London open: Stocks fall ahead of Sino-US trade talks, UK data slew
London stocks fell in early trade on Thursday as jitters set in ahead of trade talks between the US and China and a slew of key UK data releases.
At 0850 BST, the FTSE 100 was down 0.5% at 7,134.07, while the pound was up 0.2% against the dollar at 1.2233 and 0.2% lower versus the euro at 1.1105.
Investors were cautious ahead of high-level trade talks between the US and China in Washington later in the day.
Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, said: "At the moment, we may think that a narrow deal or truce is possible as China wants to avoid the hike to 30% from the current 25% on tariffs on $250bn of imports due to take effect Oct 15.
"They could essentially fire up one or two elements of the deal that was being negotiated before the talks broke down earlier this year. Anything much more than that is just wishful thinking."
On home shores, Brexit remained in focus after the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said reaching a deal would be "difficult but possible".
There will be a raft of data releases for market participants to sink their teeth into. Industrial and manufacturing production figures for August are due at 0930 BST, along with the trade balance and gross domestic product for August.
Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said: "After a better than forecast reading for July, August’s monthly GDP reading is set to act as a reminder, if it was needed, that the UK economy is struggling with the uncertainties of pre-Brexit. Analysts are expecting a dreary 0.0% reading, a sharp comedown from the previous 0.3% - let’s just hope it doesn’t turn negative.
"There’s likely little joy to be found in the manufacturing and industrial production figures either. The former is estimated to fall from 0.3% to 0.1% month-on-month, with the latter set to suffer a similar slide from 0.1% to 0.0%."
In equity markets, paper and packaging group Mondi lost ground as it said third-quarter core earnings fell 18% year-on-year as demand remained soft and prices weakened compared with the first half of the year. Peer DS Smith was also weaker.
Hargreaves Lansdown traded lower after saying that new business in the period from 1 July to 30 September was hit by weak investor sentiment on the back of Brexit uncertainty.
Dunelm slumped after the homeware retailer said first-quarter like-for-like sales rose 6.4%, down a touch from 7.7% the previous quarter.
Barratt Developments, Tesco, HSBC and Close Brothers were all in the red as their stock went ex-dividend, while Ferrexpo was hit by a downgrade to 'underweight' at Barclays.
On the upside, miners rallied amid rising copper and iron ore prices, with Antofagasta, Anglo American, Glencore and Rio Tinto all higher. Rio was also boosted by an upgrade to 'buy' at HSBC.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Antofagasta (ANTO) 841.20p 1.72%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,881.00p 1.68%
Evraz (EVR) 412.10p 0.98%
Prudential (PRU) 1,406.00p 0.97%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 2,053.00p 0.93%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 235.70p 0.90%
Glencore (GLEN) 226.80p 0.87%
BT Group (BT.A) 179.48p 0.84%
CRH (CRH) 2,663.00p 0.83%
Aviva (AV.) 377.90p 0.77%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 575.40p -5.58%
Smith (DS) (SMDS) 324.50p -3.82%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,496.00p -3.23%
Smurfit Kappa Group (SKG) 2,369.53p -2.73%
Experian (EXPN) 2,504.00p -1.96%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,783.00p -1.84%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) 7,116.00p -1.82%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 1,271.00p -1.82%
Spirax-Sarco Engineering (SPX) 7,465.00p -1.78%
Tesco (TSCO) 223.30p -1.76%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Watches of Switzerland Group (WOSG) 283.50p 3.85%
CYBG (CYBG) 107.55p 3.02%
Kaz Minerals (KAZ) 400.40p 2.59%
Energean Oil & Gas (ENOG) 915.00p 2.35%
Rathbone Brothers (RAT) 2,165.00p 2.12%
Finablr (FIN) 143.00p 2.00%
Airtel Africa (AAF) 51.85p 1.77%
Vietnam Enterprise Investments (DI) (VEIL) 504.77p 1.26%
Royal Mail (RMG) 200.02p 1.25%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 331.43p 1.23%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Dunelm Group (DNLM) 766.00p -6.01%
Close Brothers Group (CBG) 1,249.70p -3.87%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 423.00p -3.27%
4Imprint Group (FOUR) 2,810.00p -3.10%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 142.50p -2.73%
TBC Bank Group (TBCG) 1,126.00p -2.43%
PureTech Health (PRTC) 226.00p -2.16%
Beazley (BEZ) 603.50p -2.03%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 179.30p -1.97%
Avast (AVST) 362.40p -1.79%