London close: Late rally not enough as stocks finish lower

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LONDON (ShareCast) - - Uni of Michigan confidence index rise beats forecasts
- Chinese data offset by Greek concerns
- Footsie (FTSE: ^FTSE - news) finishes lower, but well off intraday lows

After steep falls for most of the session, UK stocks picked up in afternoon trade to finish only slightly lower by the close after a reading of US consumer sentiment smashed expectations.

The FTSE 100 finished at 5,770 this evening, well off its intraday lows of 5,717.

The University of Michigan consumer confidence index increased from 82.6 to 84.9 points in November (Xetra: A0Z24E - news) , marking the highest level since July of 2007 when the S&P 500 (SNP: ^GSPC - news) hit its all-time high. Analysts were looking for a slight rise to just 83 points.

Nevertheless, it was a "rocky day" for European financial markets, as market strategist Ishaq Siddiqi from ETX Capital explained: "Kicking off positively on encouraging China economic data points only to see pessimism take over once again as EU lawmakers playing a game of brinkmanship with Greece's financial future. This unnerved markets considerably as the likelihood that we will see a signoff for the next bailout tranche at Monday's Eurogroup meeting seem to be waning."

Markets thus seemed to shrug off some decent economic data from China this morning, where industrial production and retail figures came in better than forecast. Meanwhile, consumer price index (CPI (Berlin: CEJ.BE - news) ) inflation was lower than expected in October, which "leaves the door wide open for further stimulus", according to market analyst Craig Erlam from Alpari.

Also acting as a backdrop, investors were a bit more hopeful ahead of a speech by US President Barack Obama, tonight, on resolving the country´s fiscal problems.

Worries about the impending US 'fiscal cliff' and Greece's bailout have taken their toll on stock markets this week.

As regards the latter, Greek policy-makers voted in favour of the country's harsh austerity measures on Wednesday night, but sentiment was shaken after reports suggested yesterday that the decision on whether to release the next tranche of the country's bailout won't come next week, as had been expected.

An EU official has said that ministers will not decide on the next €31.5bn of aid until late November as they wait for a final report from the Troika on how Greece is complying with the terms of its bailout. However, late on Friday Bloomberg cited European civil servants as having indicated that Greece will be given help to tide it over until the above report is ready.

In the UK, the Bank of England today announced plans to transfer to the Exchequer excess cash held in its quantitative easing (QE) facility in order to pay down debt. The Bank of England will transfer interest payments it has received as part of its asset purchases programme since 2009 to the Treasury.

FTSE 100 (FTSE Index: EO100.FGI - news) : Admiral (LSE: ADM.L - news) accelerates after upgrade

Car insurance giant Admiral was the highest riser of the day after Bank of America (NYSE: IKJ - news) hiked its rating on the stock by two notches from 'underperform' to 'buy'.

Analyst William Hardcastle said: "We are shifting our focus away from the PE growth multiple (close to historical low at 10.7 times) to the 2013 estimated dividend yield of 9.1%. This is now the highest in the sector (and FTSE 100) following 18 percentage point relative underperformance since 2011 results, and can't be ignored in our view. We now see Admiral as an income rather than growth stock."

Tate & Lyle (Dusseldorf: 408414.DU - news) shares were recovering after reporting a decline in first-half profits on Thursday. Jefferies and UBS (NYSEArca: DJCI - news) raised their target prices on the stock today.

IAG was flying higher after revealing details of a "transformation plan" to get its loss-making Spanish airline Iberia (Madrid: IBLA.MC - news) back on track, which includes laying off 4,500 employees. To accompany its third-quarter results, which showed a sharp decline in its bottom line, the company said that a restructuring is needed to "save" Iberia and return it to profitability.

Engine and power systems giant Rolls-Royce edged higher after maintaining its outlook for the full year despite lowering its assumptions for underlying growth in the Marine division.

Drinks behemoth Diageo (Xetra: 851247 - news) gained after saying that it is to spend £1.285bn taking a majority stake (53.4%) in Indian spirits firm USL.

The banks were also out of favour today on concerns over the Eurozone; Barclays (LSE: BARC.L - news) , RBS (LSE: RBS.L - news) and Lloyds were among the worst performers. Meanwhile, HSBC (LSE: HSBA.L - news) was being weighed down by reports that it is under investigation over the alleged loss of data and that criminals have used accounts at its operation in the tax haven of Jersey to evade tax and launder money.

