London stocks fell in early trade on Wednesday, retreating from the record highs seen earlier in the week as traders stepped in to book some profits, with all eyes on the latest UK inflation figures.
At 0850 BST, the FTSE 100 was down 0.6% to 7,829.01, while the pound was down 0.4% against the dollar at 1.3374 and 0.2% firmer versus the euro at 1.1420.
Worries about relations between the US and China resurfaced after President Trump said on Tuesday that he was not happy with the progress being made on trade talks. He also said that there is a “very substantial chance” a historic summit with North Korea's Kim Jong-Un next month may not happen.
Analysts at Rabobank said: “His remarks also suggest that President Trump continues to prioritise the denuclearisation of North Korea. During his rebuttal to the press, he noted that -in his mind- a lot of the trade talk with China is also tied to the country's influence on North Korea, and how they are (not) helping to relax the tensions on the Korean peninsula. Trump specifically suggested that Kim Jong Un had taken on a less reconciliatory tone after he met with Xi Jinping.”
UK inflation data is due at 0930 BST, while the CBI distributive trades survey is at 1100 BST.
The consumer price index is seen unchanged at 2.5% year-on-year in April and the more meaningful core measure – which excludes volatile goods like fuel, food, cigarettes and alcohol – is expected to have slowed further from 2.3% to 2.2%, to its lowest in a year and closer to the Bank of England's 2% target.
“Inflation is falling back towards 2%, as the impact of GBP depreciation fades. How fast it falls back will be an important factor for how fast the Bank of England tightens monetary policy,” explained Danske Bank.
Investors will also eye the release of the latest FOMC meeting minutes in the US at 1900 BST.
In corporate news, Marks & Spencer was the standout gainer as its proposed revamp of the business trumped a better-than-expected 5.4% fall in annual profits as margins at the retailer's food business were squeezed by the rising cost of ingredients. After including a huge £514m of exceptional costs, mostly related to a £321m provision for the cost of the accelerated store closure programme announced earlier in the week, reported pre-tax profits slumped by 62% to £66m.
Water and sewage group Severn Trent advanced as it increased its dividend 6% after receiving an £80m incentive payment for outperforming on customer 'outcomes', also saying it would invest £100m of savings gained from efficiencies back in the business.
Rio Tinto edged higher after it confirmed it is in discussions to sell its entire interest in the Grasberg copper mine in Indonesia to Inalum, following reports that it could go for $3.5bn.
Drinks maker Britvic fizzed higher as it posted a jump in interim revenue and earnings and expressed confidence over the rest of the year, although pre-tax profit was dented by £21.6m of costs from its planned business capability programme.
Wealth manager St James's Place ticked up as it announced that chairwoman Sarah Bates had decided to retire as chair and as a director of the company. She will be succeeded by Iain Cornish.
PrimeLocation owner ZPG rose as it posted a 41% increase in first-half earnings, while Babcock and Softcat rallied as their full-year earnings beat expectations.
BBA Aviation was in the red after agreeing to buy fuel and fuel-related services supplier EPIC Fuels for a cash consideration of $88.1m.
Bovis Homes fell despite saying that market fundamentals remain strong and total sales for the year are in line with expectations, with pricing strong.
Cathedral City owner Dairy Crest tumbled as it announced plans to raise £69.9m in a 7.7% discounted share placing to fund an expansion of its cheese production facility.
Great Portland Estates was on the back foot even after saying it swung back into an annual profit.
In broker note action, Victrex was rated a new 'hold' at HSBC, and Elementis a new 'buy' while IAG was cut to 'reduce' by the same outfit.
Restaurant Group was downgraded to 'neutral' at JPMorgan, while Halfords was cut to 'hold' at N+1 Singer. Computacenter was initiated at 'buy' at Stifel and Grainger was cut to 'hold'.
FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,829.01 -0.61%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 21,115.34 -0.36%
techMARK (TASX) 3,541.70 -0.22%
FTSE 100 – Risers
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 303.61p 4.05%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 783.50p 2.16%
Next (NXT) 5,888.00p 1.06%
SSE (SSE) 1,438.00p 0.74%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,789.50p 0.72%
G4S (GFS) 274.30p 0.70%
Centrica (CNA) 148.35p 0.61%
Bunzl (BNZL) 2,318.00p 0.61%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 802.00p 0.60%
Experian (EXPN) 1,860.00p 0.54%
FTSE 100 – Fallers
Anglo American (AAL) 1,868.20p -3.02%
WPP (WPP) 1,324.00p -2.65%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,735.60p -2.45%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 4,307.00p -2.45%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 2,674.00p -2.39%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 2,764.50p -2.19%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 2,311.00p -2.16%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,074.50p -2.14%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 687.60p -2.13%
Glencore (GLEN) 381.55p -2.12%
FTSE 250 – Risers
Softcat (SCT) 718.80p 8.74%
Britvic (BVIC) 805.50p 6.20%
Thomas Cook Group (TCG) 125.70p 5.01%
Babcock International Group (BAB) 793.40p 3.79%
Homeserve (HSV) 883.00p 3.76%
Pets at Home Group (PETS) 141.69p 3.13%
Greencore Group (GNC) 168.00p 2.07%
Capita (CPI) 132.73p 1.63%
Alfa Financial Software Holdings (ALFA) 337.00p 1.51%
IG Group Holdings (IGG) 898.00p 1.41%
FTSE 250 – Fallers
Dairy Crest Group (DCG) 497.54p -7.26%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 805.20p -4.60%
Weir Group (WEIR) 2,243.00p -3.53%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 254.60p -3.49%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 263.80p -3.41%
Kaz Minerals (KAZ) 1,028.00p -3.25%
888 Holdings (888) 309.80p -2.76%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 880.80p -2.31%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 234.44p -2.03%
Cineworld Group (CINE) 262.60p -2.01%