How to trade FTSE 100 stocks

The FTSE 100 is one of the most globally recognised indices, listing 100 of the UK’s largest companies. As the economy recovers from the pandemic, investors are identifying many trading opportunities in these stocks. So, what are FTSE 100 stocks and how can you trade them?

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What is the FTSE 100 index?

The FTSE 100 is a stock index composed of 100 of the largest companies listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE). With the FTSE 100 covering around 80% of the total market capitalisation of the entire LSE, the index is seen as a benchmark and indicator of UK economic performance.

Learn more about trading the FTSE 100 

Top FTSE 100 stocks

Three main factors of stocks that traders look at are market capitalisation, share price and the amount paid out in dividends.

Share price is important as that shows how much you must pay to buy a stock, while market capitalisation is a greater indicator of how big a stock is – as a small company can have a high share price. Dividends, on the other hand, don’t relate to the size or price of a company. However, it’s still important to know the yield you’ll get back on your investment via dividends as this should factor into your trading strategy.

Here are the top FTSE 100 stocks based on those three main criteria.

Market capitalisation (£ billion) *

Market capitalisation is one major factor that traders look at to determine the performance and size of a stock. Market cap is calculated by multiplying the share price with the number of shares of a company. Here are the top five FTSE 100 stocks based on market cap.

#1 – AstraZeneca (133.40)

Despite being the driving force behind vaccination efforts for the pandemic, AstraZeneca saw some strong volatility in 2020 and 2021. Yet with the successful rollout of the COVID vaccine, the pharmaceutical company has become the largest stock on the FTSE 100 index based on market capitalisation. It’s also listed on the NYSE.

#2 – Unilever (102.79)

Unilever is a consumer goods giant with products in over 190 countries and is listed on both the FTSE 100 and the Euro Stoxx 50 index. Despite revenue and net income dropping from 2017 and 2018 highs respectively, it has grown substantially in recent years to reach a colossal market capitalisation.

#3 – Diageo (83.03)

Diageo has made its success by investing in beverages, and to date it owns over 200 brands in 180 countries. Strong financial figures over the last 24 months have put Diageo firmly on investors’ radar and more success might follow, as the firm’s strategy now focuses on expanding into the growing Asian markets.

#4 – HSBC (79.10)

HSBC is a titan of the banking industry, serving over 40 million customers globally. HSBC’s foundation dates back to 1865, where it first launched in Hong Kong. It survived tough patches during both world wars but since the mid-1950s HSBC has emerged as an international bank that operates across 65 countries. 

#5 – GlaxoSmithKline (74.27)

Founded in 2000 as a merger between GlaxoWellcome and SmithKline, GlaxoSmithKline’s rise has been meteoric. In 2020 it was in the top 10 largest pharmaceutical companies in the world based on revenue1, and is not only listed on the LSE but also the NYSE.

*Market caps as of 6 September 2021

Dividend (yield percentage) *

Dividend yield is the return an investor receives in dividend payments as a percentage of the share price. For instance, if a stock has a price of 1000p and its dividend pays 50p, that company’s dividend yield would be 5% (as 50p is 5% of the 1000 stock price). Dividends are appealing to investors as they’re a form of return on an investment in a stock, regardless of whether its price actually rises or not. Here are the top five FTSE 100 stocks based on recent dividend yields.

#1 - Imperial Brands (8.79%)

Based on market share, Imperial Brands is the fourth-largest tobacco company in the world and is the largest producer of fine-cut tobacco and tobacco papers. The company owns several major brands in the industry and sell goods in over 160 countries.

#2 - Evraz (8.33%)

Owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, famed for also owning Chelsea Football Club, Evraz is a steel manufacturing and mining company. It only started paying dividends in 2017 but has since become the second-highest dividend-paying stock on the FTSE 100.

#3 - M&G (8.00%)

M&G is an investment management company. Like Evraz, it only recently began paying dividends but now offers one of the highest yields on the FTSE 100. From the financial year ending in 2020, the company managed assets on behalf of its clients worth £352 billion.

#4 - Persimmon (7.78%)

With a relatively cheap share price and a high yield, Persimmon is a popular choice for many traders. The York-based company specialises in building houses and does so in over 380 locations around the world.

#5 - British American Tobacco (7.64%)

Listed on four stock exchanges, British American Tobacco is a multinational giant in the global tobacco industry. As of 2019, it was the largest tobacco firm in the world based on net sales and its brands include well-known names such as Pall Mall and Lucky Strike.

