Admiraloutperformed the rebounding FTSE 100 after Deutsche Bank judged that the insurer will be one of the sector’s big winners from the Government proposal to backtrack on its much derided changes to the Ogden discount rate, which punctured the tyres of the sector earlier this year.
Admiral and Direct Line were the clear beneficiaries from the plans to reverse changes to the personal injury discount rate, which slashed earnings for UK insurers, Deutsche argued.
The motor insurance sector has undergone yet another dramatic shift in its dynamic after the Government said earlier this month that it plans to change the Ogden rate from -0.75p to between 0pc and 1pc and car insurance prices are now likely to remain flat, it told clients
The more cautious booked position taken by Admiral was a sensible choice and now that the Ogden rate issue is settling the company can improve profitability from 2018 onwards, its analyst Wajahat Rizvi argued.
Admiral, which was also upgraded to “hold” by the broker, climbed 39p to £18.24 while Direct Line nudged up 2.5p to 374p, their shares also benefitting from speculation that rival esure’s biggest shareholder is on the hunt for a buyer. Chatter that a merger could provide Esure founder Sir Peter Wood his ticket out of the FTSE 250 firm sent the insurer to the top of the mid-cap index, its shares gaining 15.9p to 278.5p.
Elsewhere, huge blue-chip engineers dominated the top spots on the blue-chip index with BAE Systems advancing 23.5p to 619.5p to the top of the index after securing a new order for its Typhoon jets from Qatar and GKN climbing 8.8p to 347.6p on an analyst note from Exane BNP Paribas saying that conditions are now ripe for the long-awaited separation of its automobile and aerospace divisons.
The pound’s decelerating momentum on the currency markets gave the FTSE 100 a respite, the blue-chip index rebounding from its four-month low to rise 37.81 points to 7,253.28. The index was given a late boost by Bank of England Governor Mark Carney’s speech at the IMF in Washington pulling down the pound by warning of a limited and gradual pace to interest rates rises.
Finally on the junior market, Velocys jumped 2.6p to 34.5p after announcing a partnership with British Airways to prepare a business case to build a plant to convert household waste into jet fuel, using the AIM-listed firm’s gas-to-liquids technology.
Numis analyst James Hubbard noted that recent UK jet fuel credit changes have opened the door to the innovation, adding that the renewable jet fuel sector had a “promising future”. The Government confirmed last week that jet fuel will now be eligible for credits under the changes and a final investment decision on the project is due in 2019.
Markets wrap: Pound's retreat on Carney speech helps FTSE 100 rebound
The FTSE 100 has rebounded from a four-month low after the pound's momentum on the currency markets was brought to a halt by a more cautious speech from Bank of England governor Mark Carney warning of a gradual and limited pace to interest rate rises.
Dropping off from its highest post-EU referendum level against the dollar, the pound retreated 0.7pc to back below $1.35 as Mr Carney struck a more cautious tone on the UK's outlook and warned yet again on the effects of Brexit.
Any cynics saying that Mr Carney was using hawkish rhetoric to push up the pound without the need to use the blunter tools at his disposal will be quietened by the governor's negative effect on the currency and the FTSE 100 strengthened to record a 0.5pc following the speech.
Josh Mahony said this on the action on stock markets:
"European markets are starting the week in optimistic fashion, as market sentiment continues to benefit from the now regular setting of record highs in US markets coupled with a shift away from threatening and escalating rhetoric over North Korea.
"US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s desire to find a “peaceful solution” to the ongoing dispute with Kim Jong-Un has provided markets with a significant degree of confidence. Both the Dow and S&P500 have hit fresh highs as the drop in the dollar continues to benefit exporting firms."
Carney warns that interest rates will rise at a gradual and limited pace
BBG on Carney: comments that hikes will be limited and gradual -- in other words, not the start of a rapid tightening cycle $GBP— Yogi Chan (@Yogi_Chan) September 18, 2017
Interest rates will "rise a limited extent at what can be expected to be a gradual pace, settling at levels significantly below those seen pre-crisis", Mark Carney has said in his appearance at the IMF this afternoon.
It's looking like those concerns that Mr Carney was using hawkish rhetoric to bluff the markets to lift the pound were unfounded. The governor's rhetoric today has done the currency no favours.
