Strong eurozone data drags pound to fresh eight-year low against the euro; ad giant WPP weighs on FTSE 100

Market report

Investors slammed the brakes on rising risk appetite yesterday as US president Donald Trump’s threat in front of a raucous rally of grassroots supporters to rip up the North American Free Trade Agreement and shutdown the government to secure funding for his Mexican wall pulled down stock markets.

The Dow Jones retreated into the red once again just a day after investors in the US cheered reports that a breakthrough had been made in tax reform talks between the president’s close team and Republican congressional figureheads.

In Europe, the imminence of the Jackson Hole central banking conference kept traders sitting on their hands and, with ECB president Mario Draghi’s speech in Lindau, Germany, yesterday offering up few clues to the markets, it was left to Mr Trump to swing market sentiment.

In the aftermath of Mr Trump’s speech, the dollar’s fresh weakness against the euro compounded on the sapping market sentiment to send big European exporters sliding with the DAX closing 0.3pc down and CAC 40 slipping 0.5pc. Meanwhile in London, the pound’s persistent softness salvaged the FTSE 100, which closed flat, rising 0.91 points at 7382.65.

Healthcare giants were the biggest beneficiaries from the renewed tax reform hopes hinting that Mr Trump could push through some of his agenda. Troubled pharma firm AstraZeneca nudged up 61p to £44.95 while blue-chip rival GlaxoSmithKline gained 13p to £15.17.

Fallout from Tuesday’s earnings continued to stoke movement with Provident Financial nosediving a further 8.4pc in intraday trade before reversing its losses to finish the top gainer on the blue-chip index. Analysts piled in on the doorstep seller’s catastrophic 66pc slide following its interim results on Tuesday with Liberum warning that the “pain is not over” and Barclays and JP Morgan downgrading the company.

Despite being bombarded by a wave of grim broker notes, Provident rallied to finish 71.5p higher at 661p.

Advertising giant WPP weighed heaviest on the UK’s benchmark index, diving 174p to £14.20, an 11pc fall, after a tough second quarter pulled down its sales growth forecast. Concerns that WPP’s difficulties were indicative of the sector meant ad-reliant broadcaster ITV slumped 3.1p at 162.6p.

Elsewhere on the FTSE 250, Meggitt climbed 12.5p to 510p after Jefferies upgraded the technology group once stalked by activist investor Elliott Advisors to “buy”, arguing that the fruits of the company’s turnaround should be apparent within a year.

Although its “rejuvenation has taken a lot more than a good night’s sleep” and will not be complete for years, the company will start to see revenue gain momentum from the second half of 2017, it told clients.

5:49PM

Markets wrap: Trump threats pull down market sentiment

The Dow Jones has nudged down into the red following Mr Trump’s speech to supporters

US president Donald Trump’s threat to end the North American Free Trade Agreement and cause a government shutdown to secure funding for his wall on the Mexican border has pulled down investor sentiment on the markets today.

After rallying strongly on tax reform hopes yesterday, the major US indices have slipped back into the red following Mr Trump’s speech in front of a crowd of grassroots supporters in Arizona last night.

On the FTSE 100, advertising giant WPP’s 11pc fall after it slashed its full-year sales growth forecast after a tough second quarter almost single-handedly stopped the index from breaking beyond flat territory with it closing just 0.91 point higher at 7382.65. Stock indices in Europe fared worse with the DAX retreating 0.5pc and the CAC 40 falling 0.3pc.

Doorstep lender Provident Financial rebounded from yesterday’s colossal fall to finish 12pc higher while NMC Health finished the top FTSE 250 riser after reporting a 34pc revenue increase.

Meanwhile on the currency markets, the pound drifted downwards to an eight-year low against the euro after a strong set of eurozone PMI readings indicated that growth in the region remains impressive.

Here’s IG market analyst Joshua Mahony’s take on today’s play:

“US markets are following their European markets lower today, with Trump once again proving himself to be the number one source of unpredictable volatility.

