July 31, 2018 / 8:57 AM / 3 months ago

BP, trade war optimism help FTSE ends July on a high

MILAN/LONDON (Reuters) - Hopes that the United States and China would avert a trade war lifted global stock markets on Tuesday and helped British shares close on a six-week high and post a monthly gain for July.

FILE PHOTO: People walk past the London Stock Exchange Group offices in the City of London, Britain, December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo GLOBAL BUSINESS WEEK AHEAD

The FTSE 100 .FTSE closed up 0.6 percent on the day and up 1.5 percent in July as a Bloomberg report said representatives of U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu were seeking to reengage negotiations.

Better-than-expected quarterly profit growth at oil (BP.L) major BP also helped move the British blue-chip index higher.

BP rose 1.4 percent as higher oil prices and increased output boosted second-quarter profit to $2.8 billion, four times that of a year ago.

The company confirmed it would lift its quarterly dividend for the first time in nearly four years.

“The energy sector was given a lift by strong results from BP, and the prospect of a trade war between the US and China has diminished, and that has boosted the mining sector”, commented David Madden an analyst at CMC Markets.

Shares in diversified miner Fresnillo (FRES.L) rose 4.2 percent after reporting higher revenue for the first half, boosted by higher silver production.

Other miners like Anglo American AA.L or Glencore (GLEN.L) jumped 3.3 and 2.9 percent respectively.

Elsewhere, some results disappointed.

Centrica (CNA.L) fell 2.6 percent to the bottom of the FTSE, amid worries over weaker performance in its consumer business.

The owner of top energy supplier British Gas posted a slight increase in first-half earnings and said it expected to maintain its full year dividend at the current level. The result however missed expectations and analysts highlighted the weaker performance of its Consumer business.

Just Eat (JE.L) was a top faller, down 6.3 percent, as worries over a build up in costs at the British takeaway firm overshadowed an upgrade to full-year revenues.

Locked in an expensive battle with Deliveroo to be the British takeaway platform of choice, Just Eat said it would increase its investment plans to meet strong demand.

Among mid-caps, Provident Financial (PFG.L) shot up 8.6 percent after results that analyst at Peel Hunt said showed the company appeared to be “on the mend”, even though there was more to do, especially at its home credit business.

Provident Financial, which lost 70 percent of its value last year after a botched reorganisation of its home credit business led to two profit warnings, posted a 24 percent drop in first-half adjusted pre-tax profit.

Greggs (GRG.L) also reassured investors by reiterating its full-year profit forecast, sending the shares in the British baker 9.6 percent higher.

Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Jon Boyle, William Maclean

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