January 22, 2019 / 9:38 AM / 3 months ago

Fresh global growth worries drag on FTSE 100; lift-off for easyJet

(Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 posted its worst day in nearly a month on Tuesday as renewed global economic slowdown worries sparked a sell-off across the U.S., Asian and European markets and a stronger pound weighed, while easyJet surged following its results.

Pedestrians leave and enter the London Stock Exchange in London, Britain August 15, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall

The blue-chip bourse .FTSE fell 1 percent and the FTSE 250 .FTMC closed down 0.4 percent.

The session’s downbeat tone was set after China warned that falling factory orders pointed to a further drop in activity in coming months and more job-shedding in the country, a day after reporting its lowest annual economic growth since 1990.

Adding to the gloom, the International Monetary Fund trimmed its global growth forecasts and a survey showed increasing pessimism among business chiefs as trade tensions loomed.

The exporter-heavy index, which makes the lion’s share of its income overseas, was also hit by a stronger sterling after better-than-expected UK employment data.

The jobs data provided a glimmer of hope for the UK economy even as uncertainty over the nation’s divorce from the European Union grows.

“The morning’s 10-year high wage growth reading was the main catalyst for the (sterling) growth, though the ongoing hopes that the UK will avoid a ‘no-deal’ Brexit are presumably playing their part as well,” said Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.

Britain’s opposition Labour Party put forward an amendment to force the government to give parliament time to consider and vote on options to prevent a ‘no deal’ Brexit after Prime Minister Theresa May had set out her plans on Monday.

OIL, MINERS, BANKS LOSE BIG

The generally sour mood weighed on crude and metal prices with oil .FTNMX0530 and miners .FTNMX1770 the worst FTSE 100 performers, down 2.6 and 1.9 percent respectively.

BHP’s (BHPB.L) (BHP.AX) weak outlook for iron ore output pushed its shares down 2 percent.

Shell (RDSa.L) slipped 2.5 percent and was the main drag on the FTSE 100, after Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock to “underweight” and highlighted worries about the oil major’s pledge for share buybacks, dividends and debt reduction.

Banks .FTNMX8350 fell 1 percent as weak results from Switzerland’s UBS (UBSG.S) deepened concerns about the pain across the sector from low interest rates and rising political uncertainty.

However, easyJet (EZJ.L) climbed 6.3 percent, its best day in more than four years, as investors cheered the budget airline maintaining its full-year outlook even after counting the cost of the drone disruption at Gatwick airport in December.

“The drone disruption at Gatwick in December means these results aren’t quite what easyJet was hoping for at the start of the year, but it hasn’t blown things too far off course,” said Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Nicholas Hyett.

Ocado (OCDO.L) rose 3.3 percent while Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L), which is looking to buy Walmart’s (WMT.N) Asda in a 7.3 billion pound deal, added 1.4 percent after Jefferies said Walmart’s exit from the UK would have positive implications for grocers.

Among mid-caps, online trading platform IG Group (IGG.L) slumped 9.5 percent as a regulatory clampdown led to a 17 percent fall in its first-half profit.

Fertiliser maker Sirius Minerals (SXX.L) slipped 7.1 percent after modifying its debt plans, while temporary power provider Aggreko (AGGK.L) shed 5 percent after a Barclays downgrade.

Dixons Carphone (DC.L), which hit near decade lows earlier this month amid worries about the poor state of the UK high street, jumped 3.9 percent on signs that its turnaround plan was progressing.

Pets at Home (PETSP.L) surged 17 percent, its best day on record, on higher quarterly revenue due to a greater demand for its pet products and grooming services.

Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi and Muvija M in Bengaluru; editing by Josephine Mason, Ed Osmond and Toby Davis

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