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04 Mar 2021 | 12:03

London midday: Stocks down as investors wait on Fed's Powell amid selling in bonds

(Sharecast News) - London stocks were still mired in red come midday on Thursday amid ongoing pressure from rising government bond yields overnight.

Against that backdrop, investors were keenly awaiting any potential remarks from US Federal Reserve chief, Jerome Powell, at an event hosted by the Wall Street Journal, starting from 1605 GMT.

At 1223 GMT, the FTSE 100 was down 0.86% or 57.24 points at 6,618.23 and the yield on the benchmark 10-year Gilt was off by four basis points at 0.74%.

Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said: "Once again the European indices were left playing catch-up after major movements in the US and Asian markets yesterday evening.

"Rising bond yields - an issue that briefly went away at the start of the week after their February-ending surge - helped send the Dow a further 120 points lower last night, forcing it back under 31,300.

"The impact was even more severe in Asia, were a volatile session finished with the Nikkei down 2% and the CSI 3% lighter.

"For reference, last night saw the bench 10-year US Treasury bond yields hit 1.477% - still a way off last week's 1.614%, one-year high, but going in the wrong direction from a market perspective. This, in turn, has left the European markets posting similar losses."

In equity markets, there was an avalanche of earnings reports for investors to wade through.

Aviva was a top performer as it said annual profit was little changed and announced the disposal of its Italian business and a move to reduce debt by £800m.

Sage was a high riser after the software company announced it was commencing a share buyback programme of up to £300m utilising the sale proceeds from recent disposals and ongoing cash generation.

Building materials distributor CRH was up after it lifted its dividend even as it reported a decline in full-year profit and revenue, after what it called a "challenging year", hit by disruption from the pandemic.

B&M European Value Retail gave back early gains despute increasing its guidance for annual earnings after strong trading at its UK business.

Reckitt Benckiser was boosted by an upgrade to 'buy' at Societe Generale.

Housebuilder Vistry was on the front foot as it reported better-than-expected annual profits and resumed dividend payments, driven by a strong second half performance.

Rathbone Brothers and Coats were also higher after the release of their full-year results.

On the downside, miners slumped, with Rio Tinto, BHP, Anglo American and Glencore all weaker.

Entain lost ground as the Ladbrokes owner pulled its dividend despite a rise in annual profits, citing Covid-19 uncertainties.

InterContinental Hotels was knocked lower by a downgrade to 'underweight' at JPMorgan, while molten metal flow engineer Vesuvius slid after posting a drop in full-year profit and revenue as its performance was dented by the Covid crisis.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 6,610.54 -0.97% FTSE 250 (MCX) 21,317.27 -0.56% techMARK (TASX) 4,042.25 -0.27%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Aviva (AV.) 393.10p 2.58% British Land Company (BLND) 515.20p 2.55% Sage Group (SGE) 591.80p 2.14% National Grid (NG.) 827.20p 2.10% Pennon Group (PNN) 925.40p 1.96% Melrose Industries (MRO) 180.25p 1.86% Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 6,192.00p 1.51% International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 219.70p 1.48% Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,885.00p 1.40% United Utilities Group (UU.) 876.20p 1.34%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Rio Tinto (RIO) 5,926.00p -7.91% BHP Group (BHP) 2,213.50p -5.97% Scottish Mortgage Inv Trust (SMT) 1,096.00p -5.68% Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,749.50p -5.05% Glencore (GLEN) 285.30p -4.80% Rentokil Initial (RTO) 460.80p -3.36% Evraz (EVR) 580.60p -3.33% Just Eat Takeaway.Com N.V. (CDI) (JET) 6,550.00p -3.25% B&M European Value Retail S.A. (DI) (BME) 526.80p -3.20% Schroders (SDR) 3,480.00p -3.12%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Rathbone Brothers (RAT) 1,718.00p 8.87% Rank Group (RNK) 190.00p 5.56% Vistry Group (VTY) 952.00p 4.50% Morgan Advanced Materials (MGAM) 328.50p 4.45% Hiscox Limited (DI) (HSX) 900.00p 4.00% Computacenter (CCC) 2,198.00p 3.88% Crest Nicholson Holdings (CRST) 378.80p 3.50% Greencore Group (GNC) 157.60p 3.07% Capita (CPI) 49.29p 2.94% Vivo Energy (VVO) 92.80p 2.54%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Vesuvius (VSVS) 506.50p -8.08% Baillie Gifford US Growth Trust (USA) 313.00p -6.57% Edinburgh Worldwide Inv Trust (EWI) 343.00p -6.28% Renishaw (RSW) 5,975.00p -4.86% Weir Group (WEIR) 1,831.50p -4.71% Allianz Technology Trust (ATT) 2,755.00p -4.34% Synthomer (SYNT) 457.00p -4.11% Ferrexpo (FXPO) 332.00p -3.71% Herald Investment Trust (HRI) 2,120.00p -3.64% Watches of Switzerland Group (WOSG) 623.00p -3.56%
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