FTSE 100 flat at midday with US markets expected to open higher later


The FTSE 100 was flat at midday, trading around the 7,550 mark, consolidating its gains of recent days. The US market is expected to open higher when trading resumes on Wall Street this afternoon.

Supermarket giant Tesco lifted its profit guidance for the year, driven by a rising sales in the third quarter and the key Christmas period. Its shares fell 2% to 286.2p.

As a result of stronger than expected sales to date, the company said it now expect retail operating profit slightly above the top-end of our previous £2.5 billion to £2.6 billion guidance range.

Retailer Marks and Spencer fell 4.9% to 240.7p despite saying it was 'more confident' to deliver on its recently increased guidance after reporting a rise in sales in third quarter of the year including the key Christmas period.

'[W]e are more confident of our ability to deliver the increased guidance we set, and now expect full year profit before tax and adjusting items of at least £500 million,' the company said.

John Wood Group jumped 12% to 233.6p as the company said it would sell its environment business, with a sales agreement expected as soon as Q2.

The company also reported a fall in profit as revenue was hurt by weakness in its projects business as the company shifted focus away from large-scale fixed price work.

Recruitment company Hays firmed 1.5% to 154.1p after upgrading its profit outlook after reporting that net fees rose by more than a third in the second quarter of the quarter, led by jump in permanent hiring activity amid a buoyant labour market.

Given the strong fee performance, operating profit for the year to 30 June 2022 was expected to be about £200 million, ahead of consensus market expectations of about £183.5 million.

Pub group Mitchells & Butlers was flat at 257.6p after reporting a fall in first-quarter sales as emergence of the Omicron variant in December weighed on performance.

For the 15 weeks ended 8 January 2022, like-for-like sales were down 1.5%.

Insurance company Aviva was down 0.5% to 432.7p after announcing that Jason Windsor would resigned as chief financial officer on July 2022, to take up the position of CFO at Persimmon.

Homebuilder Persimmon fell 3% to £25.43 even as it reported a rise in annual revenue following increased home sales at higher prices.

For the year ended 31 December 2021, revenue rose to £3.61 billion from £3.33 billion in the year as new housing revenues increased 10% to £3.45 billion

Retailer ASOS gained 10.7% to £25 as it said it would move onto the main market of the London Stock Exchange by the end of next month.

'The time is now right to move to the main market as we focus on delivering our medium-term guidance and longer-term growth ambitions,' the company said.

The announcement was provided alongside a trading update for the four months through December 2021, showing sales growth of 5%, which was in line with the company's guidance.