FTSE 250 (FTSE: ^FTMC - news) : Talvivaara dives on leakage issues

Nickel miner Talvivaara dropped on reports about leaks at its gypsum pond in Finland, later confirmed by the company. The group issued a statement this afternoon saying that the leak, first reported on Monday, was completely stemmed this morning but a "further small leakage has occurred, and work to stem it continues".

"Talvivaara re-iterates its opinion that the re-start of the plant is an important step in the overall environmental risk management of the mine," the company said.

Inter-dealer broker Tullett Prebon (Berlin: N5C.BE - news) tanked after reporting a big drop in revenue in the four months to October on subdued market activity.

Waste management (Berlin: UWS.BE - news) firm Shanks made a good recovery after it revealed on Thursday that half-year profit fell 29% as markets in the UK and Netherlands are hit by recession and record lows on construction output.

Shares in recruitment firm Michael Page International were also on the up today after UBS upgraded its rating on the stock from 'neutral' to 'buy', saying that there is a more favourable risk/reward balance. With MPI still trading close to the bottom of its two-year share price range, UBS says that the risk/reward balance is now "skewed to the upside".


FTSE 100 - Risers
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,054.00p +3.43%
Croda International (CRDA) 2,271.00p +2.76%
Tate & Lyle (TATE) 747.00p +2.33%
Smith & Nephew (Xetra: 502816 - news) (SN.) 656.50p +2.18%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 877.00p +1.86%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI (Berlin: CDD.BE - news) ) (IAG) 170.60p +1.55%
BG Group (LSE: BG.L - news) (BG.) 1,057.00p +1.25%
Fresnillo (Berlin: FNL.BE - news) (FRES) 1,929.00p +0.99%
CRH (CRH (Xetra: 558474.DE - news) ) 1,140.00p +0.89%
Tesco (Dusseldorf: 408910.DU - news) (TSCO) 324.80p +0.81%

FTSE 100 - Fallers
Barclays (BARC) 230.15p -2.73%
Evraz (EVR) 236.40p -2.48%
G4S (Copenhagen: G4S.CO - news) (GFS) 253.40p -2.24%
National Grid (LSE: NG.L - news) (NG.) 689.00p -1.57%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 270.10p -1.57%
Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. (ENRC) 290.00p -1.56%
Aviva (EUREX: AVF.EX - news) (AV.) 325.40p -1.48%
Tullow Oil (LSE: TLW.L - news) (TLW) 1,382.00p -1.36%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 650.50p -1.29%
Pennon Group (Other OTC: PEGRF.PK - news) (PNN) 669.50p -1.18%

FTSE 250 - Risers
Shanks Group (Other OTC: SHMCF.PK - news) (SKS) 87.00p +4.82%
Perform Group (PER) 420.20p +3.75%
Computacenter (LSE: CCC.L - news) (CCC) 344.80p +2.93%
AZ Electronic Materials SA (DI) (AZEM) 362.10p +2.46%
Michael Page International (MPI) 366.50p +2.32%
ITE Group (LSE: ITE.L - news) (ITE (HKSE: 8092.HK - news) ) 187.50p +2.18%
Dunelm Group (Berlin: DFQ.BE - news) (DNLM) 675.00p +1.96%
International Personal Finance (IPF) 364.00p +1.79%
Grainger (LSE: GRI.L - news) (GRI) 115.30p +1.59%
Stobart Group Ltd. (STOB) 108.80p +1.49%

FTSE 250 - Fallers
Talvivaara Mining Company (TALV) 103.50p -14.88%
Tullett Prebon (TLPR) 240.00p -8.40%
Man Group (LSE: EMG.L - news) (EMG) 81.00p -6.03%
New World Resources A Shares (NWR) 253.00p -4.56%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 71.25p -4.30%
Atkins (WS) (ATK) 652.00p -3.76%
Bank of Georgia Holdings (BGEO) 1,085.00p -3.56%
Anite (Berlin: A1SN.BE - news) (AIE (SNP: ^AIEY - news) ) 136.80p -3.18%
Brewin Dolphin Holdings (BRW) 175.30p -2.93%
Jupiter Fund Management (JUP) 269.30p -2.92%

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