London midday: Stocks dip into the red as China data dents miners
London stocks had dipped into the red by midday on Wednesday as miners took a hit from weak Chinese data, although losses were minimal as investors welcomed US President Trump’s seemingly softer stance on trade.
The FTSE 100 was down 0.1% at 7,233.37, while the pound was up 0.1% against the dollar and the euro at 1.2911 and 1.1528, respectively, as it emerged that Prime Minister Theresa May is giving MPs another chance to vote on Brexit in early June, regardless of whether the government and the Labour party manage to strike a deal by then.
A series of Chinese data misses was undermining the mood somewhat.
Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said: “Every key metric coming out of Beijing missed the mark. April’s fixed asset investment arrived at 6.1% against the 6.4% forecast; retail sales fell far faster than expected, at 7.2% against the previous month’s 8.7%; and industrial production limped in at a dismal 5.4%, well off the estimated 6.5%, and an alarming shift from March’s 8.5%.
"This latter figure caused a flurry of worry in the UK mining sector," he said.
Still, overall losses were small as investors welcomed a softened stance from US President Trump on trade relations with China. Speaking to reporters at the White House on Tuesday, Trump said that trade talks with China had not collapsed and that the trade war between the two nations was "a little squabble".
Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, said: "A series of comments and tweets from the President has markets behaving a little more sensibly, but risks still seem skewed to the downside until there is clarity and a ‘deal’. There is obviously still room for the US and China not to raise their tariffs. Mr Trump sought to play down the tariff hikes and talk up the prospect of a deal again.
"The problem right now is that this market is trading on the whimsy of Donald Trump all the time, which makes it a tough place to be."
In equity markets, miners retreated on the back of the China data, with Antofagasta, Anglo American and BHP all weaker.
Travel company Tui reversed earlier gains to trade a touch lower as it reported a widening of its losses for the first half, pointing to a weak demand environment in its markets and airlines segment, but reaffirmed its outlook for FY19. The group’s first-half underlying earnings before interest, tax and amortisation loss widened to €301m from €170m in H1 2018.
DIY chain owner Kingfisher retreated even as it maintained full-year guidance and posted a 0.8% rise in first quarter sales on a like-for-like basis.
Vesuvius was also in the red as it said the slowdown in growth since the fourth quarter of 2018 continued throughout the first quarter of this year.
Paper and packaging group DS Smith was knocked lower by a downgrade from Goodbody, which pointed to weak pricing. Peer Mondi was also on the back foot.
On the upside, Compass Group rallied after it said first-half profit rose more than 5% as the catering company gained new business in North America and added UK defence contracts.
CYBG advanced as it said it swung to a first-half pre-tax profit following the acquisition of Virgin Money.Market Movers
FTSE 100 - Risers
Compass Group (CPG) 1,770.38p 2.42%
Rentokil Initial (RTO) 390.50p 2.01%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 1,289.50p 1.98%
Auto Trader Group (AUTO) 580.40p 1.90%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 2,791.00p 1.86%
Halma (HLMA) 1,764.72p 1.33%
DCC (DCC) 6,808.00p 1.31%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) 5,190.00p 1.01%
Barclays (BARC) 159.22p 1.00%
Centrica (CNA) 95.92p 0.99%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Smith (DS) (SMDS) 324.86p -3.92%
Kingfisher (KGF) 234.50p -3.02%
Evraz (EVR) 563.20p -2.96%
Smurfit Kappa Group (SKG) 2,153.15p -2.17%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 807.60p -2.16%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,640.50p -1.68%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,879.20p -1.62%
Prudential (PRU) 1,593.42p -1.52%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,886.00p -1.44%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 502.20p -1.34%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Metro Bank (MTRO) 575.62p 13.31%
Indivior (INDV) 49.17p 8.66%
Plus500 Ltd (DI) (PLUS) 606.80p 7.17%
Funding Circle Holdings (FCH) 262.50p 5.00%
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (MLC) 458.00p 3.15%
Vivo Energy (VVO) 126.40p 2.76%
Euromoney Institutional Investor (ERM) 1,422.00p 2.30%
Greene King (GNK) 625.00p 2.06%
Marshalls (MSLH) 663.00p 2.00%
Saga (SAGA) 55.40p 1.93%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Vesuvius (VSVS) 528.75p -4.21%
Provident Financial (PFG) 465.10p -3.35%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 169.97p -2.71%
Mediclinic International (MDC) 333.40p -2.31%
Kaz Minerals (KAZ) 552.00p -2.30%
Hunting (HTG) 553.00p -2.21%
William Hill (WMH) 135.25p -2.21%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 439.60p -2.18%
Royal Mail (RMG) 234.70p -2.09%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 89.21p -2.03%