UK markets hit the skids as the World Bank spooks investors over too greater reliance on the single engine of the US for global growth, while cutting its own global growth prediction this year from 3.4% to 3%. 'Europe has been pretty sluggish, China’s still got that property overhang, Japan’s entered recession - you’ve got the US and UK going fine, so it’s a patchy global growth picture,' explain analysts at investment bank UBS, who go to point out the deterioration of outlook from six months ago.
The price of copper, regarded as a barometer of global economic demand, fell as much as 8% to five-year lows, while weakening oil prices continue to dog global stock markets. US and Asian markets eased overnight. In UK early trade the blue-chip FTSE 100 is roughly 63 points, or about 1%, off at 6,479, while the mid cap FTSE 250 index remains 0.5% points lower at 15,994.
Miners bear the brunt of the hefty falls with Glencore (GLEN) the Footsie's biggest loser in morning trade, down 8.6% at 245.7p, closely followed by Antofagasta (ANTO), down 8% to 652p, and Anglo American (AAL), whose shares are trading 7.8% lower at £10.555.
The continuing fall in the Brent pricing benchmark - down 1.7% overnight to just over $45 per barrel - continues to hamper EnQuest (ENQ) with its shares down 13.7% to 22.4p. Due to its leveraged balance sheet and focus on the North Sea - which has higher costs than other oil provinces - the company is highly geared to movements in Brent.
Mid cap oil producer Premier Oil (PMO) falls 5.4% to 129.2p despite announcing 2014 output marginally ahead of guidance at 63,600 barrels of oil equivalent per day - the market instead focusing on the negative impact of further weakness in oil prices and news of a delay to start up on its Solan field. Premier now expects first oil from the project in the second rather than the first quarter of 2015, capex for the coming 12 months is cut 40% year-on-year to $600 million.
But perhaps the shock of the day comes at specialist video games retailer GAME Digital (GMD), which collapses 41.4% to 204p after slipping out a profit warning late on Tuesday. Heavy discounting over Christmas drove higher volumes but falling sales and given lower margins achieved on console sales, full-year underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) are expected to fall short of consensus, likely flat at £51.3 million.
But it's not all bad on Britain's high streets, fashion retailer SuperGroup (SGP) rebounds 7.2% to 870p as news of far stronger than expected Christmas trading prompts forecast upgrades. The Superdry brand owner, which posted a profit warning in October, reports 12.4% growth in like-for-like sales for the 11 weeks to 10 January. Cold weather from Boxing Day onwards boosted sales of knitwear, coats and jackets and there's news of an record online performance during the Christmas run-in.
Online grocer Ocado (OCDO) weakens 6.7p to 403.2p despite posting a short-but-sweet Christmas trading statement. Sales grew 14.8% for the 31 days of December, though this is shy of Shore Capital's 16.5% estimate and the broker reiterates its long-standing 'sell' stance this morning.
Cinema group Cineworld (CINE) adds 1% to 410p on a positive 2014 trading update despite relatively few blockbusters and the World Cup drag. UK box office revenue is up 0.1% versus a 2.9% drop in the market and management says profits will be towards the top end of market consensus. The strong 2015 film line-up leads Canaccord Genuity to raise its target price from 450p to 500p.
In the technology space, Rosslyn Data Technologies (RDT:AIM) rallies 8.5% to 16p as it seals a five-year, $1 million contract data analytics contract in the US. The deal will see Rosslyn provide cloud-based analytics to Florida's 12-member state universities, including Florida State University and the University of Florida.
New business wins also play out well for mobile enterprise specialist Globo (GBO:AIM) and healthcare finance software supplier Craneware (CRW:AIM), the shares both up about 1% to 43.75p and 507.5p respectively.
Among other smaller caps, blood monitor-maker Deltex Medical (DEMG:AIM) falls 8.5% to 4p as UK revenues dropped 20% in 2014 as hospitals are over stocked. International sales fell 29%, but demand was high in the US with revenues rising 20%. Prelims are due in early March.
Carpets business Victoria (VCP:AIM) jumps 9.5% to 545p as it buys the Whitestone Weavers group of companies, comprising Whitestone Weavers, Carpet Line Direct, Gaskell Mackay Carpets, View Logistics and Thomas Witter Carpets for an initial cash consideration of about £5.75 million.
And investors shouldn't fret over the apparent crash in the shares of Carr's Milling Industries (CRM:AIM), the stock's near 90% collapse to 159p merely down to the completion of its shares subdivision.