The speech is littered with anti-Brexit rhetoric. Here's a few lines from the speech on the issue:
"The first is the obvious disinflationary impact of Brexit given that the EU takes 44% of UK exports. Whatever is negotiated, in terms of both the final arrangements and the transition to them, the most important influence on demand in the short run will be the degree of access to the single market since the UK runs a 1.5% trade surplus in services and a 5% trade deficit in goods."
Pound dips despite Carney reiterating tightening plans
Mark Carney delivering Camdessus Lecture at IMF. In audience, Stan Fischer, Ann Kruger, John Lipsky et al. pic.twitter.com/4giV2GjErR— Alessandro Leipold (@ALeipold) September 18, 2017
What about Carney's comments are particularly bearish? Is his vow of 'gradual' surprising? His well-established concerns around Brexit?— John Kicklighter (@JohnKicklighter) September 18, 2017
The text from Mark Carney's speeech at the IMF has just been released and the currency markets have given it a thumbs down.
Mr Carney said that monetary policy has to move in order to stand still in the current environment and added that the withdrawal of monetary stimulus is likely to be appropriate over the coming months, using almost identical phrasing to what the Bank of England used last Thursday.
He reiterated that there are "considerable risks" to the UK outlook and that caution has sent the pound sliding 0.4pc against the dollar back towards $1.35.
Here's the relevant part of the text:
"There remain considerable risks to the UK outlook, which include the response of households, businesses and financial markets to developments related to the process of EU withdrawal. The MPC will respond to these developments as they occur insofar as they affect the behaviour of households and businesses, and the outlook for inflation."
He also emphasises that the UK growth outlook is sluggish compared to our G7 peers.
"The balance of these effects has lead overall UK growth to slow in the first half of 2017, even as growth in the rest of the G7 was picking up, and UK growth looks set to remain weaker than the G7 average until mid- 2018.
"The UK has experienced underperformance only twice in the past three decades: once in the depths of the financial crisis and once following the collapse of the Lawson Boom of the late 1980s."
US indices hitting highs pulls up European stocks; pound mixed ahead of Carney speech
European stocks have been supported this afternoon by the bright start across the Atlantic, according to Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.
He said on this afternoon's action:
"A record-breaking open from the Dow Jones kept the European indices feeling positive this Monday afternoon.
"The Dow only needed to rise 0.3% after the bell to hit a new 22300-plus high; the S&P 500 followed suit, climbing above 2500 for the first time in its history. The recent surge from the US indices has lined up with the dollar’s September decline against the pound, where it has shed nearly 5% in the last 18 days.
"Over in Europe the US open allowed the FTSE to widen its gains once again. The UK index is now up half a percent, putting some distance between it and its sub-7200 low last Friday."
Just a reminder that we'll be bringing you the latest updates from Mark Carney's IMF speech at 4pm. Ahead of the appearance, the pound is putting in a patchy performance, nudging down against both the dollar and euro but moving higher against the currency markets' laggard today, the Japanese yen.
Bell Pottinger scandal widens as Rentokil director who introduced the PR firm to the Guptas steps down
The scandal surrounding public relations firm Bell Pottinger has deepened as the man who introduced the company to the billionaire Gupta family, Chris Geoghegan, has stepped down from his role at Rentokil.
Mr Geoghegan, BAE Systems' former chief operating officer, reportedly earned a six-figure sum for brokering the controversial deal between Bell Pottinger and the Guptas, which ultimately led to the firm’s administration last week.
Cleaning and hygiene firm Rentokil has announced that Mr Geoghegan will be stepping down with immediate effect.
As a result, he also steps down as chairman of the firm’s remuneration committee and senior independent director. He had been on the board for just over a year, having been joint chief operating officer at BAE Systems from 2002 to 2007.
Dow Jones on course for another record close
US stocks have nudged up early on and the Dow Jones is on course for another record close with the Federal Reserve's latest policy decision now in the sights of investors.
ING's chief international economist James Knightley believes that that the markets are underestimating the chance of a fasted paced hiking cycle and that Wednesday's meeting may not be the non-event some believe it will be.
He added that investors should give more credence to the Fed's forecasts on interest rates:
"With just one hike priced in by the end of 2018, the market's view on interest rates is still worlds apart from the Fed's June projections, which pencilled in 100bp of rate hikes over the next 18 months.
