August 20, 2018 / 9:19 AM / a month ago

Miners drive FTSE up while weak results sink Mulberry

LONDON (Reuters) - Strong mining stocks helped boost Britain’s FTSE 100 on Monday, leaving last week’s four-month lows behind as optimism over U.S.-China trade talks and Turkey buoyed markets, while luxury handbag maker Mulberry sank after results.

FILE PHOTO: A broker looks at financial information on computer screens on the IG Index trading floor in London, Britain February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson/Files

The FTSE 100 .FTSE ended the session up 0.4 percent, tracking gains across European bourses, as investors awaited developments on U.S.-China trade talks later this month.

Investors were more confident that Europe would remain relatively insulated from an economic crisis in Turkey, even as the lira slid back above 6 to the dollar and the cost of insuring exposure to Turkish debt rose after rating downgrades from Moody’s and S&P Global on Friday.

“Should one extrapolate the recent EM contagion risk? We don’t believe so,” said JP Morgan equity strategist Mislav Matejka. “Turkish impact is small - less than 1 percent of euro exports/GDP ratio and banks’ exposure at 6 percent of capital.”

BHP Billiton (BLT.L), Glencore (GLEN.L), Rio Tinto (RIO.L), Anglo American (AAL.L), and Antofagasta (ANTO.L) climbed 0.2 to 1.3 percent as copper prices rose on hopes of progress in a trade dispute between the U.S. and China.

The stand-out faller across UK markets was Mulberry (MUL.L) whose shares plunged nearly 30 percent after the luxury handbag maker said it would take a 3-million-pound ($3.83 million) hit from the administration of House of Fraser earlier this month.

Mulberry operates 21 concessions in the department stores group.

The company also said that if current UK sales trends continued into the second half, the group’s profit for the whole year would be “materially reduced”.

“House of Fraser is the symptom rather than the cause, but its failure is just making the pressure on these brands tougher,” said Neil Wilson, analyst at markets.com.

Sage (SGE.L) shares fell 7 percent, the worst-performing on the index after Deutsche Bank downgraded the software firm to “sell” from “hold”.

“The competitive situation in Sage’s core mid-market franchise appears to be worsening,” DB analysts said in a note, citing conversations with accountants, resellers, and rival companies.

Among mid-caps, shares in security contractor G4S (GFS.L) fell 3 percent at the open after the government took over the running of a major prison in Birmingham following an inspection which found it was in a state of crisis.

The stock recovered swiftly, though, and ended 1.2 percent lower. The inspection by the Ministry of Justice found that staff locked themselves in offices to avoid prisoners who were using drugs and violence with near impunity.

“While such headlines are unhelpful, they have limited implications for our positive investment thesis,” Stifel analysts said in a note.

Overall British companies’ results have driven sharp share price moves this quarter, and analysts were downgrading their earnings estimates as the results season drew to a close.

(GRAPHIC: FTSE earnings expectations Aug 20 - reut.rs/2vUrI88)

Reporting by Helen Reid and Kit Rees; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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