LONDON MARKET MIDDAY: Dovish ECB Draghi Gives Stocks Helping Hand

(Alliance News) - Seemingly not wanting to be left out in a week that features policy meetings of ...

Alliance News 18 June, 2019 | 11:51AM
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(Alliance News) - Seemingly not wanting to be left out in a week that features policy meetings of the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England, the head of the European Central Bank was the centre of attention on Tuesday following dovish comments about rate cuts.

Mario Draghi's remarks helped to turn a muted morning into a session of strong gains for European stocks, with Wall Street also pointed towards an upbeat start.

In London, the FTSE 100 was up 51.90 points, or 0.7%, at 7,409.21 Tuesday midday, after being flat most of the morning. The FTSE 250 was up 24.11 points, or 0.1%, at 19,181.72, while the AIM All-Share was down 0.1% at 936.86.

The Cboe UK 100 index was up 0.5% at 12,552.17. The Cboe UK 250 was up 0.1% at 17,195.99 with the Cboe UK Small Companies up 0.1% at 11,663.72.

"Mario Draghi has been back on the airwaves this morning doing what he does best," said Craig Erlam at Oanda.

Erlam continued: "The ECB president - for a few more months at least - has become known for his ability to talk down the euro even during periods of tightening and this morning, he's delivered in true Draghi fashion once again."

ECB President Draghi said the central bank still has room to cut interest rates and measures to cushion the side effects from low interest rates.

Speaking at the ECB Forum on Central Banking in Sintra, Portugal, Draghi said: "Further cuts in policy interest rates and mitigating measures to contain any side effects remain part of our tools."

"And the [asset purchase programme] still has considerable headroom."

Risks to the euro area economic outlook remained tilted to the downside and indicators for the coming quarters suggest lingering softness, Draghi said.

Erlam commented: "His claims that the asset purchase program still has considerable room and interest rates could fall further did not fall on deaf ears, with the euro shedding a third of one percent against the dollar (around 50 pips) and stock markets which had opened relatively flat moving healthily into the green."

"All in a morning's work for the man so adept at this kind of thing."

The euro was quoted at USD1.1185, down from USD1.1233 late Monday following Draghi's comments.

In equities meanwhile, the CAC 40 in Paris and DAX 30 in Frankfurt were up 1.1% and 0.7% respectively in afternoon trade.

The pound was also slightly lower on Tuesday, quoted at USD1.2526 at midday versus USD1.2559 at the close on Tuesday, as Conservative MPs prepare to take part in a second round of voting to whittle down the list of candidates standing to be new party leader and UK prime minister.

Tory MPs will vote in the second bout of the contest to select Britain's next prime minister on Tuesday ahead of a live TV debate that will feature front-runner and former foreign secretary Boris Johnson.

Candidates need to gain at least 33 votes from MPs to remain in the race to reach the final run-off, which will see some 160,000 Tory members select the next prime minister.

If all candidates pass the 33-vote threshold, the one with the lowest total will be eliminated and by the end of the week, four of the six current riders will be forced out, leaving the final two to go head-to-head for votes from the Tory grassroots.

Those Conservative Party members have some strong views. Most would be prepared to sacrifice the union, destroy their party, or suffer economic damage to get the UK out of the EU, a poll has suggested.

The YouGov survey found that 63% of members would be prepared to see Brexit take place even if it meant Scotland leaving the UK. Some 61% would rather Brexit took place even if it caused "significant damage" to the economy, 59% would prioritise leaving the EU even if it meant Northern Ireland breaking away from the rest of the UK, and 54% would accept the Tory party "being destroyed" in order to secure Brexit.

Elsewhere in the economic events calendar on Tuesday, US housing starts are at 1330 BST and the Redbook index at 1500 BST, while ECB President Draghi speaks again at 1500 BST. Additionally, the US Federal Reserve's two-day policy meeting kicks off on Tuesday, with a decision due on Wednesday.

On Wall Street, stocks are pointed to a positive start with the Dow Jones seen up 0.2%, the S&P 500 called 0.3% higher and the Nasdaq set to gain 0.6%.

In London, Ashtead was the top gainer in the FTSE 100 after a strong set of annual results and the unveiling of a GBP500 million share buyback.

For the year to April 30, Ashtead recorded pretax profit of GBP1.06 billion, up 23% from GBP862.1 million the year before, as revenue increased 19% to GBP4.50 billion.

Underlying pretax profit was up 17% to GBP1.11 billion, in line with consensus, while rental revenue was up 18% to GBP4.14 billion.

Ashtead, which rents out construction and industrial equipment, said its core Sunbelt US division recorded revenue of GBP3.82 billion for the 2019 financial year versus GBP3.10 billion the year before.

Drugmaker AstraZeneca rose 1.6% after getting European approval for Lynparza in ovarian cancer.

The European Commission approved the drug for adults patients with stage three and four ovarian cancer who have a BRCA mutation. BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes help suppress the growth of tumours, and mutations in these genes is associated with an increased risk of cancer.

Lynparza is part of a strategic oncology collaboration between Astra and US pharma company Merck & Co, and the two companies are pursuing further ovarian cancer trials, including an ongoing trial of Lynparza in combination with bevacizumab. This is the third indication for Lynparza in the EU.

Providing a slight drag towards the opposite end of the index was Russian steelmaker Evraz, down 2.3% after Citigroup cut the stock to Sell from Neutral.

In the FTSE 250, Telecom Plus advanced 3.4% after the utility firm delivered an in-line set of annual results.

For the year ended March 31, revenue rose 1.5% to GBP804.4 million from GBP792.9 million the year before, and pretax profit increased 4.9% to GBP43.0 million from GBP41.0 million.

The company said that in the absence of "unforeseen circumstances" it expect adjusted pretax profit for financial 2020 to be between GBP60 million and GBP65 million. This compares to GBP56.3 million achieved in the recently-ended financial year.

Gold miner Acacia Mining rose 2.4% after Berenberg raised the stock to Hold from Sell.

By Lucy Heming; lucyheming@alliancenews.com

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Securities Mentioned in Article
Security Name Price Change (%) Morningstar Rating
Telecom Plus PLC 1,346.52 GBX 0.34 -
Ashtead Group PLC 2,229.00 GBX -1.63 -
EVRAZ PLC 638.68 GBX -1.29 -
AstraZeneca PLC 6,404.00 GBX -0.59
Acacia Mining PLC 181.40 GBX -0.06 -
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