(Alliance News) - Stock prices in London opened mixed on Wednesday amid fears of a deterioration in the relationship between the US and China, while the pound rose after UK inflation picked up steam.
US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he has cancelled trade talks with Beijing days after a scheduled review of the initial Phase One trade agreement was postponed.
"I don't want to deal them now. With what they did to this country and the world I don't want to talk to China right now," Trump told reporters while travelling in Arizona. "They should have stopped it. so that's correct - I cancelled talks with China."
In London, the blue-chip FTSE 100 index was down 13.99 points, or 0.3%, at 6,062.63. The mid-cap FTSE 250 index was flat at 17,622.54 and the AIM All-Share index was up 0.1% at 960.83.
The Cboe UK 100 index was down 0.2% at 603.69. The Cboe 250 was down 0.1% at 15,012.68, and the Cboe Small Companies was up 0.1% at 960.53.
In mainland Europe, the CAC 40 index in Paris was down 0.3%, while the DAX 30 in Frankfurt was 0.5% lower.
Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said: "Something that will be playing on investors' minds and contributing to the rather limp open, are the latest developments between the US and China. When the weekend's videoconference trade talks were delayed, reports suggest the reasons behind the postponement were scheduling conflicts, and Beijing needed more time to buy up American exports as per the 'phase one' agreement.
"However, Donald Trump claimed on Tuesday night that he was behind the delay, stating 'With what they did to this country and to the world, I don't want to talk to China right now.' Whether or not this was the actual reason behind the postponement, it's another inflammatory comment from the president, further stoking the fires of conflict given it comes only a day or two after the most recent Huawei restrictions announcement."
On the London Stock Exchange, International Consolidated Airlines Group was the best blue-chip performer, up 3.6% after Heathrow Airport announced the development of a new coronavirus testing facility.
Heathrow hopes airport testing will lead to the end of the mandatory 14-day quarantine for those returning from certain countries and "protect the economy".
Arriving passengers will be able to book swab tests and have results sent to them in seven hours under the proposal, which already is being used in Germany and Iceland.
Associated British Foods was up 3.0% after RBC Capital raised the Primark clothing chain owner to Outperform from Sector Perform.
At the other end of the large-cap index, Rio Tinto was down 0.9%. The Anglo-Australian miner said the restart of its Kennecott mine smelter has been delayed by "unexpected issues" emerging after planned maintenance.
The Kennecott copper mine is located in the US state of Utah. Rio Tinto said it was working with its customers to limit disruptions and expected the smelter to be "fully operational in two months".
However given the delay, 2020 group production guidance for refined copper has been reduced to a range between 135,000 and 175,000 tonnes from 165,000 to 205,000 tonnes previously.
In the FTSE 250, Capita was the best performer, up 6.3%, with the outsourcer rebounding from steep losses incurred on Tuesday. The stock closed down 20% on Tuesday.
Capita on Tuesday swung to a loss and reported a slide in revenue following contract losses in 2019 and damage caused by Covid-19, when it had expected revenue growth.
At the other end of the midcaps, Hochschild Mining was the worst performer, down 5.0%. The gold miner's profit sharply declined in the first half of 2020, as the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in stoppages at all mines between mid-March and late May.
Hochschild posted a USD6.5 million pretax profit for the six months ended June 30, a fraction of the previous year's USD29.5 million profit. Revenue dropped 35% year-on-year to USD232.0 million from USD354.5 million as production shrank 47% to 126,835 gold equivalent ounces from 239,090 gold equivalent ounces.
The pound was quoted at USD1.3244 Wednesday morning, up from USD1.3225 at the London equities close Tuesday.
The UK inflation rate rose in July as the country continued its emergence from coronavirus lockdown measures, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.
The annual UK inflation rate was 1.0% in July, accelerating from 0.6% in June. The figure beat consensus, cited by FXStreet, for an 0.6% rise.
"While inflation appears to be creeping higher after a fall in the early months of lockdown, price rises remain way off the Bank of England's 2.0% target and likely to stay this way for some time even in the face of significant government stimulus. With the UK now in a recession, August's figures may be more telling of long-term inflationary moves and the Bank of England has forecast another dip in the rate," commented Fidelity International's Ed Monk.
The euro was priced at USD1.1939, firm from USD1.1924. Against the yen, the dollar was trading at JPY105.57, up from JPY105.45.
Brent oil was quoted at USD45.12 a barrel Wednesday morning, lower than USD45.34 late Tuesday. Gold was trading at USD1,992.75 an ounce, down from USD2,000.34.
The Japanese Nikkei 225 index ended up 0.3%. In China, the Shanghai Composite closed down 1.2%. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong closed down 0.8%, with trading only in the afternoon after the morning trading session was cancelled due to a strong typhoon in the city.
In the economics calendar Wednesday, at 1000 BST there is a eurozone consumer price index reading and US MBA mortgage applications at 1200 BST. In the evening, minutes from the US Federal Reserve's latest Open Market Committee meeting will be published.
By Arvind Bhunjun; email@example.com
Copyright 2020 Alliance News Limited. All Rights Reserved.