LONDON MARKET CLOSE: Stocks Slip As US-China Trade Doubts Creep In

LONDON (Alliance News) - Stocks slipped on Tuesday as the optimism seen on Monday over US-China ...

Alliance News 4 December, 2018 | 4:58PM
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LONDON (Alliance News) - Stocks slipped on Tuesday as the optimism seen on Monday over US-China relations, which had provided a major tailwind to equities, began to fade.

Among the worst performers in the FTSE 100 on Tuesday were BAE Systems and Ferguson, with gains for BT and Sage unable to offset this drag. Meanwhile, Royal Mail closed in the red ahead of its likely demotion to the FTSE 250 in Wednesday's latest index review.

The FTSE 100 index closed down 39.65 points, or 0.6%, at 7,022.76. The FTSE 250 ended down 234.21 points, or 1.3%, at 18,329.64, and the AIM All-Share closed down 16.10 points, or 1.7%, at 922.17.

The Cboe UK 100 ended down 0.6% at 11,930.30, the Cboe UK 250 closed down 1.4% at 16,383.37, and the Cboe Small Companies ended up 0.1% at 11,398.43.

"A tweet from the president, defining himself as a 'tariff man' (perhaps one of the least exciting superheroes around), has reminded everyone that the issue of trade wars has not gone away, and indeed his apparent success regarding China (and even here details are sketchy) may well embolden him to push harder on his European allies," Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG said.

The US and China over the weekend agreed to a 90-day ceasefire in their trade war, giving the sides time to continue negotiations. The hopes for an easing of trade tensions between the two countries had boosted equities, driving the FTSE 100 1.2% higher on Monday.

Meanwhile, the pound gave up some earlier gains to be quoted at USD1.2732 at the London equities close Tuesday - having traded above the USD1.28 mark earlier in the session - compared to USD1.2740 at the close on Monday.

This was despite good news for UK construction, with data showing the sector expanded at the fastest pace in four months in November thanks to an increase in new work and consequent gains in job creation.

The construction Purchasing Managers' Index climbed to 53.4 from 53.2 in October, beating economist forecasts for a score of 52.5. A reading above 50 suggests growth in the sector, whereas one below the mark indicates contraction.

The UK construction sector expanded for an eight month in a row and the latest reading was the highest since July. Job growth was the fastest since December 2015. However, business confidence was relatively subdued due to Brexit uncertainty.

In European equities on Tuesday, the CAC 40 in Paris ended down 0.8%, while the DAX 30 in Frankfurt slid 1.1%.

Eurozone producer price inflation accelerated further in October, defying expectations, figures from Eurostat showed Tuesday. Producer prices rose 4.9% year-on-year after a revised 4.6% in September. Economists had expected the rate to remain unchanged at September's original figure of 4.5%.

On a month-on-month basis, producer prices increased 0.8% after a 0.6% rise in September. Economists had forecast a 0.5% climb.

The euro stood at USD1.1352 at the European equities close Tuesday, against USD1.1355 at the same time on Monday.

Stocks in New York were lower at the London equities close, with the Dow Jones down 0.7%, the S&P 500 index also down 0.7%, and the Nasdaq Composite sliding a steeper 1.0%.

In London, Ferguson closed down 4.3% despite reporting strong revenue growth in the first quarter of its financial year as it saw a mixed performance geographically.

Revenue for the three months to the end of October was USD5.55 billion, up 9.0% from USD5.12 billion the year before, with organic growth of 6.7%. At constant exchange rates, US revenue rose by 12%, while Canada revenue increased by 8.9%; however UK revenue fell by 9.5%.

Another faller was BAE Systems, closing down 5.3% after Merrill Lynch cut its rating on the stock to Neutral from Buy.

BT closed up 2.0% after Goldman Sachs upgraded the telecommunications company to Buy from Neutral.

Accounting software firm Sage closed up 1.0% after choosing Non-Executive Director Jonathan Howell as the company's new chief financial officer, starting on Monday next week. Sage said that Howell will cease to be a non-executive director on commencement of his executive role. Howell has been on the Sage board since 2013.

Meanwhile, Kier Group fell in the FTSE 250, closing down 5.2%, after the stock was downgraded to Hold from Buy by Canaccord Genuity. The construction services firm also faces relegation from the mid-cap index in Wednesday's quarterly index review, the results of which are due out after the market closes.

Among other possible index changes, Royal Mail - which closed down 2.4% - is facing demotion from the FTSE 100 to be replaced by insurer Hiscox. Aston Martin and Funding Circle are among the stocks up for membership in the FTSE 250, while Thomas Cook is set to drop out of the index after a tough week for the travel firm.

IG Group tumbled 9.2% after the online trading platform said revenue in the half-year to November 30 is expected to be lower than last year due to new regulatory measures.

The spread betting and contracts-for-difference provider said it expects to report interim revenue around 6% lower than a year ago. In the six months to the end of November 2017, IG posted record interim revenue of GBP268.4 million, suggesting revenue in the recent year was about GBP252 million.

Go-Ahead Group shed 1.5% after the transport operator said it has reached an agreement with the UK Department for Transport regarding its Govia Thameslink Railway franchise.

GTR is a joint venture between public transport firm Keolis, which holds 35% stake, and Go-Ahead, holding the reminder.

The FTSE 250 constituent said the deal resolves matters relating to the industry-wide failures concerning the introduction of the May timetable.

GTR has provided GBP15 million of funding this year for passenger enhancements. However, the Department of Transport said Tuesday it will oblige GTR to contribute a further GBP15 million towards tangible improvements for passengers.

In commodities, Brent oil was quoted at USD61.92 a barrel at the London equities close Tuesday, higher compared to USD61.57 late Monday.

Gold was quoted at USD1,238.84 an ounce at the London equities close Tuesday, up from USD1,234.05 at the close on Monday.

In the economic calendar on Wednesday, there are services PMIs from Japan, China, France, Germany, the eurozone and the UK at 0030 GMT, 0145 GMT, 0850 GMT, 0855 GMT, 0900 GMT and 0930 GMT respectively. There are also eurozone retail sales at 1000 GMT.

In the afternoon, in the US, is the Federal Reserve's Beige Book at 1900 GMT. Markets in the US will be closed on Wednesday in light of the death of former US President George HW Bush.

In the UK corporate calendar, there are half-year results from Stagecoach Group, annual results from stockbroker Numis and alcohol producer Stock Spirits, and a trading statement from clothing retailer Joules.

By Lucy Heming; lucyheming@alliancenews.com

Copyright 2018 Alliance News Limited. All Rights Reserved.

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Securities Mentioned in Article
Security Name Price Change (%) Morningstar Rating
Ferguson PLC 5,200.00
BAE Systems PLC 453.00
Kier Group PLC 301.60 -
BT Group PLC 198.52 -
Go-Ahead Group (The) PLC 1,783.00 -
Royal Mail PLC 197.90 -
IG Group Holdings PLC 533.00 -
Sage Group (The) PLC 753.40
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