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LONDON MARKET CLOSE: Uncertainty Sees Stocks End Mixed On Eve Of G20

(Alliance News) - Stocks in London ended mixed on Thursday as uncertainty ahead of the highly ...

Alliance News 27 June, 2019 | 5:03PM
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(Alliance News) - Stocks in London ended mixed on Thursday as uncertainty ahead of the highly anticipated G20 meeting between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping played on the minds of investors.

Trump and Xi are not expected to come out of the meeting with a final trade deal, but investors will be looking for signs of progress toward kick-starting the stalled negotiations between the two economic superpowers. The pair will meet for the first time in seven months in Osaka, Japan.

A report from the Wall Street Journal said Xi plans to present Trump with a set of terms the US should meet before Beijing is ready to settle the trade dispute.

Lifting the ban on the sale of US technology to Chinese telecom giant Huawei, removing all tariffs and dropping efforts to get China to buy more US exports are said to be among the preconditions.

The FTSE 100 index closed down 14.06 points, or 0.2%, at 7,402.33. The FTSE 250 ended up 54.07 points, or 0.3%, at 19,314.46, and the AIM All-Share closed down 0.39 points, at 923.61.

The Cboe UK 100 ended down 0.2% at 12,556.79, the Cboe UK 250 closed up 0.3% at 17,272.58, and the Cboe Small Companies declined 0.5% to 11,383.55.

In Paris the CAC 40 ended down 0.1%, while the DAX 30 in Frankfurt ended up 0.2%.

CMC Markets analyst David Madden said: "Stocks [ended] mixed as trade tension between the US and China are at the forefront of traders' minds. The G20 meeting begins tomorrow, and on Saturday, Donald Trump will meet with Xi Jinping, and that will be closely watched by traders. There was talk that both sides had agreed a 'truce' in terms of the trade spat on the run up to the meeting.

"The US have concerns in relation to national security about the Chinese tech firm Huawei. It was reported that some Huawei employers worked on Chinese military projects, but the tech group denied there is cooperation with the armed forces. US negotiators are likely to be even more sceptical of China in light of the news."

On the London Stock Exchange, Kingfisher ended the best blue chip performer, up 4.1% after the DIY retailer appointed Carrefour executive Thierry Garnier as its new chief executive to replace outgoing CEO Veronique Laury.

The B&Q chain owner said Garnier spent 20 years in senior roles at Carrefour, the French hypermarket operator. Garnier currently serves as the head of Carrefour Asia, where he is responsible for over 350 stores in China and Taiwan. From 2003 to 2008, Garnier was the managing director of supermarkets for Carrefour France.

Laury - who was appointed as CEO in 2015 - will step down from the board by the end of September, while the effective date of Garnier's appointment will be announced "as soon as it is finalised".

Vodafone closed up 2.3% after Reuters reported late Wednesday that the telecommunication's deal with Liberty Global is set to secure EU antitrust approval after concessions were made.

At the other end of the large cap index, Glencore ended the worst performer, down 4.9% after the miner confirmed at least 19 illegal miners have been killed in two gallery collapses at operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Glencore's announcement comes shortly after Reuters reported a minimum of 36 miners had died in the accident, at the KOV open pit copper mine, owned by Glencore subsidiary Kamoto Copper Co.

Swiss miner and commodity broker Glencore said around 2,000 illegal miners have been intruding on its operations a day in the Kolwezi area, which presents "a significant" risk to its own employees, to equipment, and to the artisanal miners themselves.

Rightmove closed down 4.1% after UBS cut the property portal to Sell from Neutral saying the firm will find it difficult to accelerate average revenue per agent growth and revenue growth will slow as a result.

British American Tobacco and British Land closed down 2.0% and 2.1% respectively, after the stocks went ex-dividend, meaning new buyers no longer qualify for the latest payout.

In the FTSE 250, Serco closed up 5.2% after the outsourcer said it will deliver double-digit profit growth in the first half of its current financial year as it benefits from favourable currency movements and the adoption of the new accounting standard for leases.

At the other end of the midcaps, Senior ended the worst performer, down 10% after Barclays cut the aerospace and defence engineer to Equal Weight from Overweight due to Boeing's issues with the 737 MAX and end-market softness driven by the US-China trade war.

