London close: Shares jump on trade progress and 'astonishing' US jobs data
London stocks pared their weekly loss thanks to signs of progress in Sino-US trade relations and the release of data showing US unemployment back again at 50-year lows last month.
At the session close, the FTSE 100 was up 1.43% at 7,239.66, while the pound was down 0.2% against the US dollar at 1.3123 but 0.2% higher versus the euro to 1.1873 amid growing conviction that the next general elections would not return a hung Parliament.
Sentiment got a boost early in the session after China's finance ministry said it will waive import tariffs for some soybean and pork shipments from the US, although it did not specify quantities.
Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at IG, said: "From an optimistic standpoint, the Chinese decision to drop 25% tariffs previously imposed on pork and soybeans highlights a firm shift towards closing the gap needed to drag a phase one deal across the line.
"However, this is also likely to be a move of necessity, with the swine fever epidemic meaning that China has a pronounced undersupply of pork and proteins that need addressing."
And overnight, the US President had signalled that a trade deal was "very close".
Later in the day, the US Department of Labor reported a 266,000 jump in non-farm payrolls for November (consensus: 180,000), leaving some economists "astonished".
Those figures arrived alongside others revealing that US consumer confidence was at a seven-month high at the start of December.
On home shores, the latest survey from mortgage lender Halifax showed that UK house prices saw their biggest monthly rise in November since February.
House prices were up 1.0% on the month following a 0.1% decline in October and beating expectations of a 0.7% fall.
Halifax managing director Russell Galley said: "Prices are now up by £3,904 since the start of the year. While a degree of uncertainty remains evident, it’s also clear that buyers and sellers are responding to factors such as improved mortgage affordability and the limited supply of available properties.
"It is these issues which we believe will continue to underpin the resilience evident in the market for most of 2019. Over the medium term we expect the emerging trend of modest gains to continue into next year."
Hansen Lu, economist at Capital Economics, was more skeptical, telling clients that the rise in annual house price growth appears to be "an outlier".
"House price indices can be volatile, so we’d avoid putting too much weight on just one reading," the economist said.
"Indeed, looking ahead, we expect only a limited pick-up in house price growth over the next few years [...] while an easing in economic and political uncertainty might allow a slight pick-up in house price growth, we expect the magnitude of any rise to be limited."
In equity markets, paper and packaging groups DS Smith and Smurfit Kappa were the biggest risers, bouncing back from losses in the previous session following half-year results from DS Smith.
Miners racked p strong gains amid trade optimism, with Antofagasta, Anglo American and BHP all higher.
Associated British Foods advanced after the Primark owner said it still expects earnings per share growth for FY2020. In a statement ahead of its annual meeting, the company said its sugar division would benefit "materially" from the rise seen last year in EU sugar prices, while the grocery division was expected to see "another year of strong profit and margin growth".
Housebuilder Berkeley Group reversed earlier losses to trade slightly higher even as it said profits in the first half fell by nearly a third.
British Airways and Iberia parent IAG was lifted by an initiation at ‘buy’ at Peel Hunt and an upgrade to ‘outperform’ at MainFirst, while Marks & Spencer was higher after an upgrade to ‘neutral’ at JPMorgan.
On the downside, Glencore was under the cosh again, having suffered heavy losses on Thursday after the Serious Fraud Office said it was launching an investigation into suspected bribery at the miner.
Elsewhere, Petrofac shares finished the session unchanged, recovering from a downgrade to ‘hold’ at Jefferies.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Smith (DS) (SMDS) 370.00p 5.17%
Evraz (EVR) 357.00p 4.57%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 898.60p 3.53%
WPP (WPP) 977.80p 2.93%
Kingfisher (KGF) 212.70p 2.70%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,663.50p 2.65%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 283.50p 2.61%
BHP Group (BHP) 1,703.80p 2.54%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 2,104.00p 2.44%
Anglo American (AAL) 2,068.00p 2.43%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
NMC Health (NMC) 2,530.00p -2.50%
Fresnillo (FRES) 555.40p -1.38%
DCC (DCC) 6,416.00p -0.34%
ITV (ITV) 143.00p -0.21%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 1,220.00p -0.08%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 144.16p 0.08%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 863.00p 0.09%
Croda International (CRDA) 4,902.00p 0.12%
Polymetal International (POLY) 1,195.50p 0.13%
Berkeley Group Holdings (The) (BKG) 4,556.00p 0.15%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 630.00p 5.95%
Virgin Money UK (VMUK) 174.50p 4.93%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 201.40p 4.14%
Unite Group (UTG) 1,234.00p 4.05%
Hammerson (HMSO) 310.00p 3.71%
Paragon Banking Group (PAG) 508.00p 3.50%
Network International Holdings (NETW) 593.00p 3.49%
Sirius Real Estate Ltd. (SRE) 84.80p 3.41%
Plus500 Ltd (DI) (PLUS) 818.00p 3.26%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 141.40p 3.21%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Hill & Smith Holdings (HILS) 1,321.00p -2.22%
Go-Ahead Group (GOG) 2,028.00p -1.75%
Fisher (James) & Sons (FSJ) 1,958.00p -1.71%
Vivo Energy (VVO) 115.80p -1.70%
BMO Commercial Property Trust Limited (BCPT) 113.40p -1.39%
UK Commercial Property Reit Limited (UKCM) 84.00p -1.29%
Genus (GNS) 3,108.00p -1.27%
Syncona Limited NPV (SYNC) 218.00p -1.13%
888 Holdings (888) 157.10p -1.13%
McCarthy & Stone (MCS) 140.00p -1.06%