London midday: Stocks reverse early gains despite US-China trade war hopes
Stocks in London were trading lower at the end of the week, reversing early gains, even after a top White House official told reporters that a US-China trade deal was "near", assuaging some investors' concerns of a potential 'false dawn' in negotiations.
Oanda analyst Craig Erlam said: "Larry Kudlow is the latest US official to express optimism over a deal, although issues clearly exist around tariffs and Chinese purchases, not to mention when and where any deal will be signed.
"A signing ceremony this year looks difficult at this stage but investors are being swept up by the positive words regardless."
The apparently good news was offset by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's announcement of his intention to nationalise BT Group should his party win the general elections and by rival proposals from Labour and the Conservatives to raise the UK minimum wage, with the latter sparking a call for prudence from the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
Against that backdrop, at noon the Footsie was trading down by 65 points to 7,245.25 and the FTSE 250 by 38.60 points to 20,193.20, while cable was essentially unchanged at 1.2879.
Jeremy Corbyn said he wanted to nationalise BT Group's fixed line network, purportedly so as to give all Britons free access to full-fibre broadband, financed by a tax on technology giants and via a Green Transformation fund.
"Labour plans [...] adding to the long list of firms under threat if Labour is successful in December. With the party planning to provide free fibre optic broadband via taxation of big tech firms, this proposal has a wide reach that would essentially wipe out the whole broadband business in the UK," said IG's Josh Mahony.
"However, with BT shares having recovered much of the early decline, there is a feeling that even if Labour enter government, they will likely be in a coalition that limits such radical spending proposals such as this."
To take note of as well, in a letter sent to the US Federal Communications Commission the day before, US attorney general, William Barr, warned that Chinese telecommunications equipment makers, Huawei and ZTE, were not trustworthy.
For later in the session, the spotlight was expected to be on a spate of economic releases in the US, including readings on industrial production and retail sales for the month of October.
No major economic reports were scheduled for release in the UK.
BT hit by nationalisation threat
Shares of BT Group were near the bottom of the pile following a pledge from Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to nationalise the carrier's fixed-line arm, Openreach. BT chief, Philip Jansen, said that Corbyn's plans - including a pledge to offer full fibre to all households - carried a price tag of roughly £100.0bn.
AstraZeneca announced on Friday that the European Commission has approved ‘Qtrilmet’ - metformin hydrochloride, saxagliptin and dapagliflozin - modified-release tablets to improve glycaemic control in adults with type-2 diabetes. The FTSE 100 pharmaceuticals giant said the approval was based on data from five phase 3 trials, which evaluated combinations of ‘Forxiga’ - dapagliflozin - and Onglyza on a background of metformin in patients with inadequately controlled type-2 diabetes.
PHE Hotel Group on Friday said it was making some changes to its board after a shareholder revolt at May's annual meeting against two board members. The company said deputy chairman Kevin McAuliffe was stepping down from his posts on the audit and remuneration committees as he was "no longer deemed to be an independent director", but would stay on in his main role overseeing corporate governance. It added that Nigel Jones would retire from the board before the 2020 annual general meeting.
Future reported that its full year profits almost tripled, rising by 189% to £12.7m on the back of a 70% leap in revenue. The publisher said the surge in turnover was largely due to the performance of its higher margin media division, which saw its online audience grow by 44%, or 31% in terms of its like-for-like portfolio.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Whitbread (WTB) 4,301.00p 2.80%
Flutter Entertainment (FLTR) 8,268.00p 1.25%
NMC Health (NMC) 2,315.00p 1.09%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 547.60p 1.00%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 1,052.00p 0.96%
Meggitt (MGGT) 628.80p 0.93%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 4,120.00p 0.70%
Glencore (GLEN) 240.70p 0.69%
Kingfisher (KGF) 208.30p 0.68%
Next (NXT) 6,524.00p 0.59%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Berkeley Group Holdings (The) (BKG) 4,445.00p -2.88%
Fresnillo (FRES) 620.80p -2.45%
BT Group (BT.A) 190.98p -2.18%
Hiscox Limited (DI) (HSX) 1,255.00p -2.11%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 689.80p -1.96%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 2,509.00p -1.84%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 156.74p -1.78%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 1,136.50p -1.77%
Centrica (CNA) 72.48p -1.76%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) 6,812.00p -1.76%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Spirent Communications (SPT) 216.50p 4.09%
FirstGroup (FGP) 109.60p 3.98%
Mediclinic International (MDC) 388.00p 2.92%
Future (FUTR) 1,492.00p 2.61%
Law Debenture Corp. (LWDB) 614.00p 2.33%
Watches of Switzerland Group (WOSG) 297.50p 2.06%
Ultra Electronics Holdings (ULE) 2,142.00p 1.90%
Softcat (SCT) 1,170.00p 1.83%
Kainos Group (KNOS) 574.00p 1.77%
Sirius Minerals (SXX) 3.31p 1.66%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Tullow Oil (TLW) 141.55p -3.87%
QinetiQ Group (QQ.) 340.20p -3.24%
Virgin Money UK (VMUK) 137.00p -3.21%
TalkTalk Telecom Group (TALK) 105.20p -3.13%
Greggs (GRG) 1,997.00p -2.96%
Restaurant Group (RTN) 139.40p -2.92%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 489.60p -2.55%
Workspace Group (WKP) 1,074.00p -2.45%
Genus (GNS) 3,028.00p -2.32%
Dechra Pharmaceuticals (DPH) 2,718.00p -2.23%