“The risk of a government shutdown appeared to have lessened when we saw Steve Bannon leave the White House, yet Trump’s confrontational stance appears to be alive and kicking given his announcement that he would be willing to cause a shutdown unless he receives funding for a wall.”

4:50PM

FTSE 100 stagnates in flat territory while Europe and US retreat into the red

The FTSE 100 has inched up 0.01pc today

Markets in Europe are now closed and the FTSE 100 has comfortably outperformed its European counterparts despite closing in flat territory, just 0.01pc higher.

US stocks have continued to struggle this afternoon with the Dow Jones stabilising at around 0.2pc down for the session. We’ll provide a summary of today’s events and the market report shortly…

4:23PM

First time buyers snap up properties in affordable Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland   

New homeowners are driving the buoyant housing markets in Scotland, Wale and Northern Ireland, taking advantage of low interest rates to get onto the ladder.

Growth rates in those areas are twice as high as those in London in the second quarter of 2017 as young would-be owners struggle to pay the larger sums needed to purchase property in the capital.

First-time buyer numbers grew by 29pc in Scotland in the quarter, 26pc in Wales and 15pc in Northern Ireland, compared with only 8pc in London, according to figures from UK Finance, the new industry group that replaced organisations including the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

Read Tim Wallace’s full report here

3:59PM

China’s Great Wall reverses away from potential purchase of Jeep from Fiat Chrysler

Jeep had been focus of Great Wall’s interest in Fiat Chrysler

Speculation that Great Wall Motor Company will attempt to buy Fiat Chrysler’s Jeep marque has been dampened down by the Chinese automotive business.

In a statement to the Shanghai stock exchange, Great Wall said it had not held any talks with FCA, adding that its approaches had “not generated concrete progress as of now”.

Just one day after the company said “there is an intention to make the purchase”, Great Wall rowed back, noting there were “big uncertainties” surrounding any potential deal.

FCA shares have been driven up more than 10pc over the past fortnight to €11.50 as dealers responded to rumours that part of the business could be sold. Attempts were made to identify the potential buyer before Great Wall outed itself on Monday.

Read Alan Tovey’s full report here

3:40PM

Mixed set of US data shows house market slowing but sharp rise in business activity 

Overall private sector activity grew at its fastest rate since May 2015

The US private sector experienced a sharp increase in business activity in August despite a slowdown in the manufacturing industry, IHS Markit’s composite PMI survey showed this afternoon.

A sharp uptick in the services figure helped buoy the overall figure to 56.9 in August from 54.7 the previous month, the fastest growth of overall activity since May 2015.

IHS Markit’s director Rob Dobson said this on the latest figures:

“The US economic growth story remained a tale of two sectors in August. The overall rate of expansion accelerated to a 27-month record, driven higher by strong and improved growth of business activity in the vast services economy.

“In contrast, the performance of manufacturing remained sluggish in comparison, with production volumes rising to the weakest extent in over a year. “Nonetheless, the acceleration signalled for the economy as a whole suggests that GDP growth is still gaining momentum during the third quarter.”

Meanwhile in the other major economics release, new house sales in the US stuttered in July, dipping far below expectations. While economists expected sales to drop to 610,000, the figures showed a sharper slowdown at 571,000 sales, a 9.4pc retreat from June’s number.

The data hasn’t done much for the pound’s performance against the dollar today. Sterling has stabilised at $1.2795 against the greenback this afternoon.

3:20PM

Enquest hit by delays at North Sea oil project

Enquest shares plunged 10pc after it revealed trouble with its Kraken oil field

North Sea oil company Enquest has taken a 10pc blow to its market value after telling investors that delays to a cornerstone project have cut into to its production for this year.

The heavily indebted independent was relying on oil flows from the Kraken project to bring in a $700m (£546m) a year boom to help erode its £1.5bn of debt after a major financial restructuring last year.

But the oil minnow’s latest trading update revealed that Kraken, which began production earlier this year, has failed to reach its full production rate and could drag the average rate for this year down by almost a quarter.

