LONDON MARKET CLOSE: Huawei CFO Arrest Sparks Stock Market Sell Off

LONDON (Alliance News) - Stocks in London ended sharply lower on Thursday, with the FTSE 100 ...

Alliance News 6 December, 2018 | 5:16PM
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LONDON (Alliance News) - Stocks in London ended sharply lower on Thursday, with the FTSE 100 slumping to a two-year low, amid heightened trade fears and Brexit concerns.

Stocks across the globe were engulfed in a sea of red after Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei's Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada over the weekend on suspicion of violating US trade sanctions against Iran and faces possible extradition to the US.

China urged Canada to release Meng and said it firmly opposes and strongly protests over such kind of actions, which seriously harm the human rights of the victim.

At present the US and China relations' are sensitive due to the ongoing trade spat between the two economic powerhouses which has seen both nations impose tit-for-tat tariffs on each other's goods.

China and the US are working to hammer out a deal to resolve trade differences over the next 90 days, although the latest development added to uncertainty about whether the truce negotiated by President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will give the two sides enough time to reach a long-term deal.

"The Huawei arrest appears to be the straw that broke the camel's back. The rapidly dwindling good-feeling towards the US and China's vague trade war ceasefire turned actively hostile on Thursday, investors fearing that, 90 day truce or not, the relationship between the two superpowers might be about to take a turn for the worse," noted Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.

The FTSE 100 index closed down 217.79 points, or 3.2%, at 6,704.05. The large cap index slumped to an intraday low of 6,719.19 in afternoon trade - its lowest level since late 2016.

The FTSE 250 ended down 517.79 points, or 2.8%, at 17,753.31, and the AIM All-Share closed down 21.42 points, or 2.4%, at 889.89.

The Cboe UK 100 ended down 3.7% at 11,323.82, the Cboe UK 250 closed down 3.0% at 15,867.22, and the Cboe Small Companies ended down 1.4% at 11,157.25.

"The US-China relationship was moving in the right direction after the G20 summit, and now dealers feel all the good work could be undone. It is a broad based sell-off that we are seeing in London, as mining, energy, financial and consumer stocks are all lower," said David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets.

On the London Stock Exchange, gold miners Randgold Resources and Fresnillo ended as the only blue chip risers, up 2.9% and 1.3% respectively, tracking spot gold prices higher.

Gold was higher quoted at USD1,241.50 an ounce at the London equities close against USD1,236.47 late Wednesday. Deemed a safe-haven asset, the precious metal often rises during times of market turmoil.

At the other end of the large cap index, miners Antofagasta and Glencore closed down 7.1% and 5.1%, respectively.

Financial services stocks ended in the red with Prudential, Schroders and Royal Bank of Scotland down 6.3%, 6.1% and 5.9%, respectively.

"Domestically focused stocks were under pressure, particularly banks and insurance companies ahead of the crucial Parliament vote next Tuesday. With the likelihood of a supportive vote for the Theresa May's Brexit proposal now very faint, investors are regrouping around a negative outcome," said City Index analyst Fiona Cincotta.

In the FTSE 250, Genus closed up 3.1% at 2,386 pence, after it was upgraded to Buy from Hold by Keppler Cheuvreux.

After the market close, the animal genetics firm said it intends to raise GBP68 million through a share placing to reduce its debt position. As at the end of June, Genus' net debt stood at GBP108.5 million.

Genus intends to issue 3.1 million shares at a price of 2,200 pence each. Peel Hunt LLP and Liberum Capital Ltd are acting as joint bookrunners in respect of the placing.

Ted Baker closed up 3.0% after the fashion retailer reported a "resilient" performance amid challenging trading conditions, as it responded to allegations of harassment against its founder & chief executive.

For the 16 weeks to December 1, the company said group revenue decreased by 0.2% on the prior year, due to an anticipated decline in wholesale sales, which fell 6.5%. However, a good retail sales performance, up 2.3% including e-commerce, "largely offset" the overall decline. E-commerce, on a standalone basis, saw sales up 18%, representing now 30% of the retailer's total sales.

