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London open: Stocks nudge up as investors mull jobs data

By Michele Maatouk

Date: Tuesday 14 May 2024

London open: Stocks nudge up as investors mull jobs data

(Sharecast News) - London stocks were just a touch higher in early trade on Tuesday as investors mulled conflicting UK jobs data.
At 0830 BST, the FTSE 100 was up 0.1% at 8,420.17.

Figures released earlier by the Office for National Statistics showed that unemployment nudged higher in March, in line with expectations, despite wages continuing to grow.

The unemployment rate was 4.3% in January to March, up from 4.2% previously.

The claimant count also rose in April, by 8,900 on the month and 29,300 on the year, to 1.58m.

The number of payrolled employees fell by 5,000 between February and March, although it rose by 288,000 year-on-year.

The early estimate for payrolled employees for April decreased by 85,000 on the month. Year-on-year it nudged 0.4% higher, to 30.2m.

Job vacancies continued to decrease, meanwhile, down 26,000 on the quarter to 898,000.

The data also showed an increase in average earnings, however, despite the cooling jobs market.

The annual growth in employees' average regular earnings, excluding bonuses, was 6% in January to March. Including bonuses, growth held steady at 5.7%. Analysts had expected it to slow to 5.5%.

Danni Hewson, head of financial analysis at AJ Bell, said: "Andrew Bailey made it clear that ratesetters would be carefully considering the array of economic data barrelling our way between this month's Bank of England decision and the next meeting in June.

"Today's jobs figures do little to move the dial with the labour market continuing to cool but wage growth coming in hot. Once our nemesis inflation is taken into account average regular earnings jumped 2.4%, the highest in almost three years.

"Whilst that does mean a few very welcome extra pennies in our pockets, good news for workers is likely to be viewed as bad news by market watchers.

"Getting inflation down to 2% is only one part of the task the Bank of England is facing. The harder bit will be keeping it down as the impact of those huge energy shocks we felt last year finally wash through the system.

"Every extra penny we feel confident to spend has the potential to add a little bit more kindling to the smouldering inflation pyre and looking at rate cut expectation following the release of today's figures, it's a coin toss as to whether the temperature will reach just the right level by 20 June.

"What we can see is that the post-pandemic labour boom is well and truly over. Though vacancy numbers are still above pre-Covid levels, they are steadfastly ebbing away as positions are filled or businesses re-write their plans. And the conundrum of a stubbornly high economic inactivity rate remains."

In equity markets, telecoms giant Vodafone rallied after it posted slightly better annual results than forecast as it continued to offload businesses and move towards its tie-up with rival operator Three. Operating profit fell 74.6% to €3.7bn, mainly as a result of disposals in the prior financial year, in particular the €8.6bn gain on disposal of Vantage Towers.

Electricals retailer Currys surged as it lifted its full-year profit expectations, hailing a return to like-for-like sales growth. Full-year pre-tax profit excluding the Greek business is now expected to be between £115m and £120m, up from previous guidance of "at least" £105m.

Online electricals retailer AO World also racked up strong gains.

DCC slumped as its full-year revenue and adjusted earnings per share missed analysts' forecasts.

Flutter Entertainment lost ground as it said net losses widened to $177m in the first quarter from $111m, mainly due to non-cash charges.

Bakery chain Greggs fell as it maintained full-year earnings forecasts as underlying sales grew 7.4% in the first 19 weeks of this year in what it called a "challenging market".

Anglo American was in focus again as it announced a "major new phase" in its strategy as it makes radical changes to its business structure to drive shareholder returns and save costs, including the divestment or spin-off of its steelmaking coal, nickel, platinum and diamond operations.

On Monday, the miner said it had rejected a second, £34bn takeover offer from Australia's BHP.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 8,420.17 0.06%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 20,582.73 0.11%
techMARK (TASX) 4,733.99 0.01%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Ocado Group (OCDO) 354.00p 3.51%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 72.26p 3.26%
BT Group (BT.A) 110.55p 1.47%
Fresnillo (FRES) 585.50p 1.30%
Frasers Group (FRAS) 827.50p 1.22%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 706.50p 1.04%
Smith (DS) (SMDS) 370.00p 0.87%
Centrica (CNA) 138.45p 0.73%
Rightmove (RMV) 539.00p 0.71%
BP (BP.) 508.40p 0.67%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

DCC (CDI) (DCC) 5,730.00p -2.96%
Flutter Entertainment (DI) (FLTR) 15,735.00p -2.81%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 415.80p -1.16%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 5,501.00p -1.13%
Haleon (HLN) 326.10p -0.70%
Diploma (DPLM) 4,032.00p -0.69%
Aviva (AV.) 485.00p -0.66%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,404.50p -0.64%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) 9,038.00p -0.62%
Beazley (BEZ) 666.50p -0.60%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Currys (CURY) 70.00p 7.12%
AO World (AO.) 109.20p 5.20%
Elementis (ELM) 152.00p 4.68%
SThree (STEM) 450.00p 3.81%
Oxford Instruments (OXIG) 2,400.00p 2.78%
Keller Group (KLR) 1,170.00p 2.63%
IWG (IWG) 205.00p 2.55%
Target Healthcare Reit Ltd (THRL) 82.70p 1.97%
Dunelm Group (DNLM) 1,036.00p 1.97%
Trainline (TRN) 341.00p 1.91%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Bridgepoint Group (Reg S) (BPT) 227.20p -2.49%
Kier Group (KIE) 139.00p -2.39%
Genus (GNS) 1,830.00p -2.03%
TR Property Inv Trust (TRY) 322.00p -1.83%
Moonpig Group (MOON) 151.40p -1.69%
Fidelity Emerging Markets Limited Ptg NPV (FEML) 699.60p -1.44%
Senior (SNR) 167.00p -1.42%
Redde Northgate (REDD) 400.00p -1.23%
Wizz Air Holdings (WIZZ) 2,176.00p -1.18%
Allianz Technology Trust (ATT) 353.00p -1.12%

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