August 2, 2018 / 9:01 AM / 2 months ago

FTSE slides to one-month low, Rolls-Royce powers ahead

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s top share index slid on Thursday, touching a one-week low as shares in heavyweight cyclicals dropped, though Rolls-Royce was a standout gainer after its results.

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 blue chip FTSE 100 index ended the session down 1 percent at 7,575.93 points, accelerating losses after the Bank of England raised interest rates as expected.

A weaker pound failed to lift the FTSE as the currency came under pressure after Governor Mark Carney said that policy needed to “walk not run” and expressed concern over Brexit.

“Today’s rise is largely symbolic. It doesn’t change things all that much,” Ben Brettell, senior economist at Hargreaves Lansdown, said.

“A deal on Brexit clouds the issue, and unless the uncertainty is lifted I’d be shocked if rates rose again in the short term.”

Elsewhere results were solidly in focus. Rolls-Royce was the top FTSE gainer, up more than 7 percent after giving a half-year update.

The engine maker said that its 2018 results would come in at the upper half of its guidance range, after its civil aerospace and power systems businesses performed better than expected in the first half.

“Trouble with Trent 1000 series engines that power Boeing’s Dreamliners continued to be a yoke around the engine maker’s neck, but with the cash costs of the resulting engine maintenance issues in-line with previous guidance, traders are happy to look to the future rather than dwell on the past,” said Artjom Hatsaturjants, research analyst at Accendo Markets.

Results also propelled shares in London Stock Exchange higher. The exchange operator was up 3.2 percent after reporting a 21 percent rise in first-half adjusted operating profit to 480 million pounds.

The LSE also said that it was activating contingency plans in case of a no-deal Brexit scenario next year.

Shares in Sage Group rose 3.4 percent after the software company gave trading update for the third quarter.

However, a broader drop across cyclical stocks, or those more sensitive to the economic cycle, weighed on the FTSE. Financials took nearly 24 points off the index while the materials sector account for 19 points as heavyweight miners Rio Tinto, Glencore and BHP Billiton fell between 2.2 percent to 3.6 percent as the underlying price of copper declined. [MET/L]

Likewise a weaker oil price put pressure on oil majors BP and Royal Dutch Shell. [O/R]

Tensions over global trade have soared the mood around risk assets, after the United States aimed to ramp up the pressure on China for trade concessions by proposing a higher tariff plan on Wednesday.

Resources companies also brought up the rear among British mid caps. Shares in Ferrexpo and Kaz Minerals were the biggest fallers, both tumbling 19.8 percent and 28.3 percent respectively.

Kaz Minerals’ shares dropped after the low-cost copper producer said it would expand into Russia with a $900 million copper deal. Ferrexpo slid after the iron ore pellet producer reported a weak set of results for the first half.

Reporting by Kit Rees; Editing by Jon Boyle and Alison Williams

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