Ted Baker has in the past week been rocked by a harassment scandal, after a Sky News report on Sunday revealed the company's staff had launched a online petition to put an end to forced "hugging" and inappropriate touching and comments by Founder & Chief Executive Ray Kelvin.

On Thursday, Ted Baker confirmed the appointment of Herbert Smith Freehills to conduct an independent external investigation into the allegations.

In political news, UK Prime Minister Theresa May has signalled that MPs could be given the power to decide whether the UK goes into a controversial Brexit backstop arrangement regarding the Northern Irish border. May indicated parliament would choose between triggering the backstop or extending a transition period after the UK formally quits the EU.

The move is likely to be seen as a bid to bolster flagging support ahead of a crunch Commons vote on her EU withdrawal deal next Tuesday - a showdown the PM made clear she would not postpone.

May told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "There will be a choice between, if we get to that point, a choice between going into the backstop and extending the transition period."

The backstop, intended to prevent the return of a hard border in Northern Ireland, has been a major stumbling block as Brexiteer MPs claim it traps the UK into obeying rules set by Brussels without a say over them.

The pound was firm quoted at USD1.2765 at the London equities close, compared to USD1.2744 at the close Wednesday amid weakness in the dollar.

In Paris the CAC 40 ended down 3.3%, while the DAX 30 in Frankfurt ended down 3.5%.

The euro was firm at USD1.1372 at the European equities close, against USD1.1345 late Wednesday.

Stocks in New York were sharply lower at the London equities close with DJIA down 2.9%, the S&P 500 index down 2.7% and the Nasdaq Composite down 2.0%.

On the economic front, private sector employment in the US increased by less than expected in the month of November, according to a report released by payroll processor ADP.

ADP said private sector employment climbed by 179,000 jobs in November after jumping by a downwardly revised 225,000 jobs in October.

Economists had expected an increase of about 195,000 jobs compared to the addition of 227,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

The ADP report serves as a precursor to the Department of Labor's nonfarm payrolls for November, which includes both public and private sector jobs and is set to be released at 1330 GMT on Friday. The economy is expected to have added 199,000 jobs with a jobless rate of 3.7%.

Brent oil was sharply lower quoted at USD58.97 a barrel at the London equities close from USD63.15 at the close Wednesday, after Khalid al-Falih, Saudi Arabia's energy minister, said a cut of 1 million barrels per day would be enough for OPEC and its allied oil producers.

There were indications that the influential oil cartel would curb output by at least 1.3 million barrels per day at the cartel's 175th meeting in Vienna.

In addition, the Wall Street Journal reported OPEC members on Thursday agreed to production curbs but will wait to hear from non-member Russia before making a final decision on the exact amount the cartel would cut to address falling oil prices.

"OPEC seems to be joining in the 'no deal' fun, with only an agreement 'in principle' to cut output. While oil is off the lows of the day, it is not likely to hold these lows for long if oil ministers don't agree a sizeable cut," said IG chief market analyst Chris Beauchamp.

The economic events calendar on Friday has Germany industrial production data at 0700 GMT, UK Halifax house price index readings at 0830 GMT and eurozone GDP figures at 1000 GMT.

The UK corporate calendar on Friday has half year results from housebuilder Berkeley Group and trading statements from commercial flooring maker James Halstead and from motor finance lender S&U.

By Arvind Bhunjun;

Copyright 2018 Alliance News Limited. All Rights Reserved.

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Securities Mentioned in Article
Security Name Price Change (%) Morningstar Rating
Genus PLC 2,660.00 -
Antofagasta PLC 846.20 -
Glencore PLC 273.25
Fresnillo PLC 736.80 -
Ted Baker PLC 1,443.00 -
Schroders PLC 3,073.00 -
Randgold Resources Ltd
The Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC 225.50
Prudential PLC 1,649.00
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