Europe midday: Iran crisis boost oil majors; shares move ahead
European markets crept into positive territory on Monday as the Gulf crisis provided a boost for oil producers although investors were still keeping a war eye on the European Central Bank meeting later in the week.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index was up 0.16% at 387.7 points. London's FTSE 100 was up 0.4% at 7,534.96, while sterling was 0.3% lower against the dollar and the euro at 1.2470 and 1.1112, respectively, after Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan resigned ahead of Boris Johnson's expected appointment as Prime Minister this week.
Crude oil prices rose after Iran’s seizure of a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. Oil majors BP and Shell both benefited.
The ECB holds a policy meeting on Thursday and investors are watching to see whether it will cut rates or wait until September.
On the downside, Premier Inn owner Whitbread was on the back foot after The Telegraph reported that Manhattan-based specialist high-frequency trading firm Jane Street Global Trading was leading a £1.5bn bet by hedge funds against the company. Also on Monday, Whitbread said it had completed a programme to return £2.5bn to shareholders following the sale of Costa Coffee to Coca-Coca last year.
Elsewhere, British Gas owner Centrica fell following reports over the weekend that it's planning to slash its dividend for the second time in four years.
Shares in health technology company Philips rose as the Dutch firm reported a better-than-expected 6% rise in sales for the second quarter, boosted by strong demand in China and the US.