FTSE 100 index was up 6.74 points, 0.1%, at 8,254.53 / Image source: Adobe

Stocks in London were mixed at midday Wednesday after an early morning recovery as US tech stocks had recovered, while the CAC 40 in Paris was down ahead of Sunday’s election.

Uncertainty in the political sphere was not limited to France, with so-called ‘gamblegate’ dominating the UK election.

Amongst individual stocks, Phoenix Group mulled the possible sale of SunLife. Small-caps’ ProCook surged, after it said it has swung to a profit.

The FTSE 100 index was up 6.74 points, 0.1%, at 8,254.53. The FTSE 250 was down 6.37 points at 20,357.06, and the AIM All-Share was down 1.09 points, 0.1%, at 766.94.

The Cboe UK 100 was up 0.1% at 821.25, the Cboe UK 250 was down 0.1% at 17,724.31, and the Cboe Small Companies was up 0.3% at 16,919.35.

In European equities on Wednesday, the CAC 40 in Paris was down 0.1%, while the DAX 40 in Frankfurt was up 0.4%.

‘US inflation data on Friday will be a major test for market sentiment, but for now it looks like investors are in a chipper mood,’ said AJ Bell’s Russ Mould.

On Friday there is the latest US personal consumption expenditures data. Before then, on Thursday, investors will be digesting a US gross domestic product reading.

Ricardo Evangelista at ActivTrades said: ‘Personal core expenditure, considered the Fed’s favourite inflation gauge, is likely to impact the Federal Reserve’s stance on interest rate cuts, especially if the reading surprises.’

According to FXStreet, the PCE reading is expected to ebb slightly to 2.6% in May on-year from 2.7% a month earlier.

Stocks in New York were called mixed. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was called down 0.1%, the S&P 500 index up 0.1%, and the Nasdaq Composite up 0.2%.

The pound was quoted at $1.2667 at midday on Wednesday in London, lower compared to $1.2676 at the equities close on Tuesday. The euro stood at $1.0688, down against $1.0705. Against the yen, the dollar was trading at JP¥160.02, higher compared to JP¥159.73.

Back in Europe, upcoming elections in the UK and France have gripped the news.

The Westminster gambling row has rolled on, after a Cabinet minister revealed he had placed bets on the date of the UK general election. It is little over a week until polling day.

Scotland Secretary Alister Jack denied having broken any rules but said he put three wagers on the timing of the July 4 poll, becoming the latest of seven politicians and officials to get drawn in to the controversy.

Labour was also dragged into the row on Tuesday, with the party suspending its candidate Kevin Craig after it emerged he had bet that he would lose to the Tories in the contest for Central Suffolk & North Ipswich.

The French election is also creeping closer, with votes being cast on Sunday.

French President Emmanuel Macron is warning voters against choosing the far right or the hard left, asserting that their divisive policies increase the risk of political ‘conflict and civil war.’ His comments have sparked controversy.

In the FTSE 100, Phoenix Group lost 1.5%, after it said it is exploring a potential disposal of SunLife.

Phoenix, the London-based insurer and pensions provider, said it had made the decision following a strategic review.

‘The group has concluded that this business is no longer core to the delivery of its vision of becoming the UK’s leading retirement savings and income business,’ the company said.

In the FTSE 250, Future shares jumped 9.9% after Jefferies upgraded the magazine publisher to ’buy’ from ’underperform’.

Amongst London’s small-caps, ProCook shot up 21%.

The pots and pans seller reported that revenue in the year to March 31 rises 0.4% to £62.6 million from £62.3 million. It swung to a pretax profit of £700,000 from a loss of £6.5 million.

‘The group has had a strong start to the new financial year with trading momentum continuing to build on the trend established during the last financial year,’ ProCook added.

On AIM, Gelion surged 60%, after it scored a deal with FTSE 100 Glencore.

The battery technology firm penned a joint development agreement with Glencore, aiming to ‘accelerate the commercialisation of Gelion’s next generation battery technologies’.

Brent oil was quoted at $84.89 a barrel at midday in London on Wednesday, down from $85.05 late Tuesday. Gold was quoted at $2,315.90 an ounce, lower against $2,324.50.

Still to come on Wednesday’s economic calendar, there is US new home sales data at 1500 BST.

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Issue Date: 26 Jun 2024