London open: Stocks tick up as Sino-US tensions ease
London stocks edged higher on Thursday amid easing Sino-US trade tensions, as investors eyed the latest policy announcement from the European Central Bank.
At 0830 BST, the FTSE 100 was 0.1% higher at 7,347.48, while the pound was up 0.1% against the dollar and the euro at 1.2341 and 1.1202, respectively.
The mood was lifted after Donald Trump agreed to delay a planned increase in tariffs on $250bn of Chinese imports by two weeks. The US President said on Twitter on Wednesday that the delay was "a gesture of good will" and due to the fact that the People's Republic of China will be celebrating its 70th anniversary on 1 October.
The move followed a decision earlier in the day by Beijing to ease tariffs on 16 categories of goods imported from the US.
Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at FXTM, said: "These small concessions, while symbolic, have been welcomed by investors and seen as a positive sign ahead of next month’s talks. However, it’s still too early to go all-in as the end result remains unpredictable given the complexity of the trade war."
"The rally in risk assets may begin to fade in the coming days as investors require concrete solutions, which are unlikely to come anytime soon given the structural differences between the two sides."
As far as the ECB rate announcement is concerned, Sayed said expectations of an interest rate cut and new stimulus package have been very high in recent weeks given the deterioration of economic data in the eurozone.
"Almost all economic data have weakened since the central bank’s last meeting on July 25, and the risk of a recession hitting Germany, the eurozone’s largest economy, has been on the rise after GDP contracted in the second quarter," he said.
On home shores, investors were digesting the latest survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
The net balance of surveyors reporting that house prices have risen over the last three months increased to -4 in August from -9 in July, versus expectations for a reading of -10.
However, the outlook for the next three months was far from rosy, with sales volumes expectations dropping to -23 from -4 and short-term expectations for prices down to -24 from -13.
RICS chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said: "It is hard to get away from the shadow being cast over the housing market by the seemingly never-ending Brexit saga. Indeed uncertainty is a theme that respondents continue to highlight as a negative influence on sentiment in survey after survey."
In equity markets, miners were the top performers, with Glencore, Anglo American, Rio Tinto and BHP all trading up as copper and iron ore prices were back at recent highs.
Morrisons was the standout gainer on the top-flight index as the supermarket retailer reported a fall in second-quarter like-for-like sales but a 5.3% rise in interim profit.
British American Tobacco was in the green after saying it was axing 2,300 management jobs as it looks to simplify its structure and reinvest the savings in developing new products such as vapour, tobacco heating and oral tobacco.
Going the other way Energean Oil & Gas lost ground after the company said it swung to a loss in the first half and cut its full-year production guidance.
InterContinental Hotels was weaker after a downgrade to 'underweight' at JPMorgan, while Lloyds was hit by a downgrade to 'sell' at Goldman Sachs.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 199.95p 3.07%
Glencore (GLEN) 256.90p 1.96%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,914.00p 1.65%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,088.00p 1.48%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 4,349.00p 1.41%
BHP Group (BHP) 1,801.80p 1.40%
Fresnillo (FRES) 739.00p 1.34%
Tesco (TSCO) 237.30p 1.28%
Scottish Mortgage Inv Trust (SMT) 530.27p 1.20%
Evraz (EVR) 529.60p 1.18%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Whitbread (WTB) 4,418.00p -2.77%
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 5,039.00p -2.48%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 51.92p -1.29%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 675.20p -1.06%
Carnival (CCL) 3,769.00p -0.87%
Barclays (BARC) 147.66p -0.70%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 198.50p -0.65%
BP (BP.) 508.80p -0.64%
Compass Group (CPG) 1,997.50p -0.62%
Just Eat (JE.) 709.60p -0.59%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Oxford Instruments (OXIG) 1,302.00p 3.33%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 210.40p 2.63%
Intu Properties (INTU) 46.96p 2.58%
Cranswick (CWK) 2,986.00p 2.47%
Babcock International Group (BAB) 551.00p 2.42%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 203.50p 2.39%
St. Modwen Properties (SMP) 431.50p 2.37%
Bakkavor Group (BAKK) 119.40p 2.05%
Amigo Holdings (AMGO) 74.53p 1.82%
PayPoint (PAY) 922.00p 1.65%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Metro Bank (MTRO) 268.00p -7.39%
CYBG (CYBG) 119.60p -3.59%
Close Brothers Group (CBG) 1,339.00p -2.69%
Restaurant Group (RTN) 137.10p -2.63%
Premier Oil (PMO) 86.12p -2.58%
Hunting (HTG) 478.60p -1.60%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 224.80p -1.58%
Derwent London (DLN) 3,122.00p -1.51%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 422.90p -1.49%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 582.08p -1.48%