August 3, 2018 / 9:00 AM / 4 months ago

FTSE rises as RBS and Mondi gain

LONDON (Reuters) - The UK’s top share index climbed on Friday as cyclical stocks recovered thanks to a respite from trade and Brexit worries, while results from Mondi and RBS were well-received.

FILE PHOTO: A worker shelters from the rain as he passes the London Stock Exchange in the City of London at lunchtime October 1, 2008. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

The FTSE 100 .FTSE index rose 1.1 percent to 7,659.10 points, though it suffered its first weekly loss in a month.

This week, fresh concerns over global trade marred sentiment after U.S. President Donald Trump ramped up the pressure on China by proposing a higher 25 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports.

“(Trade) is certainly a concern among other concerns around the world. It’s not one a global investor can particularly do much about - we’re already seeing the impact in a number of companies’ earnings,” said James Clarke, portfolio manager at Brandywine Global. Certain industries are hurt more than others, he said, but a lot of those stocks have already been hit.

“Is that an opportunity or not? We’re listening very carefully to this quarter’s conference calls to see what is actually happening in these businesses,” said Clarke.

While the Bank of England raised interest rates as expected on Thursday, it signalled it was in no rush to raise them further before Britain’s exit from the European Union next year, for which there is no clear plan.

However, these broader worries eased briefly as traders instead focused on earnings updates from paper and packaging firm Mondi (MNDI.L) and lender RBS (RBS.L).

Overall, analysts say the earnings season in the UK has been good.

“The distraction of the reporting season has been especially welcome in the UK,” said Ian Williams, strategist at Peel Hunt.

“After a very difficult start to the year, it now looks like consensus forecasts have been pitched at a sufficiently conservative level to allow a few ‘proper’ upgrades to come through, in addition to those that simply reflect foreign exchange movements,” he wrote in a note.

Shares in RBS (RBS.L) jumped 3.1 percent and touched their highest level since the end of June after the bank reported half-year results.

Not only was attributable profit much better than the loss expected by analysts, but the bank announced its first dividend in a decade.

“RBS continues to take small steps, rather than large strides, but even so is demonstrating something of a return to health,” Richard Hunter, head of markets at interactive investor, said in a note.

RBS’ rise helped financials add the most points to the FTSE, while materials stocks also bounced back.

Mondi (MNDI.L) gained 7.9 percent after its results beat expectations.

However, shares in IAG (ICAG.L) were at the bottom of the index, down 2.2 percent after the British Airways owner’s results came in below expectations. Strikes by French air traffic control weighed on IAG’s second quarter operating profit.

Results were also in focus among mid-cap stocks as shares in William Hill (WMH.L) tumbled 8.1 percent.

The betting company posted a half-year loss and warned of more charges as it revamps its retail business due to tougher regulation at home.

Reporting by Kit Rees, editing by Larry King and Kirsten Donovan

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