In addition lower global oil prices could wipe a further 10pc from the project’s revenues.

The group’s shares plunged over 10pc to 29p, its lowest ebb since last November.

Read Jillian Ambrose’s full report here

2:58PM

US indices dip into the red following Trump speech on NAFTA 

Trump threatens to 'shut down government' to build Mexico wallTrump threatens to ‘shut down government’ to build Mexico wall 00:57

The Dow Jones and co have slumped following the opening bell in New York as investor sentiment weakens once again on the latest pledge from Donald Trump.

After provoking a global sell-off a few weeks ago after he ratcheted up tensions with North Korea, Mr Trump has pulled equities back into the red following a speech in Arizona, in which he threatened to end the North American Free Trade Agreement and shut down the government in order to secure funding for his border wall with Mexico.

The Dow Jones, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq have dropped 0.3p early on.

2:25PM

US markets preview

The Dow Jones is expected to open lower this afternoon

The major US stock indices rallied strongly yesterday with the benchmark Dow Jones jumping just under 1pc despite Donald Trump sending a mix of sentiment-driving messages to the markets.

Investors cheered reports that the president’s team and senior Republican figures had made big steps forward on tax reform talks but his latest appeal to grass root supporters, which has included threats to end the North American Free Trade Agreement and shutdown the government to get funding for his wall on the Mexican border, has soured the mood a little. As a result, the Dow is expected to nudge a little lower when it opens.

Here’s IG chief market analyst Chris Beauchamp’s take on how the markets might interpret goings-on at the White House:

“Yesterday the headlines were all about how presidential Mr Trump had suddenly become, as he announced a continuation and expansion of the US commitment to Afghanistan. However, last night in Phoenix, we had a return to the Trump we became used to on the campaign trail.

“Evidently he feels the need to shore up his support base, and the warning about provoking a government shutdown in order to advance the Mexican wall has undercut the soothing tone put forth by Mitch McConnell yesterday. Plus there’s his warning about ‘terminating’ NAFTA. Hopes for calm look to have been dashed once more. “

Of the US economics releases this afternoon, PMI figures due at 14.45pm and new home sales data scheduled for release just a quarter of an hour later will be the main catalysts on the currency markets.

2:01PM

BHP Billiton unveils board shake-up as two directors depart

Former Ford boss Jac Nasser is standing down as BHP chair

The world’s largest mining company is to shake up its board after two directors announced they would be stepping down – one after just six months.

BHP Billiton said that Grant King, former chief executive of Australian firm Origin Energy, would not be seeking re-election at its AGMs later this year “owing to concerns expressed by some investors”.

Mr King, who had been considered a front runner to replace outgoing chair Jac Nasser, led Origin for 16 years until 2016. At the time of his appointment in February, Mr Nasser said the move “reflected the board’s commitment to a structured and rigorous approach to board succession and planning”.

Read Jon Yeomans’ full report here

1:46PM

Bupa sells 122 care homes for £300m

HC-One becomes the biggest UK operator of residential homes through the deal

HC-One has completed the £300m acquisition of 122 care homes from Bupa, in a deal that makes it the biggest UK operator of residential homes.

HC-One, formed out of the collapse of Southern Cross six years ago and run by chairman and former NHS doctor Chai Patel, will expand to around 350 homes with 22,000 care beds through the deal.

It has been expanding since being acquired by investors Court Cavendish, Formation Capital and Safanad in 2014.

Over the last three years it has already bought a total of 50 homes from care providers Meridan and Helen McArdle Care.

Read Iain Withers’ full report here

1:27PM

How low can the pound go against the euro?

Sterling has slipped to its lowest level against the euro in eight years but many will be wondering how low can it go? Parity?

Not much further, according to Dean Turner at UBS Wealth Management.

Here’s his prognosis on what he deems an “extremely undervalued” currency:

“I am often asked how much further the pound can fall. “Don’t fight the tape” is a phrase that springs to mind. Nonetheless, sterling looks extremely undervalued on most measures. Brexit will change the UK’s current trade relationship with the EU, but everything has its price.

