August 20, 2018 / 9:01 AM / 3 months ago

Miners drive FTSE 100 up while weak results sink Mulberry

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* FTSE 100 up 0.6 pct

* Weak results drive Mulberry shares down 26 pct

* G4S shares fall after govt takes over Birmingham prison

* Sage hit by Deutsche Bank downgrade to “sell”

By Helen Reid

LONDON, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Strong mining stocks helped boost Britain’s FTSE 100 on Monday, leaving last week’s four-month lows behind as optimism over U.S.-China trade talks and Turkey buoyed markets, while luxury handbag maker Mulberry sank after results.

The FTSE 100 was up 0.6 percent by 0823 GMT, tracking gains across European bourses, as investors awaited developments on U.S.-China trade talks later this month.

Investors were more confident that Europe would remain relatively insulated from an economic crisis in Turkey, even as the lira slid back above 6 to the dollar and the cost of insuring exposure to Turkish debt rose after rating downgrades from Moody’s and S&P Global on Friday.

“Should one extrapolate the recent EM contagion risk? We don’t believe so,” said JP Morgan equity strategist Mislav Matejka. “Turkish impact is small - less than 1 percent of euro exports/GDP ratio and banks’ exposure at 6 percent of capital.”

BHP Billiton, Glencore, Rio Tinto, Anglo American, and Antofagasta climbed 1.8 to 3.3 percent as copper prices rose on hopes of progress in a trade dispute between the U.S. and China.

The stand-out faller across UK markets was Mulberry whose shares sank 26 percent after the luxury handbag maker said it would take a 3 million pounds hit from the administration of House of Fraser earlier this month.

Mulberry operates 21 concession in the department stores group.

The company also said if current UK sales trends continue into the second half, the group’s profit for the whole year would be “materially reduced”.

“House of Fraser is the symptom rather than the cause, but its failure is just making the pressure on these brands tougher,” said Neil Wilson, analyst at markets.com.

On a thin day for large-cap results, NMC Health stood out with a 6.8 percent gain after strong first-half earnings.

Investec analysts said the firm’s acquisitions in Sweden, Latvia and the UK would drive the street’s earnings estimates up. “Acquisitions completed after H1 18 are likely to add c. $10-$15 million to group EBITDA this year,” they wrote.

Sage shares fell 6.5 percent, the worst-performing on the index after Deutsche Bank downgraded the software company to “sell” from “hold”.

“The competitive situation in Sage’s core mid market franchise appears to be worsening,” DB analysts said in a note, citing conversations with accountants, resellers, and rival companies.

Among mid-caps, shares in security contractor G4S fell 2.6 percent at the open after the government took over the running of a major prison in Birmingham following an inspection which found it was in a state of crisis.

The stock recovered swiftly, though, to trade down just 0.4 percent by 0830 GMT. The inspection by the Ministry of Justice found staff locked themselves in offices to avoid prisoners who were using drugs and violence with near impunity.

“While such headlines are unhelpful, they have limited implications for our positive investment thesis,” said Stifel analysts.

Also on the FTSE 250, industrial machinery and equipment maker Hill & Smith jumped 4.1 percent after Investec upgraded the stock to a “buy”.

“While the first-half profit miss was disappointing we view it as a bump in the road rather than as a barrier to future growth,” wrote Investec analysts.

Overall British companies’ results have driven sharp share price moves this quarter, and analysts were downgrading their earnings estimates as the results season drew to a close.

Reporting by Helen Reid, Editing by Gareth Jones

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