February 15, 2019 / 9:02 AM / 2 months ago

FTSE 100 rallies as trade talks progress; share sale hits Standard Life

(Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 rose for a fifth straight session and posted its third straight week of gains amid a broader rally in global markets on Friday on news of progress in the Sino-U.S. trade talks.

FILE PHOTO: A man walks through the lobby of the London Stock Exchange August 5, 2011. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett/File Photo

The midcap index meanwhile saw online trading platform Plus500 fall sharply on a report that it may have “misled” investors over losses.

The FTSE 100 added 0.6 percent and the midcaps closed 0.1 percent higher, with investors seeing little change in the Brexit backdrop after Prime Minister Theresa May’s latest defeat in parliament on Thursday.

Consumer and healthcare stocks — often deemed attractive in times of economic uncertainty — contributed to early gains as weak U.S. retail sales data and more downbeat data from China fanned worries about the health of the world economy.

Though initially tentative, the blue-chips strengthened as Washington and Beijing signalled progress in their negotiations, with talks set to resume next week in Washington. The index is on track for its best month since April 2018.

But CMC Markets analyst David Madden said a bounce-back in global equities since late December appeared to be losing steam.

“Some of the ground that has been made up in the last 7-8 weeks could actually be handed back in the near term,” he said.

Royal Bank of Scotland added 2.4 percent after announcing a better-than-expected dividend and reporting a more than doubling of 2018 profit.

Standard Life Aberdeen slumped 6 percent on its worst day in a year after a discounted share offering.

On the FTSE 250, shares in Plus500, which lost nearly one-third of its value this week following a profit warning, tumbled after the Times newspaper reported here that the company may not have informed investors about a $103 million hit from client trading in 2017.

“After poking in a massive profit warning out of the blue, this (the Times report) adds further mistrust about management” a trader said.

Plus500 later confirmed it had made a “drafting error” in its 2017 accounts, but said the error would not impact previously reported revenues, profits or the balance sheet.

The stock fell 12.2 percent to more than a year low and dragged peers IG Group and CMC Markets lower.

Restaurant Group, which slumped in the last session after announcing a CEO departure, added 2.5 percent after a Berenberg rating upgrade, while Domino’s Pizza shed nearly 3 percent after a downgrade by the brokerage.

Premier Foods ended 1.2 percent lower, having skidded as much as 6.3 percent after dropping plans to sell its dessert brand, Ambrosia.

Reporting by Muvija M and Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Helen Reid in London; Editing by Catherine Evans, William Maclean

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