June 19, 2018 / 8:56 AM / 9 months ago

British shares dip as UK corporate woes add to trade war fears

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* FTSE 100 down 0.8 pct

* Profit warnings at Debenhams, McCarthy & Stone, Footasylum

* Ashtead falls after results

By Julien Ponthus

LONDON, June 19 (Reuters) - UK shares fell on Tuesday as a global sell-off prompted by fears of a full-blown trade war between the U.S. and China took its toll and disappointing news on the corporate front, such as a new profit warning by Debenhams, weighed further on sentiment.

The FTSE 100 was down 0.8 percent by 0830 GMT, at its lowest since the beginning of May but slightly higher than the pan-European STOXX 600 which was down 1.1 percent.

“In the last few weeks investors have been a bit flaky in terms of how much attention they were willing to pay to the trade tensions”, said Connor Campbell, a financial analyst for Spreadex.

“Well, they took them seriously on Tuesday, the markets following Monday’s bloody trading with another truly troublesome decline”, he added.

Political uncertainty over Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans are also fuelling anxiety among investors ahead of a confrontation with pro-EU lawmakers later this week which will test her ability to lead a minority government.

Exposing the troubles of the UK retail sector, British department store Debenhams fell more than 10 percent after it warned on profit for the third time in six months, blaming poor trading on increased competitor discounting and weakness in key markets.

“Given the carnage on the high street, there is a certain inevitability about these updates now, not least because profits warnings seldom come alone,” commented Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com.

Among smaller retail stocks, fashion retailer Footasylum dropped close to 50 percent after reporting its full year revenues below expectations. “Footasylum has disappointed the market with its guidance for FY19, which is a major surprise for a company so recently floated”, Peel Hunt analysts said, cutting their rating from “hold” to “reduce”.

“Yes, external conditions are difficult but they aren’t impossible, and our concerns here are medium and long-term based”, they added.

Another profit warning at McCarthy & Stone triggered a sharp share price fall for the UK’s biggest builder of homes for retirees a 18.8 percent decline.

Results from equipment rental firm Ashtead also disappointed investors and its shares posted were set for their worst day since March 2016, down over 7 percent, the worst performance of both the FTSE 100 and the STOXX 600.

Among the few stocks in the green, Ferguson was the best performer of the FTSE 100, up 1.7 percent after the world’s largest distributor of plumbing and heating products posted a 17.1 percent rise in quarterly profit.

British satellite company Inmarsat also rose 2.3 percent after a report of a possible higher bid from U.S. group EchoStar. (Julien Ponthus Editing by Keith Weir)

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