"Some market scepticism is understandable. The Fed has signalled higher interest rates on numerous occasions over the past couple of years, only to then subsequently not follow through with them. But also with several measures of inflation well below 2%, there is a sense that there is little need for tighter policy.
"This latter point, in particular, may see some officials becoming less aggressive on their expectations for the path of interest rates. As such, we would not be surprised to see the dot diagram move closer to our forecast of three rate hikes rather than the four previously indicated."
Given the rollercoaster the ECB and Bank of England has given the markets in the last few weeks, it would be naive to rule out any other shocks from the central banking top tier one would think.
Britain braces for higher energy prices this winter
Energy bills in the UK could be set to rise this winter after the cost of power jumped well above last year's prices.
The wholesale cost of winter electricity in the UK market is on average 16pc, or around £7 per megawatt-hour, higher than it was this time last year.
The price rises could spell trouble for British bill payers who faced a flurry of tariff hikes over the spring following last winter’s volatile energy trading.
Last year market prices surged higher due to safety concerns across almost a fifth of EDF’s 58-strong French nuclear reactor fleet.
This year, energy prices are climbing due to ongoing concerns around France’s nuclear plants as well as Germany’s reliance on power from coal, which is trading 50pc higher than last year.
Mark Carney speech preview
Interest rate forecast revisions have been flooding in since the Bank of England surprised the markets last Thursday by taking a hawkish turn but some have raised doubts that the latest rhetoric coming out of the central bank is little more than monetary policy dark arts.
The theory goes that the MPC's hawkish rhetoric is designed to lift the pound, which will in turn bring down inflation without having to resort to the blunter tools at the central bank's disposal.
Can Mark Carney reassure any doubters this afternoon in his speech at the IMF?
The markets have been here twice before with Mr Carney and the 'Maradona theory', the idea proposed by former governor Mervyn King that the markets can be manipulated by central bankers in the same way that Maradona could beat five defender by walking in a straight line through shoulder shifts and bluffs, could be wearing a little thin if rates aren't raised before the end of the year.
Investec's Philip Shaw, who like HSBC this morning and many others, has revised his forecasts since the latest twist believes the BoE is serious this time, however.
"The MPC’s latest prognosis has not come out of the blue. Indeed its concerns over tight labour markets and the prospects for inflationary pay increases have been evident since the spring. Accordingly unless the UK is hit by a negative demand shock over the next six weeks, we view the prospect of a 25bp increase in the Bank rate to 0.50% in November as our new baseline case.
Study engineering at university if you want to become a billionaire, report suggests
Students who study engineering or business at university are more likely than their peers to become billionaires, a new study suggests.
Those who have already entered the job market and are either in a sales career or stock trader role are also among the most likely to become part of the world's richest people club.
The findings are based on a study by the recruitment agency Aaron Wallis, which looked into the richest 100 people in the world to see if there was any correlation between their first careers and how wealthy they became.
It found that the most common first job among the top billionaires – who started in an organisation that wasn't their own, as opposed to entrepreneurs who started their own company or those employed in a family business – was that of a salesperson.
Lunchtime update: Pound comes off highs ahead of Carney speech
The FTSE 100 has snapped its losing streak and rebounded back into positive territory this morning as the pound's rally on currency markets cools.
Ahead of Bank of England governor Mark Carney's speech at the IMF this afternoon, sterling has dipped slightly, coming off the highs it hit at the end of last week as hopes of an interest rate hike before the end of the year were reignited by the central bank.
A dearth of economics and corporate news means London is devoid of any big stock movements this morning.
Engineer GKN has jumped 3.2pc to the top of the FTSE 100 on a bullish broker note while defence specialist BAE Systems securing the sale of 24 Typhoon jets to Qatar has lifted it 2.9pc.
At the other end, tobacco stocks are reacting negatively to the FDA changes to its e-cigarette requirements, which broke as trading was closing in Europe on Friday, while gold producers Fresnillo and Randgold Resources trail the blue-chip index as the precious metal's price continues to retreat.
It could be the calm before the storm, however. Attention on the markets is beginning to shift to the US Federal Reserve's key policy decision on Wednesday with investors itching for clues over the US's own interest rate hiking plans.
Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell gave this preview of the US session:
"Looking to this afternoon, and while there’s no data on the cards it still could be a memorable US session. Even something as meagre as a 0.2% is enough for the Dow Jones to hit a fresh high, with the index on track to open above 22300 for the first time in its history.
"Given it wasn’t too long ago that it was fretting about North Korea, as well as Donald Trump’s (in)ability to deliver on his tax and infrastructure promises – issues that are still very much on the table – it’s remarkable that the Dow has risen so aggressively in the past week or so."
Interserve hires finance director days after devastating profit warning
Support services group Interserve has appointed a new finance director just days after it issued a crippling profit warning.
Mark Whiteling will join the company at the beginning of next month, having recently held a number of non-executive roles at firms including Hogg Robinson and Connect Group.
Shares in Interserve rallied during Monday morning’s trading on the back of the news, climbing as much as 18.71pc to 96.75p.
Mr Whiteling had previously held senior roles at technology firm Premier Farnell. He was also finance director of marketing business Communisis and group finance director of logistics company Tibbett and Britten.
Yen falls as Japanese PM considers calling a snap election
Another little interesting side-note on the forex markets is the Japanese yen, which has plunged into the red against all the leading currencies ahead of the Bank of Japan's own decision on monetary policy on Thursday.
The currency is under pressure after weekend reports that the country's prime minister Shinzo Abe is considering to do a "Theresa May" and call a snap election to take advantage of a weakened opposition.
If Mrs May did give the Japanese PM any sage advice on snap elections during her recent state visit, he's obviously ignored it.
Sterling comes off highs; attention begins to shift towards Fed meeting
Sterling has slipped slightly on the currency markets this morning as it comes off the highs it hit on Friday following dovish Bank of England policymaker Gertjan Vlieghe's speech backing the Monetary Policy Committee's plan to hike interest rates to curb inflation if current economic trends continue.
The pound could be in for another bumpy ride this week against the dollar with Mark Carney due to speak later today and the US Federal Reserve's meeting on Wednesday to dictate the dollar's performance on the currency markets later in the week.
The Fed is expected to announce that it will begin to unwind its huge $4.5tn balance sheet but investors will be equally as interested in the central bank's thoughts on sluggish inflation, which is weighing on the chance of an interest rate hike across the Atlantic before the end of the year.
Petra Diamonds misses targets as Tanzanian worries worsen
Shares in Petra Diamonds have slumped 7pc after the FTSE 250 miner reported a disappointing set of results and warned that legal challenges in Tanzania could mean it breaches its debt covenants once again.
The stock slid to 77.50p in early trade after Petra warned that failure to resolve a dispute with the Tanzanian government over diamond exports may result in it breaching two of its covenant measures.
The company said it would “monitor the situation very closely and take decisive action if required”.
Petra had already warned in June that it was in talks with its lenders after suffering a six-month delay at one of its major projects, resulting in it missing production guidance for the year.
HSBC reverses position on sterling; revises 2017 forecast from $1.20 to $1.35 against the dollar
In terms of HSBC and currency forecasts it is a case of "we were wrong again" https://t.co/6Vs7NIETSh— Shaun Richards (@notayesmansecon) September 18, 2017
"We were very wrong."
That's how HSBC's forex team started this morning's note on sterling to clients, its tail between the legs as the currency smashed the bank's forecast.
Its strategist David Bloom said that the Bank of England's "unexpected hunger" to join the ECB and Federal Reserve in beginning to tighten monetary policy had lifted sterling above its estimates, adding that the pound has "happily ignored the political intrigue of Brexit".
After forecasting the currency to plunge to $1.20 against the dollar by the end of the year, it now believes that it will remain around its current level of $1.35.
The bank does, however, believe that the pound is "likely to weaken in 2018 as the market questions the merit of rate hikes and politics belatedly gets a grip on it".
Eurozone inflation takes small step in the right direction
Eurozone CPI of +1.5% y/y hardly the hawkish report the ECB needs to "taper", but up small sequentially— Keith McCullough (@KeithMcCullough) September 18, 2017
Eurozone inflation picked up to 1.5pc in August, Eurostat has confirmed this morning, reversing the downward trend concerning officials at the European Central Bank.
