LONDON (Reuters) - The UK’s top share index fell on Thursday on renewed concerns over global trade but a strong performance of defensive stocks and a weaker pound helped limit its losses.
The blue chip FTSE 100 index closed down 0.1 percent at 7,615.63 points while the pan-European STOXX 600 fell 0.8 percent.
Though British shares have enjoyed a respite over the past two sessions from the selling pressure, worries over U.S.-China trade and the beginning of a tense EU summit contributed to the subdued mood ahead of the end of the quarter.
“We seem to be hanging on the coattails of everything the White House says,” said Ken Odeluga, market analyst at City Index.
“The international flavor of the shares on the FTSE .... means that it should be very much impacted in the same way that you would expect large U.S. corporates on the S&P 500, the Dow Jones, to be impacted,” Odeluga added, pointing to the fact that the FTSE is on track for a small loss for June.
Stocks in so-called ‘safe-haven’ sectors were in demand, with consumer staples and health stocks rising.
Many of these big, international stocks were also boosted by a fall in sterling, as they earn the bulk of their revenues in dollars. Shares in Diageo and Imperial Brands l rose between 0.9 percent and 2.8 percent respectively.
Pharma firm Shire was among the biggest FTSE gainers, up 3.1 percent at a one-month high after a group which was trying to rally support to block Takeda’s acquisition of Shire failed to get its proposal passed at Takeda’s annual meeting.
Sectors more exposed to the economic cycle, however, such as materials and financials, wiped the most points off the FTSE 100.
Among smaller companies, stocks exposed to the UK consumer were once again on the back foot as shares in pub operator Greene King tanked nine percent following the publication of its full year earnings.
Greene King reported a drop in pretax profit on the back of softer consumer spending, higher costs and bad weather at the start of the year.
Reporting by Kit Rees, Editing by Keith Weir, William Maclean