The pound was quoted at USD1.2674 at the London equities close, down from USD1.2682 at close on Wednesday.

On the political front, Conservative Party leadership front runner Boris Johnson moved to seize the initiative in the Tory leadership race, pledging to deliver an Australian-style points-based immigration system if he becomes UK prime minister.

The former foreign secretary said he wanted to rebuild the public's faith in the UK's immigration system and to be "tougher on those who abuse our hospitality".

"We will restore democratic control of immigration policy after we leave the EU," Johnson said.

Meanwhile, Johnson's rival for the Tory crown, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt promised to write off tuition fee debt for young entrepreneurs who start up new businesses and take on staff. He also signalled his support for maintaining free television licences for the over-75s following the controversial decision by the BBC to scrap them.

Analysts at FXPro commented: "Since Monday, the pound remains under pressure due to fears that the next British Prime Minister will be eurosceptic Boris Johnson. The day before, he put forward an ultimatum: if the EU does not agree to revise the current agreement on Brexit, London will refuse to pay EUR50 billion in compensation and leave on a 'hard' basis. The European Union replied that there would be no agreement revision, and that they are ready for the 'hard' scenario.

"Meanwhile, the UK is still without an official representative. Theresa May formally remains in her post as PM but in fact no longer leads the country, with the new prime minister not being announced until July 23. Thus, for a whole month there will be no progress on Brexit issues, which will certainly have a negative effect on the pound."

The euro stood at USD1.1365 at the European equities close, down from USD1.1380 late Wednesday.

Stocks in New York were broadly higher at the London equities close amid optimism over the G20 summit, but a steep drop in Boeing Co weighed on the Dow.

The DJIA was down 0.1%, the S&P 500 index up 0.4% and the Nasdaq Composite up 0.6%.

The aerospace giant Boeing was down 2.4% in New York after the US Federal Aviation Administration said it recently discovered a new potential risk with the best-selling 737 Max aircraft that the company must mitigate before the plane is returned to service.

On the economic front, a report released by the Commerce Department showed the pace of US economic growth in the first quarter was unrevised from the previous estimate.

The Commerce Department said real gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 3.1% in the first quarter, unrevised from the estimate released last month and in line with economist expectations.

The unrevised rate of GDP growth in the first quarter still reflects a significant acceleration from the 2.2% increase seen in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Nancy Curtin, chief investment officer at Close Brothers Asset Management, said: "Investors will be heartened by this confirmation of a strong first quarter but at this point we're waiting with baited breath for the second quarter figures. It's near-unanimous that growth is slowing, but the extent of that slowdown is still to be seen in light of the ongoing trade tensions and the impact of weakness in the global economy.

"It's clear that [Fed Chair] Jay Powell is realistic about the increased risks to the economy and will be pursuing a further accommodation; he has made it clear that the Fed's objective it to 'sustain the expansion'. As we move into the second half of the year, his focus will be on data and how many rate cuts are required to achieve this goal."

Brent oil was quoted at USD66.34 a barrel at the equities close from USD66.60 at the close Wednesday.

Gold was quoted at USD1,405.65 an ounce at the London equities close against USD1,409.34 late Wednesday.

The economic events calendar on Friday has Japan unemployment data at 0030 BST, UK GDP readings at 0930 BST, eurozone inflation figures at 1000 BST and US Personal Consumption Expenditures data at 1330 BST - the core reading is the Federal Reserve's preferred gauge of inflation.

The UK corporate calendar on Friday has half-year results from veterinary healthcare provider Premier Veterinary Group and a trading statement from infrastructure projects operator John Laing Group.

By Arvind Bhunjun; arvindbhunjun@alliancenews.com

London Close is available to subscribers as an email newsletter. Contact info@alliancenews.com

Copyright 2019 Alliance News Limited. All Rights Reserved.

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Securities Mentioned in Article

Security Name Price Change (%) Morningstar
British Land Co PLC 575.20 GBX 0.28 -
Rightmove PLC 589.00 GBX -0.84 -
Senior PLC 181.40 GBX 1.68 -
British American Tobacco PLC 2,927.50 GBX 0.58
Glencore PLC 245.35 GBX -0.06
Kingfisher PLC 216.20 GBX -0.32
Vodafone Group PLC 163.00 GBX 1.70
Serco Group PLC 160.00 GBX 1.07 -

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