The ECB has been reluctant to signal a shift in monetary policy until inflation starts to rise back towards its 2pc target. After three months of decline or stagnation, the headline figure has finally started to rise again, jumping 0.2 percentage points in the latest estimate.
Rising prices for transport fuel and accommodation services lifted the headline figure most while Ireland and Greece weighed heaviest on figures in the currency bloc.
The headline rate could begin to fall again in the coming quarters, however, according to Pantheon Macro eurozone economist Claus Vistesen.
"The inflation data in the Eurozone will be driven by two separate stories in the next three-to-six months. The headline likely will fall significantly as base effects push energy inflation lower. The ECB published an estimate earlier today to suggest that headline inflation could fall to 0.9% in the first quarter of 2018. That sounds a little too drastic to us, but we agree with the direction.
"If this forecast is right—and it will be unless oil prices soar—it will create an odd backdrop for the expectations of tighter monetary policy. Core inflation, however, likely will rise slightly providing cover for the ECB to reduce the pace of QE. In particular, we think non-energy goods inflation will increase in Q4 as a lagged response to higher PPI inflation. By contrast, risks are then tilted to the downside in Q1. Services inflation also should edge higher, albeit less so. We look for core inflation in France and Italy to deliver the main upside surprises."
Mark Carney speech could help kick-start the pound's momentum once again
Sterling's momentum on the forex markets has slowed to a stop this morning but a speech from Bank of England governor Mark Carney this afternoon could kick-start the currency's recent rally once again.
The pound was lifted to its highest post-EU referendum level against the dollar on Friday after a speech from Gertjan Vlieghe, who is considered the most dovish member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee, supported raising interest rates if current economic trends continue.
The Bank of England's statement on Thursday alongside its decision to hold rates at 0.25pc said that a majority of the central bank's policymakers backed hiking rates to curb inflation in the coming months and the backing of an arch dove like Mr Vlieghe was seen as an important step towards the MPC voting for a rise.
This morning's gains on the FTSE 100 could be short-lived if Mark Carney's speech cements the MPC's position, according to IG chief market analyst Chris Beauchamp.
"While sterling’s weakness is giving it some much-needed respite, the gains could well prove fleeting if Mark Carney delivers further remarks this afternoon that follow up on last week’s hawkish turn.
"Having seen such heavy losses at the end of last week there were bound to be plenty of candidates for dip buying on the index, and with UK stocks still broadly out of favour among institutions this rally could easily have legs, especially with Q4’s seasonality just weeks away. However, it will all depend on Mark Carney today."
House prices continue to be dragged down by London
London houses continued to plunge in value in September, dragging down the national average a further 1.2pc in September, fresh data from Rightmove has revealed today.
Only the North East, Yorkshire and the East Midlands saw an increase in prices while London prices fell by 2.9pc compared to the previous month.
Rightmove said that the number of sales agreed was higher than a year ago, showing that demand remains strong.
House prices reaching their limit after rising for the last six years will be "unavoidable", said Rightmove director Miles Shipside.
However, he did manage to pick out this silver lining in today's figures:
"Interest rates cannot realistically drop any further to help buyer affordability, but the potentially good news for buyers’ finances, which have been under attack for years, is that there is some relief from the wage-rise cavalry.
"Average wage rises are now running at nearly double the annual rate of property price rises, and the longer any meaningful differential is maintained then the greater the improvement in buyer affordability."
Hiscox braces for £110m of Hurricane Harvey claims
Hiscox said the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Harvey on the United States will cost the insurer $150m (£110m) in claims.
The FTSE 250 firm said the estimate was within the modelled range for a disaster of that scale and was based on an insured market loss of $25bn (£18bn).
It came as the company warned that "natural catastrophes" would run up a big bill for the insurance industry this year, but assured that the sector would be able to cope.
Alongside the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, America is also grappling with the impact of Hurricane Irma, which made a devastating sweep through the Caribbean before slamming into Florida.
Ryanair dives after 'messing up' pilot holidays
The fall-out from Ryanair cancelling 40-50 flights every day for the next six weeks after it bungled its pilots' holiday schedule has sent its shares diving 3.5pc this morning.
