UK there are a mixed bag of movers as investors try to square their books at the month and quarter end.

Housebuilders, which have been on the rise in recent days, have fallen back. 

Taylor Wimpey PLC (LON:TW.) is down 1.66%, Berkeley Group PLC (LON:BKG) has fallen 1.6%, Barratt Developments PLC (LON:BDEV) has lost 1.47% and Persimmon PLC (LON:PSN) is off 0.64%.

Among the risers are catering firm Compass Group PLC (LON:CPG), up 1.77%, and J Sainsbury PLC (LON:SBRY), 1% better.

Chris Beauchamp at IG said: “Those hoping that the global recovery is still on track will be cheered by the strength shown by Compass Group in early trading.

“A steady bounce since October seems set to continue as the shares stabilise around the lows of the week at £15, and should put the shares on to a stronger footing if further good data on the US and other economies flows through July and August. As a global outsourcer, Compass is still one to watch as the world recovers from the global pandemic.”

3.27pm: Dixons shares turn positive

Quite the turnaround for Dixons Carphone PLC (LON:DC.).

Its shares fell to a day’s low of 120.6p in the wake of its results.

But they are now up 5.78% or 7.1p at 130p, perhaps because of suggestions that private equity might take a look at the electrical retailer.

After all, if Morrisons has received an approach, pretty much the whole retail sector could be in play.

As pointed out earlier, Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell believes Dixons – soon to be renamed Currys – could prove attractive to a predator: “Dixons could easily be a takeover target given it has a net cash position, it is generating lots of free cash flow, it boasts a strong brand in Curry’s, and strategically it has already done a lot of hard work to fix the problems of the past.”

2.41pm: Wall Street lower at the opening bell

Wall Street’s main indices have started Wednesday’s session on a cautious note despite the latest ADP jobs numbers coming in better than expected.

In the first minutes of trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.01% at 34,289 while the S&P 500 dropped 0.06% to 4,289 and the Nasdaq fell 0.27% to 14,488.

Back in London, the FTSE 100 was slipping further into the red into late afternoon, falling 27 points to 7,060 at around 2.40pm.

1.24pm: US job figure beat forecasts

More signs of strength in the US economy with stronger than expected employment figures.

Ahead of the widely watched non-farm payroll numbers on Friday, the latest report from private payroll company ADP shows 692,000 jobs were added last month.

This is a fall from the figure of 886,000 the previous month –  revised down from 978,000 –  but better than the forecast 550,000 to 600,000.

Nela Richardson, chief economist at ADP, said: “The labor market recovery remains robust, with June closing out a strong second quarter of jobs growth.

“While payrolls are still nearly 7 million short of pre-COVID19 levels, job gains have totaled about 3 million since the beginning of 2021. Service providers, the hardest hit sector, continue to do the heavy lifting, with leisure and hospitality posting the strongest gain as businesses begin to reopen to full capacity across the country.”

The news has seen a slight improvement in expectations for the Wall Street open, with all three main indices virtually flat. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is expected to open down 0.08%, the S&P 500 down 0.07% and the Nasdaq Composite 0.03%.

The FTSE 100 meanwhile is down 26.32 points or 0.37% at 7061.23.

12.27pm: Investors braced for US jobs figures

Wall Street is set for a slight decline at the open.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is expected to slip 44 points or 0.16% while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite – which both hit new peaks on Tuesday – are also marginally lower, down 0.1% and 0.03% respectively.

But so far this year the S&P is up 14% and the Dow and Nasdaq 12%, as investors shrugged off inflationary worries and concentrated on signs of the economy emerging stronger from the pandemic.

In terms of this week’s data, Friday sees the main course as far as investors are concerned, with the non-farm payroll numbers for June.

But today we get the hors d’oevres in the form of the ADP private payroll survey. This is expected to show some 550,000 to 600,000 new jobs were added this month, after the massive 978,000 figure in May.

Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote, said: “Generally, ADP data acts as a practice release before Friday’s jobs data. In theory, there is not much correlation between the two prints, but the ADP read still puts investors in the jobs data mood.