“Indicators for the manufacturing sector show that the weaker currency is boosting export demand. It should also make the UK a relatively attractive place for foreign companies to invest. Political noise ebbs and flows and, with it, exchange rates. Eventually, economic fundamentals assert themselves, and they suggest that the pound’s journey south against the euro is probably closer to the end than the beginning.”

The reaction on the currency markets to Mario Draghi’s speech at the Jackson Hole conference on Friday will be when we likely find out if the pound has bottomed out against its European counterpart. 

1:14PM

From Tarot readings to cryotherapy: How retailers are trying to lure you into their stores

From Tarot readings to cryotherapy: How retailers are trying to lure you into their stores

There has been a general shift in consumer spending over the past few years away from “things” to experiences. To cater for this, British retailers are increasingly introducing fun and unusual services to encourage new customers through their doors, and to keep the ones they have inside longer and spending more money.

Sophie Christie takes a look at the strangest ways retailers try to lure you in.

12:35PM

Lunchtime update: Advertising giant WPP weighs heavily on the FTSE 100

WPP is the sharpest faller on the FTSE 100, which is treading water in flat territory

The FTSE 100 is treading water in flat territory today with advertising giant WPP’s 11pc plunge after it slashed its full-year sales growth forecast almost single-handedly holding back the blue-chip index.

A stronger euro is weighing on equities on the continent while renewed tax reform hopes in the US and president Donald Trump’s threat to end the North American Free Trade Agreement and shut down the government to get funding for his Mexican wall is pulling investor sentiment in different directions.

On the currency markets, the pound has slipped to a fresh eight-year low against the euro this morning after strong eurozone PMI readings indicated that robust growth in the region will continue. Meanwhile against the dollar, the pound has just touched back over $1.28 following a morning dip blamed on persistent Brexit fears.

Henry Croft, research analyst at Accendo Markets, provided this analysis of today’s markets:

“Global equities are marginally lower heading into this afternoon as macroeconomic data and corporate results drive market sentiment. Strong Manufacturing PMI readings from Western Europe – including the headline economic area’s print – have awoken Euro bulls after this week’s sell-off, consequently clipping the US dollar’s wings.

“As a result, the German DAX’s numerous exporters are holding back the index, while the FTSE is being dragged lower as yet another stock suffers severely after a corporate update. “

Here’s the current state of play in Europe: 

FTSE 100: -0.01pc

DAX: -0.07pc

CAC 40: -0.02pc

IBEX: -0.48pc

12:17PM

Mario Draghi speech swerves monetary policy to frustrate traders

US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen and ECB president Mario Draghi will give speeches at Jackson Hole on Friday

Mario Draghi didn’t give much away in this morning’s speech ahead of his much anticipated appearance at the Jackson Hole central banking conference. Traders will be waiting a little longer for some ECB monetary policy clues but here are some of the best parts picked out by Bloomberg from today’s appearance:

In a speech that avoided any specific signals on the European Central Bank’s current deliberations, the institution’s president said officials must be “unencumbered by the defense of previously held paradigms that have lost any explanatory power.” 

“When the world changes as it did ten years ago, policies, especially monetary policy, need to be adjusted,” he said in a prepared text. He then added in an unscripted remark that “that’s obvious for most people, but not for everybody.”

Here’s what he had to say about quantitative easing:

“My view is that the unconventional actions that the Federal Reserve took in the early stages of the crisis were extremely effective as a major lender of last resort,” he said in a Bloomberg TV interview with Francine Lacqua.

“The subsequent quantitative easing I don’t think was harmful, I think it may have been somewhat helpful, but I don’t think it’s been a major powerful instrument of monetary policy.”

“You need serious conceptual analysis and base policy on that, not on prejudice, or — even worse — on moral grounds,” he told reporters after his speech. “Some people say ‘Oh, QE is immoral, because it creates money out of nothing.”