The company's marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said that the airline had "messed up" their pilots' holiday schedule but added that less than 2pc of its flights will be cancelled.
Rebecca O’Keeffe, head of investment at Interactive Investor said that the error will be "truly damaging" for the company.
"Ryanair is notorious for not caring about what sort of headlines they get, working on the basis that all publicity is good publicity - but not this time. Previously, the carrier was happy to suggest that you get what you pay for and despite negative press lots of flyers embraced the fact that they knew the score and were happy to fly without the frills.
"However, the current situation is truly damaging, with flyers left high and dry with last minute cancellations or apprehensive that they might be affected. Is this a planning issue with Ryanair or is it a shortage of pilots? If the former, then it suggests some truly poor processes. If the latter, then we may see wages rise to fill the gaps. Either way, it’s not good news for Ryanair."
Global stocks nudge up to fresh all-time high
MSCI World Equity Index (USD) hits a record high pic.twitter.com/E3xRXvQ0Ax— Kit Lowe (@kit_lowe) September 18, 2017
The rally on European stock markets following a positive session in Asia has lifted the MSCI World Index to a fresh all-time high as investor sentiment continues to normalise and attention shifts to the US Federal Reserve's latest policy decision on Wednesday.
Let's take a quick look at the big movers in London this morning.
A quiet morning on the corporate front means engineer GKN and insurer Admiral being lifted by broker notes is enough to take them towards the top of the FTSE 100 leaderboard. BAE Systems' rise on a Typhoon jet order from Qatar still leads the index early on, however, while HSBC has clawed back some of the ground it lost last week.
Gold's retreat as risk appetite continues to return to normal has pulled precious metal producers Fresnillo and Randgold Resources to the bottom of the FTSE 100. After jumping to $1,347 per ounce on geopolitical worries two weeks ago the price has retreated back down to $1,315 with the markets giving a muted response to the latest escalation on the Korean Peninsula.
Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell commented on this morning's rebound:
"Having been battered in the wake of last week’s sterling super surge, the FTSE is using a quiet Monday morning to claw back some of its losses. At one point last Friday the UK index hit 7195, its worst price since the end of April. Now it’s trying to push on to 7250, sitting a few points shy of that target after rising around half a percent.
"As for the pound, it has had little reason to really move just yet, instead opening relatively flat against both the dollar and the euro. Not to worry though – that means cable is just below last week’s $1.36-crossing 1 year peak, while against the euro sterling is sitting pretty at a 2 month high."
Agenda: FTSE 100 rebounds as sterling's momentum slows
The FTSE 100 has rebounded into positive territory this morning as sterling's dominance on the currency markets eases, pulling the index off the four-month low it plunged to on Friday as the pound jumped to its highest post-EU referendum level.
BAE Systems is leading the rally early on after Qatar signed a letter of intent to buy 24 Typhoon jets from the defence specialist while engineering firm GKN is following shortly behind after being lifted by a broker note.
Only a handful of stocks have retreated early on with Randgold Resources dropping furthest as gold begins the new week in the red.
Markets start week in 'risk-on' mood. Asia stocks hit decade high, Safe haven assets plunge as CenBank hawkish shift appears to be underway. pic.twitter.com/XpKr43doNn— Holger Zschaepitz (@Schuldensuehner) September 18, 2017
There's little of note on the economics calendar today after last week's action-packed diary. House prices continued to nudge down, retreating a further 1.2pc in August compared to the previous month, according to Rightmove's latest data.
This morning, the pound has held onto the strong gains it made at the end of last week after the Bank of England's MPC gave its strongest hint yet that interest rates will rise this year. Against the dollar, sterling is in flat territory at $1.3575 while against the euro, it has edged up to €1.1374, a two-month high, ahead of final eurozone CPI figures due at 10am.
Interim results: M. P. Evans Group, Secure Income Reit, Concurrent Technologies, Learning Technologies Group, Ergomed, Medica Group
Full-year results: Bluefield Solar Income Fund, Green Reit, Finsbury Food Group, City of London Investment Group, Petra Diamonds
Trading statement: Dairy Crest Group
AGM: Ormonde Mining
Economics: Rightmove HPI m/m (UK), NAHB Housing Market Index (US), Final CPI y/y (EU)