Tuesday, October 30 09:45:15
Britain's top share index pushed higher today, led by BP after strong results from the oil major, in what is likely to be a quiet session with U.S. stock markets closed. By 0925 GMT, the FTSE 100 was up 35.49 points, or 0.6 percent, at 5,830.59, having shed 0.2 percent on Monday. BP was the standout blue-chip riser, ahead 4.7 percent after hiking its dividend as it delivered a better-than-expected third quarter result. BP accounted for around 15 points of the FTSE 100's advance, having contributed over half the index's points decline on Monday.
Imperial Tobacco also notched up good gains, rising 1.6 percent, after the cigarette group unveiled an 8 percent rise in annual earnings, prompting Oriel Securities to repeat its "buy" rating on the stock. While Tuesday's corporate earnings news flow provided a few crumbs of comfort, overall the earnings season has got off to what traders call an underwhelming start. More than a third of the way through, Thomson Reuters Starmine data shows that 43 percent of European companies have missed earnings expectations. Analysts have cut their fourth-quarter forecasts by 0.5 percent for the companies that have reported.
Standard Chartered headed the fallers' list on Tuesday, off 2.4 percent, reflecting some caution on the outlook for Asia in a third-quarter Interim Management Statement (IMS). "Standard Chartered's Q3 IMS suggests the underlying operating profit growth run rate remained unchanged between H1 2012 and Q3 at a group level with some slowdown in Consumer banking. The statement is cautious reflecting the risks of slowing Asian economies," Oriel Securities said in a note. Trading volumes were expected to be thinner than usual, with Wall Street set to remain shut for a second day as Hurricane Sandy's high winds and heavy rain pound the east coast, flooding large parts of New York City.
"Yesterday's volume was atrocious and today's going to be probably even worse ... Today we're pretty much half-staffed because the U.S. is shut," said Joe Rundle, head of trading at ETX Capital. "Trade is going to be a bit drifty while we wait and see if this (storm) really has a serious effect." Just 9.5 percent of the 90-day daily average daily trading volumes had gone through on the FTSE 100 in the first hour and a half of trade. Insurers, among Monday's sharpest fallers on hurricane costs worries, staged something of a recovery, with Oriel Securities calling the sell-off slightly overdone, though understandable in the light of a strong performance year-to-date. "There is a risk that this will reduce some of the capital returns that could be expected in Q4," the broker said. ( C) Reuters