June 19, 2018 / 8:54 AM / a month ago

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

LONDON (Reuters) - UK shares fell on Tuesday on a global selloff prompted by fears of a full-blown trade war between the U.S. and China, and disappointing domestic corporate news including a profit warning by Debenhams.

FILE PHOTO: The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, Britain, December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

The FTSE 100 .FTSE ended down 0.4 percent at 7,603 points, while the mid-cap FTSE 250 index .FTMC fell 0.8 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... with another truly troublesome decline”, he added.

Political uncertainty over Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans are also fuelling anxiety among investors as she prepares to confront pro-EU lawmakers in another test of her ability to lead a minority government.

Exposing troubles in the UK retail sector, Debenhams (DEB.L) fell 10 percent after the department store chain warned on profit for the third time in six months, blaming 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 profit warnings seldom come alone,” commented Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com.

Among smaller retail stocks, Footasylum (FOOT.L) dropped 52 percent after the fashion retailer reported full-year revenues below expectations.

Another profit warning, at McCarthy & Stone (MCS.L), sent shares in the UK’s biggest builder of homes for retirees down 17 percent.

Results from equipment rental firm Ashtead (AHT.L) also disappointed investors, sending its shares down 4.4 percent.

Ferguson (FERG.L) rose 1.9 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 (ISA.L) rose 2.9 percent after a report of a possible higher bid from U.S. group EchoStar (SATS.O).

Julien Ponthus; Editing by Keith Weir and John Stonestreet

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