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Subdued day for European stocks as FTSE 250 hits another record

FTSE 250 hits another record high: A view of the Shard and City of London at night

It’s been a relatively subdued day for European stocks, although the FTSE 250 has once again set a record high, crossing the 24,000 level for the first time, while the FTSE 100 has also outperformed.

Europe

The DAX is underperforming after the August IFO business survey showed that optimism in the German economy slipped back more than expected. Separately, German data showing that exports to China fell for the first time in over a year, in an indication that one of its key markets for growth is slowing sharply.

On the FTSE 100, financials have edged higher in line with the rise in yields seen this afternoon, with Standard Chartered, HSBC and Lloyds seeing some afternoon demand. Industrials have also performed well with Weir Group near the top of the index after Credit Suisse said that the recent declines in the share price had created an attractive entry point for investors. Unfortunately, Credit Suisse’s intervention could well be too late to prevent the company falling through the FTSE 100 trapdoor when the index is recalibrated next month.

Melrose Industries is also higher ahead of half-year results next week, with recent pessimism likely to be being tempered by hopes of an improvement in margins. Today’s other outperformers include Cineworld, which appears to have been boosted by the sharp move higher in its US counterpart AMC Entertainment, which in turn got a lift from the weekend returns from Disney’s new release Free Guy, which saw $28.5m worth of sales.

Bingo hall owner Rank Group is higher after HMRC said it would appeal a decision to refund the business £80m in VAT receipts. This is welcome news for the business, only days after the company reported hefty losses of £72m last week due to the pandemic lockdowns.

Building materials group Grafton is also up after reporting H1 results well ahead of expectations. Revenues rose 46.1% to over £1bn, pushing profits before tax up by 385% to a record £302.5m. the big jump appears to have been driven by people spending more money on home improvements due to more time spent at home, while costs are also rising due to supply chain constraints. 

The Marks and Spencer share price has continued to sparkle today with the shares reaching new 17-month highs, with the shares up over 20% from last week's lows after the recent positive trading update.

US

There seems to be no stopping US markets, although after a record close for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq yesterday, we’ve seen a more subdued open this morning, after US durable goods for July came in better than expected.

In the absence of any other drivers, meme stocks saw some decent gains yesterday with the likes of GameStop and AMC Entertainment shares seeing big gains for no other reason than they appeared to be trending on the Reddit message boards. The gains in AMC may also have had something to do with the success of the new Disney film, Free Guy, which generated over $20m in US and Canadian cinemas on its opening weekend.

On the numbers front Dick's Sporting Goods is higher after reporting record Q2 sales of $3.27bn as well as record profits. The company also announced a special dividend of $5.50 a share, as well as raising its full year profits guidance to $11 to $11.45 a share.

Nordstrom shares on the other hand have slid back sharply after reporting its own set of results, which while beating expectations, prompted an avalanche of negativity, due to lagging their sector peers, with JPMorgan downgrading the stock.

FX

It’s been an underwhelming day for the US dollar today, with the greenback edging off its lows, as US 10-year yields pushed up to their highest levels in over a week. There doesn’t appear to have been a singular driver, although Fed chair Jay Powell’s speech this week maybe provoking a little bit of a move. It’s still difficult to envisage that anything he says will change the markets outlook significantly on the timing of a taper. The picture on that is more likely to become clearer in the aftermath of next weeks payrolls report.    

Commodities

Crude oil prices are in a holding pattern with Brent prices consolidating around the $71 a barrel, after a strong two-day rally, which has seen it pull off four-month lows. 

Gold prices, having failed to crack above the 200-day MA yesterday have slipped back below the $1,800 level, with the strength of the US dollar acting as a drag.


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