After yesterday’s rampant close, UK markets have started the day on the back foot after Chinese stocks slumped overnight, with concerns over a cooling property market and lending curbs hampering consumer growth spilling over to the second trading day of the week.
As with any Chinese story the miners lead declines, sending the FTSE
’s basic materials sector over 2% lower and leaving the benchmark lagging behind its European peers. From a technical perspective these levels will have investors looking over their shoulders, having nosedived late last month from the same heights, so if we fail to break around 6850 and hold a sell off could well become self-fulfilling in the short term.
Ashmore group was sent swiftly to the bottom of the class this morning after reporting a slash in profits for the second half of 2013. Pre-tax profits were down by a third on last year, dropping short of estimates that had already been marked lower for the period. The firm has pointed towards increasing volatility in emerging markets leading having to money outflows, with funds under management dropping £2.1bln over the six months in question.
Ladbrokes shareholders also see their stock offered lower on the open, with profits hampered by increased spending on an upgrade to its online offering as it battles to hold its place as the industry shifts away from traditions and onto the web. The firm will hope that the investment pays dividends in the second half of the year, with the world cup likely to attract swarms of part time punters to try their luck, but for now the extra expense has pegged the stock back slightly, dropping over 1%.
Improving construction markets in both the US and Europe has boosted CRH revenues by 2% in the second half of 2013, with the firm upbeat on 2014 forecasts as well. CRH are confident that 2013 “represents a trough in profits”, paving the way for strong numbers this year having already seen encouraging numbers for the start of 2014.
In the same sector Persimmon are enjoying the surge in the UK housing market, with profits doubling in 2013 to £337m. The firm is also upbeat on 2014 forecasts, with a strong order book providing the base for further sales growth, freeing up management to accelerate investor returns and pay a 70p dividend on July 4th.
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