On the markets traders are “sitting on their hands” ahead of the big speeches at Jackson Hole on Friday, according to CMC Markets analyst David Madden.

Mr Madden commented:

“Equity markets in Europe are broadly unchanged this morning after a strong finish in the US last night. The buying momentum that we saw in Europe yesterday has dissipated, and traders are looking ahead to the Jackson Hole symposium which kicks off tomorrow.

“The President of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, didn’t give much away during his speech this morning. Mr Draghi talked about the recovery in the region, but he didn’t drop any clues about what lies ahead for monetary policy. We will have to have wait for his speech at the Jackson Hole symposium.”

11:43AM

Game Digital shares rocket on better than expected trading

Game issued a profit warning earlier this year

Shares in video game retailer Game Digital soared by more than 35pc in early trading as the company revealed better-than-expected sales and hinted it may offload the digital branch of gaming events division Multiplay.

Sales in the second half of the financial year grew by 9pc in the UK and 26pc in Spain as the company was boosted by the popularity of the Nintendo Switch console. However, full-year sales in the UK were still down by 7pc.

In a strategic update, Game said it was further prioritising its e-sport activities following a review, and “evaluating strategic options” for its Multiplay Digital division, which hosts servers for gaming.

The suggestion that it may sell the division has helped send shares soaring, with Liberum analyst Adam Tomlinson saying it would be a “sensible” move.

Read Sam Dean’s full report here

11:30AM

FTSE stuck in flat territory; WPP-related ad concerns pull down ITV

Concerns about advertising revenues following WPP’s figures has pulled down ITV this morning

It’s about time we had a quick sitrep on the other big movers in London this morning. Other than WPP’s fall, movement on the FTSE 100 has been fairly muted with the overall index stuck in flat territory.

The concerning advertising figures coming out of WPP have pulled down ad-reliant broadcaster ITV while the housebuilders have retreated from yesterday’s highs inspired by Persimmon’s strong figures.

At the other end, Big Four supermarket Tesco’s strong performance in yesterday’s Kantar Worldpanel sales figures and the opening of a compensation scheme for 10,000 shareholders who were misled by the company overstating its profits in 2014 has lifted it 1.9pc.

Meanwhile on the FTSE 250, NMC Health has risen 4.7pc on its latest earnings and engineering group Meggitt has popped 3.7pc thanks to a broker upgrade from Jefferies.

10:59AM

WPP 12pc slide reaction: Cut sales forecast could be the sign of a trend

WPP’s chief executive Martin Sorrell

Advertising giant WPP is still marooned at the bottom of the FTSE 100 after sliding 12pc on its disappointing interim results this morning and now the analysts are giving their two cents on the plunge.

Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG, pointed out that WPP is seen as a bellwether for the global economy and that “the news sounds a warning about growth in developed markets, putting a significant dent in the bullish case for stocks”.

WPP’s woes could continue, according to CMC Markets analyst David Madden:

“The advertising giant cited falling demand from its clients as a reason for the reduced revenue forecast. This is the second time the sale forecast has been trimmed this year, and that is a warning sign to traders, as it could be the start of a trend.

“In 2017, the share price has created a series of lower lows and lower highs, which is a worrying sign.”

 Investec’s Steve Liechti gave this summary of the results: 

“Not a complete surprise given peer trading/commentary, but first half like-for-like figures are poor, with the second quarter below forecast and July down also.”

The Twitterati has been incredibly sympathetic as always…

10:31AM

Laura Ashley sales drop as weak pound causes profit plunge

Laura Ashley issued a profit warning earlier this month

Profits at Laura Ashley plummeted by more than 70pc as the retailer blamed the weakness of sterling for its troubles and scrapped its dividend.

In results posted a week after it issued a stark profit warning, Laura Ashley said profits before tax had fallen from £22.8m to £6.3m in the full year, a fall of 72pc. However, the comparable period for the previous financial year was 74 weeks.

On a like-for-like basis, the company’s retail sales were down 3.1pc. It will not recommend a final dividend.

