July 5, 2018 / 10:02 AM / 3 months ago

Signs of easing in trade dispute lifts Britain's FTSE, AB Foods weighs

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* FTSE 100 up 0.4 percent

* Miners, oil majors rise

* AB Foods trading update disappoints

By Julien Ponthus

LONDON, July 5 (Reuters) - Signs of an easing in the trade dispute between the United States and its main partners helped push Britain’s top share index up on Thursday with gains in basic materials and energy stocks, while shares in AB Foods fell after a trading update.

The blue chip FTSE 100 index was up 0.4 percent at 7,603.36 points by 0940 GMT, underperforming other European bourses.

Shares in automakers in Frankfurt and Italy surged after a German newspaper reported President Donald Trump would suspend threats to impose tariffs on cars imported from the European Union if the bloc lifted duties on U.S. cars.

The optimism on European trading floors contrasted with Asia where Chinese stocks fell and the yuan wavered against the dollar a day before China and the United States were set to hit each other with punitive tariffs.

“Stocks have proceeded in fits and starts this week, mostly thanks to the U.S. holiday, but the absence of a real bounce in Asian markets does lend strength to the bearish case”, said IG analyst Chris Beauchamp, referring to the U.S. July 4 holiday.

In London, a rise in materials stocks added the most points to the British index, with shares in Glencore and Rio Tinto up 3.3 percent and 1.3 percent.

Heavyweights and oil majors Royal Dutch Shell and BP also contributed to keep the index in positive territory, rising 0.9 percent and 0.5 percent respectively.

Shares in Associated British Foods posted the worst individual performance, down 4.6 percent, after it warned lower European Union prices would hit profit in its sugar business.

The owner of Primark stuck to its overall forecast for “progress” in adjusted operating profit and adjusted earnings per share (EPS) for the year to September 2018, saying the sugar weakness would be offset by higher margins at the fashion chain.

“Full-year guidance remains unchanged but traders are clearly taking this with a pinch of sugar”, said Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets.

Among smaller stocks, Superdry jumped 7.8 percent after posting double-digit growth in full-year revenue and declared a special dividend.

Sophos slumped by 18 percent, its biggest ever one-day drop, after reporting lower than expected billings growth. (Reporting by Julien Ponthus Editing by Edmund Blair)

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