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24 Feb 2021 | 10:58

London midday: Stocks steady as investors mull Lloyds, Reckitt results

(Sharecast News) - London stocks had pared earlier losses to trade flat by midday on Wednesday as sterling came off its highs, with results from the likes of Reckitt Benckiser and Lloyds in focus. The FTSE 100 was steady at 6,624.35, while sterling was up 0.1% against the dollar at 1.4130, off earlier highs, having hit $1.42 for the first time since April 2018.

A stronger pound tends to dent the top-flight index as around 70% of its constituents derive most of their earnings from overseas.

IG analyst Joshua Mahony said: "Value names are once again leading the way in the UK, with rising yields putting pressure on those stocks that have already enjoyed a particularly strong 2020.

"Yesterday's rebound for US stocks failed to extend to tech stocks, with that Nasdaq underperformance leading to a similar downward move for Asian tech names overnight. Jerome Powell did his best to allay fears over a potential tightening phase for monetary policy, with the governor stating that we remain some way from seeing the kind of inflation and employment conditions required to start that journey to higher rates.

"Nonetheless, the rise in Treasury yields in 2021 is likely to benefit value over growth, with the FTSE 350's reliance on services and commodity stocks likely to drive outperformance in the months ahead. For investors, the road ahead has gained a significant degree of certainty, with airlines and cinema stocks in particular gaining significant traction as they look forward to a sharp recovery in revenues."

In equity markets, InterContinental Hotels was knocked lower by a downgrade to 'hold' at Deutsche Bank a day after its full-year results.

Vodafone fell after confirming that it plans to float its European tower infrastructure company, Vantage Towers, on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange before the end of March.

Aviva was in the red as it said it was exiting its Turkish business, a day after announcing the sale of its French unit.

Lloyds Bank reversed earlier gains to trade a little weaker as it reported a 72% slump in annual profits, reflecting the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, but reinstated dividend payments.

On the upside, shopping centre owners British Land and Land Securities rose amid news that non-essential stores in England will reopen in April.

Consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser was a touch higher after it posted a surge in full-year revenues as demand for cleaning and hygiene products spiked during the pandemic.

Housebuilders Barratt, Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon were all up amid reports the stamp duty holiday will be extended until the end of June.

Travel & leisure stocks were on the rise again amid the prospect of easing restrictions, with British Airways owner IAG, Tui and Carnival all higher. Office space provider Workspace was also in the black amid expectations that workers will begin returning to offices in the next few months.

Tesco was boosted by an upgrade to 'outperform' at Credit Suisse, while Irish convenience food company Greencore rallied after an upgrade to 'buy' at HSBC.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 6,624.35 -0.02% FTSE 250 (MCX) 21,273.59 1.03% techMARK (TASX) 4,034.89 0.45%

FTSE 100 - Risers

International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 187.60p 3.30% Avast (AVST) 474.40p 2.60% Polymetal International (POLY) 1,535.00p 2.50% Land Securities Group (LAND) 669.00p 2.06% British Land Company (BLND) 511.20p 2.00% Anglo American (AAL) 2,856.00p 1.98% Flutter Entertainment (FLTR) 14,040.00p 1.96% Ashtead Group (AHT) 4,043.00p 1.92% Barratt Developments (BDEV) 696.80p 1.87% BAE Systems (BA.) 494.00p 1.75%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 5,100.00p -2.41% Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,398.00p -2.28% Vodafone Group (VOD) 127.24p -2.08% Unilever (ULVR) 3,849.00p -1.81% BT Group (BT.A) 130.00p -1.74% Informa (INF) 546.80p -1.51% NATWEST GROUP PLC ORD 100P (NWG) 183.00p -1.51% Auto Trader Group (AUTO) 577.20p -1.40% United Utilities Group (UU.) 888.40p -1.40% Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 38.69p -1.35%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Workspace Group (WKP) 824.50p 7.36% TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 424.50p 6.63% Hammerson (HMSO) 24.16p 6.38% Network International Holdings (NETW) 393.80p 5.86% Dixons Carphone (DC.) 119.30p 5.48% Rank Group (RNK) 172.00p 5.39% Pets at Home Group (PETS) 399.60p 5.16% Carnival (CCL) 1,565.00p 5.07% Marshalls (MSLH) 674.50p 4.57% Capita (CPI) 43.84p 4.56%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

JPMorgan Japanese Inv Trust (JFJ) 672.00p -4.00% SSP Group (SSPG) 354.00p -3.96% Elementis (ELM) 125.40p -3.32% ICG Enterprise Trust (ICGT) 970.00p -2.02% Baillie Gifford Japan Trust (BGFD) 1,076.00p -1.65% Schroder Oriental Income Fund Ltd. (SOI) 272.50p -1.45% Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 2,052.00p -1.35% JPMorgan Emerging Markets Inv Trust (JMG) 141.00p -1.33% Provident Financial (PFG) 285.00p -1.32% VinaCapital Vietnam Opportunity Fund Ltd. (VOF) 416.00p -1.30%
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