*Dividends correct as of July 2021

Stock price (GBX)*

Although it’s not an accurate measure of company size (as a small company can inflate its stock price by limiting the number of stocks available, increasing demand), stock price is still very relevant to traders.. Below are the five most expensive stocks listed on the FTSE 100. 

#1 – Spirax-Sarco Engineering (16,510.00)

Spirax-Sarco is an engineering manufacturer that attracts attention in the investing world as the most expensive stock on the FTSE 100. It has experienced exceptional growth over the last decade and some traders believe its prosperity could continue well into the long term.

#2 – Flutter Entertainment (14,675)

Flutter Entertainment is a major player in the UK online sports betting and gaming industry, owning several major brands like SkyBet and Betfair. However, it’s the US market that seems to be the most lucrative. Flutter Entertainment already owns FOX Bet and is looking to expand that brand to make further waves in the US market.

#3 – Ferguson (10,580)

Ferguson is a seller of heating and plumbing supplies with over one million global customers. Since the market-wide sell-off in March 2020 due to the pandemic, its price has rebounded strongly and has more than doubled in value.

#4 – Croda International (9,234)

Croda International is another stock that’s seen its share price more than double since the pandemic hit. The 2020 acquisition of Spanish company Iberchem will enable Croda International, a chemicals company, to further expand operations into China and the Middle East, but can it add to an already impressive share price?

#5 – AstraZeneca (8,204)

The role AstraZeneca played in rolling out the vaccine unsurprisingly had a positive effect on its share price, with it surpassing 10,000in July 2020. It’s since fallen back down due to several different factors, one being investors’ worries over a $39 billion acquisition of Alexion.

*Share prices correct as of 10 September 2021

How to trade FTSE 100 stocks

At City Index, you can trade FTSE 100 stocks with us, and take advantage of price movement in either direction. To do this, follow these simple steps below:

  1. Open a live City Index account and gain access to thousands of markets
  2. Explore the array of different equities we offer, including FTSE 100 stocks
  3. Choose to go long or short
  4. Select your position size by choosing an amount to trade
  5. Manage the risk of your position by setting your stops and limits
  6. Click ‘Place Trade’ to open your position  

Alternatively, you can practise trading FTSE 100 stocks in a risk-free environment with a demo account.

What factors move FTSE 100 stocks?

Several factors can move FTSE 100 stocks’ prices, but some are more influential than others. The value of the pound, the strength of the UK economy and earnings season are main price-moving examples.

How does the pound affect FTSE 100 stocks?

The British pound affects FTSE 100 stocks as GBP’s value against other currencies is very significant to the UK’s top companies. FTSE 100 companies for the most part operate on a global scale, whether it’s selling products internationally or sourcing supplies from abroad that are cheaper than buying them locally.

So, when the pound is strong against other currencies, buying imports from foreign countries is cheaper, but selling their goods internationally is more expensive. If their goods are more expensive to international buyers, then sales will likely decrease in these regions as some buyers will be deterred by the more expensive price and look elsewhere for cheaper alternatives.

Example of the pound impacting a FTSE 100 stock

Let’s use a UK coffee company as an example. If that company imports coffee beans from South America, they must convert pounds into the local South American currency to buy the beans. If the pound rises in value against the local South American currency, then the imports of beans become cheaper as £1 will now have greater purchasing power.

Similarly, if the UK company then wishes to sell its coffee in the eurozone when the pound is strong, its product becomes less appealing to buyers as the price of the coffee in euros will rise.

How does economic strength affect FTSE 100 stocks?

If the economy is strong, this will have a number of knock-on effects that benefit the FTSE 100 stocks. Firstly, consumer confidence will be higher in a booming economy because employment will typically be high, meaning less risk of unemployment and not being able to make money. People will feel less need to save money if they have high job security.

Furthermore, with more people in work disposable income increases, FTSE stocks will see a rise in demand for their products. This positively impacts revenues, and with confidence high, companies might choose to reinvest income into capital like new infrastructure, which further grows the company and adds efficiency.

How does earnings season affect the FTSE 100 stocks?

Depending on whether or not a company meets expectations, earnings season has the potential to strongly affect the prices of FTSE 100 stocks.

Earnings reports provide key information from the previous quarter or year, which allows investors to evaluate a company’s performance and predict its future prosperity. These reports also provide future guidance and aspirations for how the company itself believes it will perform going forward.

Learn how to read an earnings report

Overall, these reports contain a wealth of different quantitative and qualitative information that is used by investors to formulate their decisions, so we commonly see volatility during these earnings periods.

