London's stock indices hovered tentatively in early trading on Thursday amid a quiet day for macroeconomic events following the release of surprisingly mixed minutes from the US Federal Reserve overnight.
At 0930 BST the FTSE was pretty much flat at 7,366 after adding ten points the prior day while the FTSE 250 was likewise flat, having enjoyed a strong previous session.

Minutes from the June FOMC meeting revealed rate setters are not on the same page as to when to taper the nation's balance sheet and nor over what degree their might be financial stability risks in the system.

Analyst Mike van Dulken at Accendo Markets felt the minutes were more hawkish suggested the Fed was “readying for the great unwind of its financial crisis, QE-stimulus-bloated balance sheet, despite continued disappointing inflation data”.

He also noted that geopolitics remain prevalent with Gulf states criticising Qatar's negative response to diplomatic demands, US President Donald Trump seemingly goading North Korea and the IMF's Chistine Lagarde warning the G20 about growing risks to global growth.

Oil prices continued to zigzag, with a 1.5% rebound on Thursday morning thanks to API inventory data showing a 5.8m barrel drawdown, following a 2.7% drop on Wednesday that came after an eight day rise. This prevented the likes of BP and Shell tipping into the red, said analysts, while miners were less consistent, with Rio Tinto and Antofagasta down 0.5% and 1.8% respectively.

On currencies, analyst Connor Campbell at SpreadEx had this to say: “For sterling, its energy reserves are looking severely depleted, the currency opening 0.1% lower against the euro and flat against the dollar.

“The pound did receive a slight boost against the greenback yesterday evening, as the Fed meeting minutes highlighted that some members have serious concerns over the USA's persistently soft inflation. Yet those gains still only left cable just above $1.293, a long way from its recent $1.30-plus peak.”

A stronger pound may weigh on the FTSE 100, as a large majority of stocks earn most of their profits overseas.

A host of stocks going ex-dividend on Thursday was a definite weight on the main indices, with the list including Aveva, Burberry, N Brown, Dairy Crest, Homeserve, Next, Pennon, Talktalk and Telecom Plus.

Top of the leaderboard was Associated British Foods as it reported an improved performance in the third quarter, with particularly strong trading at its Primark clothing retail arm that has slightly lifted the full year expectations. Primark sales grew 21% in the for the 40 weeks to 24 June and 15% at constant currency rates versus the 22% at actual rates and 12% constant in the first half of the year.

Housebuilding stocks were up for a second day, boosted as embattled Bovis Homes said its trading performance for the first six months of 2017 was in-line with management expectations. This followed a strong update from Persimmon the previous session, which saw it, Barratt and Taylor Wimpey extending their gains for a second day.

ITV shares were up slightly and Easyjet down as reporteds emerged that the broadcaster is about to poach Dame Carolyn McCall to be its new chief executive. Easyjet also reported an 11.3% increase in the number of passengers it carried in June to reach 7.720m, alongside a 0.8 percentage point improvement in its so-called load factor to 94.8%.

Reckitt Benckiser shares fell after it updated the market on the cyberattack which happened on 27 June, claiming it had made “good progress” in getting key applications and systems “back on track” so it could resume normal trading with all of its customers and partners. But the company now expects like-for-like net revenue in 2017 to increase by about 2%, down from an earlier growth forecast of 3%, which would equate to about £100m in lost revenue.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,366.55 -0.01%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 19,436.95 -0.07%
techMARK (TASX) 3,513.43 0.21%

FTSE 100 – Risers

Associated British Foods (ABF) 3,050.00p 4.38%
Shire Plc (SHP) 4,421.50p 2.03%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 591.50p 1.63%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 181.00p 1.29%
Persimmon (PSN) 2,375.00p 1.28%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 340.20p 1.25%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 258.60p 1.13%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 867.50p 1.11%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,247.00p 1.01%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 220.00p 0.96%

FTSE 100 – Fallers

Next (NXT) 3,810.00p -2.43%
Convatec Group (CTEC) 302.50p -2.42%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 7,518.00p -2.36%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,613.00p -1.65%
Smurfit Kappa Group (SKG) 2,369.00p -1.33%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 816.00p -1.15%
Informa (INF) 660.00p -0.90%
Bunzl (BNZL) 2,249.00p -0.88%
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 4,239.00p -0.84%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 249.80p -0.83%

FTSE 250 – Risers

Lancashire Holdings Limited (LRE) 738.00p 3.87%
Sirius Minerals (SXX) 30.97p 2.21%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 268.40p 2.05%
CLS Holdings (CLI) 210.00p 2.04%
Bovis Homes Group (BVS) 985.50p 1.65%
Great Portland Estates (GPOR) 601.50p 1.52%
BTG (BTG) 704.50p 1.51%
Beazley (BEZ) 512.00p 1.39%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 701.00p 1.37%
Britvic (BVIC) 707.50p 1.36%

FTSE 250 – Fallers

Caledonia Investments (CLDN) 2,850.00p -4.20%
Nostrum Oil & Gas (NOG) 493.90p -3.44%
Mitie Group (MTO) 267.90p -2.93%
Telecom Plus (TEP) 1,120.00p -2.86%
TalkTalk Telecom Group (TALK) 181.30p -2.84%
Pennon Group (PNN) 798.50p -2.74%
Dairy Crest Group (DCG) 568.00p -2.66%
Euromoney Institutional Investor (ERM) 1,092.00p -2.15%
Hunting (HTG) 503.50p -2.04%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 154.40p -1.84%