UK stocks limp lower in quiet early trade Friday, easing back from from their highest levels in a month and a half. The benchmark FTSE 100 drifts down 0.2%, or around 16 points, to 6,618 in early deals with heavyweight oil and mining stocks providing a drag. The index closed at 6,635.45 on Thursday, its highest session finish since 29 September, when it ended the day at 6,646.60.
Economic data from the States will also be in focus during today's trading, with US retail sales and the University of Michigan US consumer-confidence index being closely watched.
Resources stocks hang heavy on the Footsie, as commodity prices weaken with Brent crude, in particular, extending four-year lows. Tullow Oil (TLW) heads the Footsie loser board, down nearly 2.5% at 453.1p, while miners Fresnillo (FRES), Randgold Resources (RRS) and Anglo American (AAL) follow close behind as metals prices weaken. Glencore (GLEN) is also off a fraction at 325.85p on unconfirmed reports that it will stop coal output in Australia for three weeks.
Technology components supply business Premier Farnell (PFL) is a heavy faller after a ‘soft’ profit warning that full-year operating margins would be below last year due to a 'softer trading environment.' The shares tumble 8.2% to 165p. Chief executive Laurence Bain says tough second half comparatives in its US Akron Brass business mean operating margin, and therefore profit, for the full year will be slightly lower than expectations.
Struggling supermarket Sainsbury's (SBRY) edges 1.6% higher to 269.45p on the launch of a £400 million convertible bond offering. The supermarket warned that second half profits would disappoint due to price cutting earlier this week. Rival Tesco (TSCO) is also on the up, nudging 15 higher at 192.9p, as analysts at HSBC upgrade their rating on the supermarket stock to 'overweight'.
Engineering group IMI (IMI) decline after announcing that organic growth eased to just 1% in the third quarter. That news overshadows today's £120 million acquisition of German power valve specialist Bopp & Reuther, the shares dragging marginally at £12.27.
Among the small caps, stamps-to-rare coins retailer Stanley Gibbons (SGI:AIM) is marked up 10p (3.5%) to 295.5p on stonking interim results, an 8% dividend hike to 3.25p and a confident outlook statement. Stanley Gibbons, which completed the acquisition of antiques dealer Mallett last month (20 Oct), benefited from previous acquisitions and strong philatelic trading during the half.
The buzz of excitement surrounding online personal health tiddler Fitbug (FITB:AIM) continues. The shares are up another 26.2% to 7.38p on news that consumer electronics giant Samsung (005930:KS) is including its Kiqplan digital health coaching platform applications in the Samsung Digital Health platform.
Pre-clinical drug research specialist Cyprotex (CRX:AIM) plummets 20.6% to 36.5p as it warns that development delays and falling demand will hit profits this year. The Macclesfield-based company now expects to do no better than break-even.