LONDON MARKET OPEN: US Tariff Move Fails To Lift Mood As China Weakens

Wed, 14th Aug 2019 08:55

(Alliance News) - Despite strong gains in the US overnight and broadly upbeat trade in Asia, London stocks got off to a soggy start on Wednesday, after poor economic readings from China and Germany.Stocks on Tuesday got a boost after the US decided it would go ahead with the latest tranche of tariffs on China next month, but would delay the start for cell phones, laptops, computer monitors, video game consoles and some toys, footwear and clothing.However, ING was sceptical of the move. "The trade war is still on, and the latest delay seems self-serving for the US which can load up for the gift-giving season before tariffs stick up prices early next year," said ING, adding that markets "remain nervous".In addition, London's blue-chip index was weighed down by miners following weak Chinese industrial data.The FTSE 100 was 0.1% lower at 7,247.01, while the FTSE 250 was marginally lower at 19,006.07. The AIM All-Share was flat at 877.25.The Cboe UK 100 index was down 0.1% at 12,281.40. The Cboe UK 250 was down 0.1% at 16,891.40, while the Cboe UK Small Companies was up 0.1% at 10,930.25.In mainland Europe, the CAC 40 in Paris was flat while the DAX 30 in Frankfurt was also little changed.In German data, the economy weakened in the second quarter of the year, as widely expected. Quarter-on-quarter, gross domestic product slipped 0.1%, figures from Destatis showed. This was in line with consensus, as cited by FXStreet, for a 0.1% decline and reverses the 0.4% growth posted for the first three months of the year."Trade conflicts, global uncertainty and the struggling automotive sector have finally brought the German economy down on its knee. In particular, increased uncertainty, rather than direct effects from the trade conflicts, have dented sentiment and hence economic activity," said ING."Who remembers that one year ago, the biggest problem for the German economy was supply-side constraints? Last summer the entire economy was close to overheating; now the lack of demand has become a pressing issue."Still to come in the economic calendar, UK consumer price inflation is at 0930 BST, while eurozone GDP is at 1000 BST.Admiral was the top performer in the FTSE 100 in early trade, up 5.1% after the insurer reported a rise in interim profit despite a headwind from the Ogden rate.Net revenue rose to GBP647.1 million from GBP598.1 million, while pretax profit increased 4% to GBP218.2 million from GBP210.7 million. The insurer declared an interim dividend of 63.0p per share, up 5% year-on-year, comprising a normal dividend of 41.8p and a special dividend of 21.2p."If it's a can't-put-down, read-in-one-go page-turner that you're after, then I'm afraid our half-year results don't fit the bill. Frankly, they are a bit dull. Turnover up mid-single digits, profit up low-single digits. Hardly 'hold the front page'," said Chief Executive David Stevens.He continued: "However, for dedicated aficionados who look behind the headlines, there's some reward for reading on. Profit growth, even if modest, is more exciting considering the GBP33 million Ogden headwind."The Ogden rate helps determine the size of personal injury damage awards.Shares in Prudential were higher, up 0.5%, ahead of the financial services firm's interim results, due at 0930 BST.Towards the bottom of the blue-chip index were miners, with Glencore down 1.3%, Anglo American down 1.2% and Antofagasta 1.2%.China's economy showed further signs of strain in July with output at its factories falling to its lowest level in 17 years, official data showed, while investment and retail sales also slowed.Industrial output increased 4.8% on-year in July, down from 6.3% in June and marking the weakest pace since 2002.Retail sales - which have long been a bright spot for the economy - slowed to a 7.6% rise last month, sharply down from 9.8% in June. Fixed-asset investment was up 5.7% in January-July, slowing from 5.8% in January-June. Spending on highways, high-speed trains and airports rose 3.8%, after years of near 20% increases.In Asia overnight, the Japanese Nikkei 225 index closed up 1.0%. In China, the Shanghai Composite is ended 0.4%, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong is down 0.3%.Back in London, Balfour Beatty rose 11% to top the FTSE 250 as the construction firm bumped up its interim dividend by almost a third.Revenue for the first half rose to GBP3.40 billion from GBP3.22 billion, leading pretax profit to increase to GBP63 million from GBP50 million. The company's order book increased 5% to GBP13.2 billion, with Balfour Beatty saying its focus on "disciplined bidding" building a "higher quality" order book."This is another strong set of results - increasing profits backed by a strong cash performance, plus carefully managed growth in our order book," said Chief Executive Leo Quinn.He continued: "Combined with the strength of our balance sheet and cash flows, this positions Balfour Beatty to create and return future value to shareholders."The FTSE 250 constituent boosted its interim dividend by 31% to 2.1p. Sports Direct International was down 4.0% after saying Grant Thornton has decided not to seek reappointment as the retailer's auditor.Grant Thornton will cease to be Sports Direct's auditor from September 11, the date of the company's annual general meeting. Sports Direct said Grant Thornton made the decision "following a review of its client portfolio".

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