ADVFN Morning London Market Report: Thursday 18 April 2019

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London open: Stocks nudge lower ahead of retail sales, Easter break

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London stocks nudged lower in early trade on Thursday following an uninspiring session on Wall Street as investors eyed the release of UK retail sales figures and looked ahead to the long weekend.

At 0835 BST, the FTSE 100 was down 0.1% at 7,467.04, while the pound was flat against the dollar and the euro at 1.3040 and 1.1541, respectively.

Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, said: “We have a bit of a pause for breath with Easter ahead and a raft of earnings coming out next week. Asian indices were softer overnight, taking the lead from Wall St. SPX closed a quarter of a percent lower on the 2900 handle.”

He added that the FTSE 100 could make a stab at the 7,500 level “but there’s already a holiday feeling in the City today”.

On the data front, UK retail sales for March are due at 0930 BST.

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said the figures are expected to paint a rather bleak picture, as consumer spending stalled ahead of the 29 March Brexit deadline.

“Most estimates suggest we could see a decline of 0.3% from the rise of 0.4% seen in February, however there is a risk that this estimate could be understated and we could see a bigger decline,” he said.

In equity markets, BAE Systems was the top faller as it went ex-dividend along with Reckitt BenckiserAggrekoBodycoteCapital & CountiesCentaminDraxHastingsHuntingInmarsatJohn LaingKAZ MineralsNational ExpressNewRiver REITPolypipeRathbone Brothers and Vesuvius.

On the upside, Unilever gained as it reported stronger-than-expected growth for the first quarter of the year, driven by emerging markets and with an encouraging balance between increases in volume and price.

Equipment rental firm Ashtead rallied following well-received results from US peer United Rentals, whose first-quarter earnings per share came in around 10% ahead of consensus overnight.

Moneysupermarket racked up strong gains as it posted a 19% jump in first-quarter revenue thanks to a solid performance from its home services business, which saw revenues surge 70%.

Industrial software maker Aveva rose as it reported low double-digit revenue growth for the full year as the final quarter continued the positive performance seen in the first nine months of the year.

Polymetal ticked higher as it said first quarter gold equivalent production grew 27% year-on-year to 374,000 ounces as the Kyzyl operation exceeded design throughput and recovery and enjoyed positive grade reconciliation.

PZ Cussons edged up as it issued a more reassuring update following its profit warnings in December and January. The Imperial Leather and Carex soap maker said its expectations for full year profit had not worsened since January’s interim results.

Things were pretty quiet on the broker note front, with Countryside Properties upgraded to ‘neutral’ at JPMorgan.

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