Oils lead FTSE lower ahead of spending review

By David Brett

LONDON (BestGrowthStock) – Weakness in energy stocks dragged Britain’s leading shares lower in early trade on Wednesday, offsetting strength in miners ahead of the British government’s spending review due at 1130 GMT.

By 0810 GMT, the FTSE 100 index was down 11.44 points, or 0.2 percent, at 5,692.45, having closed 0.7 percent lower at 5,703.89 on Tuesday.

Energy stocks were the biggest drag on the index after crude oil fell over 4 percent in the previous session following China’s surprise announcement of its first interest rate rise since 2007, a move designed to rein in a booming economy.

Oil majors BG Group and BP shed 2.4 and 1.6 percent respectively.

Miners, however, found some support after sustaining heavy losses on Tuesday on the back of China’s rate rise.

“We are still dealing with the fallout from the Chinese rate hike, but investors might be relieved that there has been no major follow through from the big falls on Wall Street overnight,” said Jeremy Batstone-Carr, head of research at Charles Stanley, referring to the 1.5 percent drop on the Dow Jones and 1.6 percent fall on the S&P 500.

Global miner Rio Tinto rose 1.3 percent after it approved a $3.1 billion iron ore expansion to meet booming demand from Asia, staking a claim to become the world’s top producer and defying industry concerns over a new Australian mining tax.

Investors, however, locked in profits on banks ahead of results from Morgan Stanley at 1130 GMT.

Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group shed 0.6 and 0.7 percent, respectively.

The banks have been helped by above-forecast earnings from BofA Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs on Tuesday, which backed up Citigroup’s numbers from Monday.

Britain’s central bank releases the minutes from its October 6-7 Monetary Policy Committee meeting, at which it kept interest rates steady at 0.5 percent and the stock of asset purchases unchanged at 200 billion pounds ($314.5 billion).

SPENDING REVIEW

In the UK, investors will closely watch developments from Parliament, where the coalition government will unveil its much-anticipated spending review that aims to cut public spending by 83 billion pounds by 2015.

Most government departments face cuts of about 25 percent over four years.

“There will always be devil in the detail and headlines to be made once the statement is out but really how dramatic the news is remains to be seen,” said Batstone-Carr.

Outsourcing company Serco Plc, which relies heavily on revenue from UK central government, dropped 2.3 percent.

Ex-dividend factors took off 1.86 points, with Smiths Group, BSkyB and BAE Systems all losing their payout attractions.

Smiths and BAE Systems have also been hurt by the defense cuts announced by the UK government on Tuesday.

ARM Holdings was 2.8 percent lower, extending the previous session’s losses after Apple, which uses ARM chips, disappointed investors late on Monday with weaker-than-expected gross margins and iPad shipments.

On the upside, Smith & Nephew gained 2.6 percent, the top FTSE 100 riser, with traders citing a positive read-across from results on Tuesday from the orthopaedic products firm’s U.S. peers Stryker Corp and Johnson & Johnson.

(Editing by Michael Shields)

Oils lead FTSE lower ahead of spending review