“The expectation is that the US economy added some 555,000 new private jobs in June, but the predictions should be taken with a pinch of salt, as last month, the expectation was some  650,000 job additions and we ended up with a number close to a million. Today, we need a strong number to keep the mood upbeat among investors. Any softness in jobs figures, on the other hand, could hardly get the Fed more accommodative with inflation hovering around the 5%, and with potentially an increased period of supply shortages and slow logistics.  

“Therefore, the jobs figure for June in the US better be good. Otherwise, we shall see some selloff starting from today, following the ADP figure.”

Back in the UK, the FTSE 100 continues to recover a little and is now down 30.46 points or 0.43% at 7057.09.

11.38am: Entain and Flutter slip back

Perhaps surprisingly, England were favourites to beat Germany in Tuesday’s Euro 2020 clash.

And given bookies do not really like favourites to win, the goals from Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane that sent the Three Lions through to the next round have not gone down well with listed betting companies.

Entain PLC (LON:ENT), owner of Ladbrokes, Coral and Bwin, is down 1.94% at 1745.5p while Paddy Power and Betfair operator Flutter Entertainment PLC (LON:FLTR) has fallen 1.5% to 13,175p.

The two are another dampener on the FTSE 100, which is off its worst levels but still 40.97 points or 0.58% lower at 7046.53.

10.35am: UK GDP figures slightly worse than forecast

Market sentiment is not being helped by slightly worse than expected first quarter UK economic growth figures.

UK GDP shrank by 1.6% in January to March, compared to an initial estimate of a 1.5% decline.

The fall was driven by the service sector, not surprisingly since shops and restaurants were closed during lockdown.

The savings ratio grew to 19.9% as people saved money at the second highest rate on record.

The FTSE 100 continues to fall as investors square up their books for the end of the month and quarter, and is now down 64.36 points or 0.91% at 7023.19.

This is the lowest level since the middle of June, and it comes despite a dip in sterling which should normally give the index a lift.

9.42am: Miners undermine market

Weakness in the commodities market continue to undermine the sector, and is helping to hold back the FTSE 100.

Glencore PLC (LON:GLEN) is down 1.63%, Anglo American PLC (LON:AAL) is off 1.45% and – with precious metal prices also subdued – gold and silver miner Fresnillo PLC (LON:FRES) has fallen 1.42%.

Meanwhile the decline in the FTSE 100 is accelerating, with the leading index now down 46.56 points or 0.66% at 7040.99

ITV PLC (LON:ITV) has managed to buck the trend, up 0.32%, which is ironic given that the England-Germany match was on the BBC, as will be the Ukraine-England clash on Saturday. Still there is always Love Island.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 is also lower, but not in the same league as the leading index, down 0.17% at 22,504.65.

Among the fallers is Dixons Carphone PLC (LON:DC), down 1.71% despite turning a £140mln full year loss into a £33mln profit and restating the dividend.

The cost of revamping its mobile business, including shutting Carphone Warehouse stores, hit revenues, and the company is dependent on the outlook for the UK economy.

But it may also become a bid target, according to Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

He said: “All this hard work to reshape the group won’t go unnoticed in the private equity world. Dixons could easily be a takeover target given it has a net cash position, it is generating lots of free cash flow, it boasts a strong brand in Curry’s, and strategically it has already done a lot of hard work to fix the problems of the past.

“The company’s valuation is relatively cheap..A private equity buyer could find ways to accelerate growth and push the Currys brand even harder.”

9.11am: Virus worries re-emerge

Investors are also worried about the recent jump in coronavirus infections in the UK, and the impact not only on the NHS but also the economy.

A further 20,479 cases were reported on Tuesday, the second consecutive day with more than 20,000 cases.

So the FTSE 100 has slipped further, down 13.07 points or 0.18% at 7074.48.

Still, the index is on course for its fifth straight month of gains, its best performance since 2016.

And some believe the recent run can continue, albeit with caveats.

Nigel Green, chief executive of financial advisory group deVere said: “Global stocks are headed for their second-best performance since 1998 for the first half of this year. 

“[And] the current bull run in stock markets will continue for the second half of 2021.