Laura Ashley said its sales were affected by the closure of 22 concessions in Homebase following the takeover of the DIY chain by Australia’s Wesfarmers group.

Shares have retreated 4.1pc this morning.

Read Sam Dean’s full report here

10:23AM

Pound slides 0.5pc against the euro to a fresh eight-year low

The pound hit its lowest level against the euro at the end of 2008

Despite the tight-lipped Draghi speech in Germany, the pound has had a really poor morning against the euro. It has fallen 0.5pc to €1.0858, an eight-year low.

There has been a lot of talk following the EU referendum of the pound reaching parity with the euro but we’ve come closer before. In December 2008 the pound dropped to €1.0201 against euro and had recovered to above €1.40 only by 2015.

Mario Draghi signalling soon the tightening of monetary policy could tip the balance in the euro’s favour but one has to also assume that the very strong economics data coming out of the eurozone of late will slow at some point.

Pantheon Macro believes that there has been “excessive optimism” over the recovery:

“The main driver of the depreciation has been a huge shift in sentiment in favour of the eurozone, as the region’s recovery finally has gathered pace.

“Eurozone GDP rose by 0.5% and 0.6% quarter- on-quarter in Q1 and Q2, respectively, virtually guaranteeing that year-over-year growth will exceed 2% this year for the first time since 2010. Investors now are overwhelmingly net long the euro, following several years of shorting it,

10:09AM

Eurozone PMI reaction: Slight fall in momentum due in third quarter

The PMI figure has been too optimistic in recent quarters, says Pantheon Macro

Strong manufacturing did the heavy lifting in this morning’s robust eurozone PMI figures but a dip in the third quarter reading will indicate a slightly slowing region, according to Pantheon Macro.

Its eurozone economist Claus Vistesen commented:

“Overall, we think the EZ composite PMI probably will fall slightly in Q3 compared with Q2, signalling a modest loss of momentum following the brisk pace in the first half of the year.

“But it does not change the main message from the survey that GDP growth in the euro area will stay resilient in the near term.”

9:53AM

ECB’s Draghi gives little away ahead of Jackson Hole; pound slips below $1.28 against the dollar

Mario Draghi could signal a shift in policy at the Jackson Hole conference this weekend

ECB president Mario Draghi gave little away over the central bank’s next steps regarding monetary policy in his speech in Lindau, Germany, this morning.

Traders were hoping for small clues on when the ECB might taper its quantitative easing programme ahead of the Jackson Hole conference this weekend.

Mr Draghi was originally expected to indicate a change in policy at Jackson Hole from the ECB’s €60bn-a-month bond buying programme but reports surfaced last week that he would remain tight-lipped. There are fears that a surge in the euro if Mr Draghi signalled the tightening of monetary policy would weigh on inflation and actually slow down the the ECB’s normalisation plans.

Elsewhere on the currency markets, the pound has slipped below $1.28 against the dollar for the first time since the end of June with the usual Brexit-related fears pinned on today’s slide.

9:29AM

WPP drags on FTSE 100; UK division a bright spot in its figures

The FTSE 100 has recovered to flat territory following this morning’s dip but advertising giant WPP’s 10pc fall is almost single-handedly stopping the index from advancing.

Investors are punishing the company for slashing its sales growth forecast on a tougher second quarter with July’s like-for-like revenue growth falling to -4.1pc.

Although WPP has pinned part of the blame on rising populism in places such as the UK, its division here was one of the few regions, along with Latin American and Central and Eastern Europe, where revenue actually held up. 

Spreadex analyst Connor Cambpell commented that the company is now on course for its worse year since the 2009 “ad recession”.

He said:

“Much of that drag came from Martin Sorrell’s WPP, which plunged 8% this Wednesday after the advertising giant was forced to cut its full year forecasts. The firm now expects annual revenue and net sales growth of between zero and 1%, down from the 2% stated in March (and the 3% suggested before that), leaving it on track for its worse year since the 2009 ad recession.