What are the FTSE 100 stocks? *

The FTSE 100 stocks are the 100 largest stocks listed on the LSE based on market capitalisation. The FTSE is reviewed each quarter, with any LSE stock falling out of the top 110 places by market capitalisation being replaced by any LSE stock that enters the top 90. Below are the current FTSE 100 stocks at the time of writing, their ticker symbols and the industry they operate in.

Stock

Ticker Symbol

Industry

3i

III

Financial

Abrdn

ABDN

Financial

Admiral Group

ADM

Insurance

Anglo American plc

AAL

Mining

Antofagasta

ANTO

Mining

Ashtead Group

AHT

Support Services

Associated British Foods

ABF

Food/Beverage

AstraZeneca

AZN

Healthcare

Auto Trader Group

AUTO

Media

Avast

AVST

Software/Computing

Aveva

AVV

Software/Computing

Aviva

AV.

Insurance

B&M

BME

Retail

BAE Systems

BA.

Aerospace and Defence

Barclays

BARC

Financial

Barratt Developments

BDEV

Household

Berkeley Group Holdings

BKG

Household

BHP

BHP

Mining

BP

BP.

Oil/Gas

British American Tobacco

BATS

Tobacco

British Land

BLND

Investment

BT Group

BT.A

Telecoms

Bunzl

BNZL

Support Services

Burberry

BRBY

Retail

Coca-Cola HBC

CCH

Food/Beverage

Compass Group

CPG

Support Services

CRH plc

CRH

Construction

Croda International

CRDA

Chemicals

DCC plc

DCC

Support Services

Diageo

DGE

Food/Beverage

Entain

ENT

Travel/Leisure

Evraz

EVR

Mining

Experian

EXPN

Support Services

Ferguson plc

FERG

Support Services

Flutter Entertainment

FLTR

Travel/Leisure

Frensillo

FRES

Mining

GlaxoSmithKline

GSK

Healthcare

Glencore

GLEN

Mining

Halma

HLMA

Electronics

Hargreaves Lansdown

HL.

Financial

Hikma Pharmaceuticals

HIK

Healthcare

HSBC

HSBA

Financial

IHG Hotels & Resorts

IHG

Travel/Leisure

Imperial Brands

IMB

Tobacco

Informa

INF

Media

Intermediate Capital Group

ICP

Investment

International Airlines Group

IAG

Travel/Leisure

Intertek

ITRK

Support Services

ITV plc

ITV

Media

JD Sports

JD.

Retail

Johnson Matthey

JMAT

Chemicals

Just Eat Takeaway

JET

Software/Computing

Kingfisher

KGF

Retail

Land Securities

LAND

Investment

Legal & General

LGEN

Insurance

Lloyds Banking Group

LLOY

Financial

London Stock Exchange Group

LSEG

Financial

M&G

MNG

Investment

Melrose Industries

MRO

Automobiles

Mondi

MNDI

Paper

National Grid plc

NG.

Utilities

NatWest Group

NWG

Financial

Next plc

NXT

Retail

Ocado Group

OCDO

Food/Beverage

Pearson plc

PSON

Media

Pershing Square Holdings

PSH

Financial

Persimmon plc

PSN

Household

Phoenix Group

PHNX

Insurance

Polymetal International

POLY

Mining

Prudential plc

PRU

Insurance

Reckitt

RKT

Household

RELX

REL

Media

Rentokil Initial

RTO

Support Services

Rightmove

RMV

Media

Rio Tinto

RIO

Mining

Rolls-Royce Holdings

RR.

Aerospace and Defence

Royal Dutch Shell

RDSA

Oil/Gas

Royal Mail

RMG

Industrial Transportation

Sage Group

SGE

Software/Computing

Sainsbury’s

SBRY

Food/Beverage

Schroders

SDR

Financial

Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust

SMT

Financial

Segro

SGRO

Investment

Severn Trent

SVT

Utilities

DS Smith

SMDS

General Industrials

Smiths Group

SMIN

General Industrials

Smith & Nephew

SN.

Healthcare

Smurfit Kappa

SKG

General Industrials

Spirax-Sarco Engineering

SPX

Engineering

SSE plc

SSE

Utilities

Standard Chartered

STAN

Financial

St. James’s Place plc

STJ

Financial

Taylor Wimpey

TW.

Household

Tesco

TSCO

Food/Beverage

Unilever

ULVR

Personal Goods

United Utilities

UU.

Utilities

Vodafone Group

VOD

Telecoms

Weir Group

WEIR

Industrial Goods and Services

Whitbread

WTB

Retail Hospitality

WPP plc

WPP

Media

*FTSE 100 stocks as of 21 June 2021

1Drug Discovery Trends, 2021

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