“The continuing robust economic growth in major economies, strong corporate earnings, ultra-low interest rates, and a sleeping bond market, will all mean that investors looking for yield will keep piling into equities, topping up their portfolios to build wealth.”

But he added: “Investors must avoid complacency in the second half 2021. There are two key things they should watch out for.

“First are changes to policies as central banks and governments look to scale back their unprecedented support, which has helped bolster asset prices.

“Second is inflation. It remains too early to say either way whether inflation is transient or persistent. But the debate will stir-up volatility which will define the second half of 2021 in global financial markets.

“Of course, if we get more sustained inflation, central banks will have to start moving sooner rather than later on interest rates.”

Neil Wilson of Market.com said: “The FTSE 100 is heading into the final day of trading for the quarter up 5.4%, and up 9.5% for the year so far, and is just about holding gains for the month of June despite a soft week.

“The FTSE 100 still has a long way to go before it recaptures its pre-pandemic highs but should have more room to run. With a dividend yield of 3% versus 2.3% on German blue chips and less than 2% for the US equivalents, and PE of 17 versus 19 on the DAX and 28 on the S&P 500, it offers considerable value still.”

8.40am: No Euro bounce for UK market

If investors were expecting a Euro’s inspired resurgence in equity prices after England’s victory over Germany, they were to be sadly disappointed.

For the FTSE 100 made a subdued start to proceedings.

Strategist Jim Reid at, yes, Deutsche Bank said: ” I can’t believe at the start of my career that equity markets genuinely went up in countries that won important matches at major tournaments. Life was so much simpler back then.”

Traders seemingly had their eye on one thing only – it wasn’t football, but US nonfarm payrolls on Friday.

It is uncertain whether the latest American jobs update will fuel or quell inflationary worries that are haunting the market. And that lack of clarity over rising prices seems to be reflected in global equity markets, which don’t know which direction to jump.

Wall Street closed marginally higher on Tuesday, while the performance of Asia’s main markets was mixed. The jitteriness has been there since the start of the week.

On the market, it was another down day for British Airways owner IAG (LON:IAG) amid worries over further international travel restrictions. The stock opened 2% lower, as did easyJet (LON:EZJ) shares.

Rolls Royce (LON:RR.), which makes the jet engines for major airlines such as IAG, was off 1.3% in the early exchanges.

Holiday stocks TUI (LON:TUI) and Carnival (LON:CCL) were also marked down.

On the up was Indivior (LON:INDV). Its shares jumped 11% after the company, which specialises in addiction treatments, said its revenues and profits would be higher than previously expected.

6.50: Subdued start predicted 

The FTSE 100 is expected to start a few points higher on Wednesday as positive momentum began to stall in equities markets.

Spread-betters IG are predicting the blue-chip index will open up around 7 points after ending Tuesday’s session 15 points higher at 7,087.

Expectations of a marginally higher open followed a similarly mild ascent on Wall Street overnight, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing up just 0.03% at 34,292 while the S&P 500 inched up 0.03% to 4,291 and the Nasdaq rose 0.19% to 14,528.

The performance in Asia is looking more mixed this morning, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 up 0.05% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.15%.

Positive momentum in the markets appears to be slowing amid lingering concerns over tapering from the Federal Reserve, however some traders will be keeping an eye on the US ADP jobs figures later today as a forerunner to the all-important non-farm payrolls on Friday.

On currency markets, the pound was up 0.1% against the dollar at US$1.385, although UK GDP data later today could provide a catalyst for movement.

Around the markets:

Sterling: US$1.385, up 0.1%

Brent crude: US$75.11 a barrel, up 0.47%

Gold: US$1,761 an ounce, down 0.94%

Bitcoin: US$34,883, up 0.6%

6.50am: Early Markets – Asia / Australia

Stocks in the Asia-Pacific region were mostly higher on Wednesday as China’s official manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) eased to 50.9 in June from 51 in May.

China was hit by a resurgence of Covid-19 cases last month in the major export province of Guangdong that led to port disruptions.

The Shanghai Composite rose 0.41% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slipped 0.15%

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 lifted 0.12% and South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.47%.

Shares in Australia gained, with the S&P/ASX 200 trading 0.50% higher.

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