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Energy stocks underpin Britain's FTSE though miners, Centrica fall
May 8, 2017 / 8:46 AM / 7 months ago

Energy stocks underpin Britain's FTSE though miners, Centrica fall

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* FTSE 100 up 0.1 pct

* Energy stocks rise as oil price firms

* Centrica drops after results

* Miners weak after China data

* Centrist Macron wins French election

By Kit Rees

LONDON, May 8 (Reuters) - Gains among oil and gas stocks helped Britain’s top share index edge higher on Monday, bucking broader weakness among European markets following a widely expected win for centrist Emmanuel Macron in the French presidential election.

The blue chip FTSE 100 index was up 0.1 percent at 7,307.22 points by 0826 GMT.

European equities initially opened higher after Macron defeated far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, though gave up early gains to trade flat to slightly negative.

European markets have seen a relief rally since Macron won the first round of the French election, reducing the risk of a result which would shock markets, with the FTSE 100 also up around 2.5 percent over the past fortnight.

Analysts said that as a Macron victory had largely been expected, it was not surprising that the market reaction to the final result was subdued.

“Markets were pricing in the Macron victory ahead of it actually happening, so when it ... happens you don’t get too much movement, because markets were pretty certain it was going to happen,” Laith Khalaf, senior market analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said.

Gains among British banking stocks and oil and gas firms underpinned the UK market, with Barclays and HSBC up 1.1 percent and 0.6 percent respectively.

The energy sector was supported by gains in the oil price, which rallied on the prospect of an extension to an OPEC-led production cut.

At the single-stock level, utility Centrica, which owns British Gas, was down 0.9 percent after reporting a disappointing set of results for the first quarter.

Centrica blamed warmer weather and weaker energy prices for hitting its profit margins. It also said that it had lost 261,000 customers since the start of the year.

“Reiteration of targets is positive but commodities have been weak, credit ratings remain a risk, and we expect trading to be dominated by UK policy risks until uncertainty over any potential market intervention is clarified,” analysts at UBS said in a note.

A fall among miners was the biggest sectoral weight. Shares in Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Antofagasta and Anglo American all fell between 1 percent to 1.6 percent, taking nearly 7 points off the FTSE 100.

A drop in copper prices weighed on the sector, following disappointing data from China, the world’s biggest consumer of metals, showing that import growth in China slowed faster than expected in April. (Reporting by Kit Rees; Editing by Alison Williams)

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