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London stocks gain on week; U.S. jobs data, tensions…

By Sagarika Jaisinghani and Susan Mathew

Aug 7 – London’s FTSE 100 closed flat on Friday as a commodity-linked slump offset gains spurred by some upbeat earnings and AstraZeneca, while an index of more domestically-focused stocks rose as hopes grew of a trade deal with the European Union.

Rising U.S.-China tensions, after Washington moved to ban China’s WeChat and Tiktok applications, weighed on sentiment globally.

Worries over an economic recovery also persisted after U.S. employment data showed slowing job growth and the White House struggled with a fiscal aid package.

“The non-farm payroll report confirmed economic data is plateauing and that the third quarter rebound everyone expected is not happening,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda, New York.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 was flat, but ended the week up 2.3%, buoyed by largely upbeat quarterly earnings and improving local economic data.

Hikma Pharmaceuticals and property website Rightmove topped the index as investors cheered their quarterly earnings updates.

AstraZeneca rose 0.6%. Japan said it will order 120 million doses of the experimental vaccine developed by the drugmaker.

Meanwhile, miners and energy stocks fell as prices of metals and oil slipped.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 rose 0.8%. Britain’s top minister overseeing Brexit talks said on Friday he was confident a free trade deal would be clinched with the European Union as there had been a distinct change of tone from the bloc in recent weeks.

Industrials and consumer discretionary stocks led gains on the FTSE 250. Data on Friday showed more British shoppers returned to the high street in July as lockdowns eased.

London stock markets have tried to climb in August after a rally stalled in July because of a jump in coronavirus infections, but investors remain wary after forecasts the British economy will take longer than expected to return to its pre-pandemic size.

TP ICAP Plc, the world’s largest inter-dealer broker, fell 7.7% as it signalled a tepid start to the second half of the year. (Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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