July 2, 2018 / 9:15 AM / a year ago

FTSE falls as trade tensions simmer

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s index of leading shares began July on a negative note as worries over global trade kept the pressure on banking and mining stocks, though Micro Focus was lifted by news of the sale of one its software businesses.

People walk through the lobby of the London Stock Exchange in London, Britain August 25, 2015. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett/File photo

The blue chip FTSE 100 .FTSE index ended the session down 1.2 percent at 7,547.85 points, slightly underperforming a broadly negative European market which was hit by concerns over global trade and German politics.

Market sentiment remains tense ahead of a July 6 deadline when the U.S. is set to impose $34 billion (25.92 billion pounds)of tariffs on Chinese exports.

On the FTSE, sectors which are most sensitive to the economic cycle, such as banks, miners and oil stocks, took the most points off the index.

Miners Rio Tinto (RIO.L), Glencore (GLEN.L), Anglo American (AAL.L), Antofagasta (ANTO.L) and BHP Billiton BLT.L all fell between 3 percent to 3.5 percent as the price of copper hit a three-month low.

Likewise energy heavyweights BP (BP.L) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) both retreated around 1 percent as the oil price came under pressure.

In the banking sector, shares in HSBC (HSBA.L), Lloyds (LLOY.L) and Barclays (BARC.L) were down 1.2 to 1.9 percent.

“Until Trump actually does strike some sort of deal, most importantly with China, that draws a line under the trade uncertainty for the time being, I think it’s going to be front and centre,” said Jasper Lawler, head of research at London Capital Group, referring to global trade.

“Clearly there are some bargains to be picked up in emerging markets, in some mining stocks ... in the FTSE have been pretty beaten up,” added Lawler.

There were a few risers, however, with Micro Focus (MCRO.L) leading the 10 or so stocks in positive territory. Shares in the software company rose 1.5 percent after it said that it had agreed to sell its Linux operating system SUSE business to a private equity fund for $2.535 billion.

Shares in Micro Focus remain down nearly 47 percent so far in 2018. The firm said that it would use some of the proceeds from the sale to reduce debt and could return some of the rest to shareholders.

While British mid caps were also on the backfoot, Playtech (PTEC.L) was a prominent faller, its shares down more than 26 percent after the gambling technology company said that revenue from Asia would be lower than originally expected.

At the other end of the index, shares in mining conglomerate Vedanta Resources VED.L soared 26.5 percent after the family trust belonging to its chairman agreed to buy the rest of the company, in a deal that values the firm at 2.3 billion pounds ($3 billion).

Reporting by Kit Rees, Editing by Keith Weir, William Maclean

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