London stocks mixed as strong pound weighs on large caps

The FTSE 100 fell 37 points at the open on Wednesday, down 0.5% to 7,418, as a stronger pound weighed on exporters. Meanwhile, the domestically-focused FTSE 250 rose 72 points or 0.4% to 18,459 on hopes for UK resilience. The AIM All-Share also gained, up 1.6 points or 0.2% at 714.

In the FTSE 100, Hargreaves Lansdown rose 0.7% as it named Alison Platt chair, replacing Deanna Oppenheimer. Harbour Energy gained 4.5% after updating on “significant” free cash flow amid lower production in the nine months to September.

The FTSE 250 was led higher by firms counting on domestic strength to offset headwinds. But small-caps sunk, with Xaar and Halfords both plunging 18% amid disappointing guidance. Xaar warned of persisting weak demand into 2024, saying this will result in lower revenue and profit next year than previously expected.

Meanwhile, Halfords said annual profit will be second-half weighted due to recent market softening in discretionary big-ticket categories. The company warned it is challenging to predict whether these concerning trends will persist in the coming months.