“That’s because reduced client spending, itself thanks to macro-economic uncertainty, meant net sales in the first half of 2017 fell by 0.5%, far worse than the 0.6% to 0.7% growth anticipated by analysts, including an especially alarming 1.7% drop in Q2 net sales.”

9:13AM

Eurozone PMI figures indicate strong momentum in the currency bloc

Eurozone PMI figures indicate continued strong momentum in the region

The eurozone’s composite PMI beat expectations to nudge up slightly to 55.8 in August, according to figures from IHS Markit, indicating that the currency bloc’s strong momentum hasn’t let up.

Although growth in the services sector cooled, a rise in the manufacturing reading offset the small services dip with new orders exports rising at its fastest in six-and-a-half years helping to lift the figures.

Earlier, stronger-than-expected German and French PMI figures gave a hint that the region’s composite reading would come in stronger with the French figures almost exactly mirroring the currency bloc’s overall trend.

Here’s what IHS Markit’s associate director Andrew Harker had to say on the figures:

“The latest PMI readings for the eurozone signal a continuation of the recent strong performance of the currency bloc’s economy. This stabilisation in the rate of expansion is pleasing, following signs of growth easing in recent months.

“The survey data over the first two months of the quarter are consistent with only a fractional easing in the rate of growth of GDP from the 0.6% rise in Q2.

“Overall, this is another positive set of numbers for the euro area, which continues to enjoy its best growth spell for a number of years.”

Since the PMI figures started to trickle through and ECB president Mario Draghi started speaking, the pound has dropped to €1.0876, down 0.4pc for the day.

8:53AM

WPP dives 11pc on FTSE 100; blames ‘rising social, political and economic volatility’

WPP’s sales growth was now expected to be between 0-1pc

Advertising giant WPP has dived nearly 11pc this morning after revealing that a tough second quarter will hold back its growth this year. 

Sales growth was now expected to be between 0-1pc, down from forecasts of 2pc.

The company said that the “increasing social, political and economic volatility” and the “rise in populism” meant that “growth has become even more difficult to find”.

It said: “The group’s performance in the first seven months of the new financial year has been much tougher, as worldwide GDP growth, both nominal and real, seems to have slowed in the second half of last year and into the new year.”

Here’s what Hargreaves Landsdown select funds manager Steve Clayton’s take on WPP’s interim results this morning:

“Life is getting tougher in the media world, with WPP experiencing a slowdown in trading in June and July, spread across much of the world and in many different media sectors.

“Forecasts will inevitably be trimmed to reflect the new guidance but we don’t expect to see the numbers move by much overall. It is hard going for all players in media-land at the moment; clients are keeping a tight lid on spending and procurement departments are ruthless in the way they push agencies to lower prices.”

8:33AM

Agenda: Rising risk appetite halted by Trump’s threat to NAFTA; WPP dives on FTSE 100

Concerns that Mr Trump will try and end the North American Free Trade Agreement put the brakes on rising investor sentiment

Trump giveth and Trump taketh away. Overnight, US president Donald Trump’s scattergun approach caught the markets in two minds as renewed hopes that he can push through tax reforms lifted equities but his threat to end the North American Free Trade Agreement and shut down the US government if he does not receive funding for his wall along the Mexican border put the brakes on the rising risk appetite.

That stopped the pound drifting any lower against the dollar but it still remains stuck at $1.2820 with a dearth of UK economics data available to change the momentum. Sterling might have better luck against the euro with PMI figures from the eurozone due and ECB president Mario Draghi speaking this morning. The pound has slipped to an eight-year low against the euro this week.

After yesterday’s strong gains, the FTSE 100 has retreated into the red once again, nudging down 0.1pc early on. Advertising giant WPP is this morning biggest laggard, diving 8.7pc, after cutting its growth forecast.

Interim results: Hansteen Holdings, WPP Group, Carillion, Vedanta Resources

AGM: Independent News & Media, Doriemus, Triad Group

Economics: Flash PMI (EU), New home sales (US)