UK markets have drifted marginally lower this morning after investors weighed up news from Ukraine and China, while corporate updates were mixed.
Chinese industrial output data missed expectations overnight, but given the recent move lower a slowdown in China is probably largely priced in already and the session actually saw equities higher on the closing bell. Investors seem to have taken heart from Premier Li’s comments on the more pressing issue of debt, pledging to contain any systematic risk and noting that the 7.5% growth target does have some flexibility, which would make other recent targets more feasible.
As for the Ukraine, we seem to be getting nowhere fast and the increased involvement of the U.S is escalating the issue, while Russia shows no intention to stand down. In fact today’s reports that Russian officials are readying for “Iran style” sanctions from the west shows just how far they are willing to go. The escalation has done little to help the markets and gold continues to benefit from the risk-off sentiment.
Royal Dutch Shell’s shock profit warning earlier this year has prompted a spending cut, with outlays on American Upstream scaled back 20% to help reign in costs. Shale production has in the main been dominated by smaller energy firms, with both BP and Exxon relatively late to the party as well. Shell stock was offered slightly lower on the news.
Today is another one to forget for Morrison’s shareholders, with the stock down 8% after another profit warning saw another wave of investors drop their stock. Underlying pre-tax profit forecasts have been slashed to half of prior analyst expectations and after today’s move the Supermarket has now shed a quarter of its value in the last 6 months. Rumours were rife in February about a private equity buyout backed by the founding family, and if they did indeed have any intentions to bid, a sharp move lower may signal an opportunity.
SIG plc reported full year earnings that beat estimates after seeing an improvement in trading conditions. The results and a 20% hike in dividend has been enough to earn the stock modest gains on the opening bell.
Once the retail investors dream, Gulf Keystone is quickly turning into a nightmare for shareholders, after flopping to a 2 ½ year low after today’s operating update. The first 3rd party valuation of resources from their flagship Shaikan field has been estimated at 12.5 billion barrels, a “conservative” forecast according to the report. In typical Gulf Keystone fashion, investors have got a bit trigger happy, sending the stock down to a near £1 low before recovering to 120 by mid-morning. Investors will hope that their proposed FTSE
listing later this month will iron out some of the wild swings that have defined the stock over the last few years.
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