LONDON (Reuters) - The UK’s top share index retreated on Monday as a stronger pound weighed while soft China data hit miners amid persistent worries over global trade.
The FTSE underperformed a slightly positive European market thanks to its high weighting in miners, energy companies and banks, which all fell.
Mining stocks tend to be sensitive to the underlying price of copper, which retreated following the release of data from China showing that the world’s biggest consumer of metals saw its economy expand at a slower pace in the second quarter. [MET/L] [nL4N1U62W8]
“The concern is that any protracted threats of a trade war or indeed a trade war itself could put those figures at risk further,” said Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets.
“We’re getting used to a Chinese economy growing more slowly because it can’t continue to growth at double digits forever. It’s not a really aggressive start to the week to the downside. There may have been an element of profit-taking into the weekend anyway,” van Dulken added.
Uncertainty over global trade has held back equity markets from making progress over the summer, and investors are now watching to see what China’s response will be to the United States’ threat to impose tariffs on more than $500 billion worth of Chinese goods.
Among individual movers, shares in Hargreaves Lansdown (HRGV.L) were among the biggest fallers, down 3.8 percent after Britain’s markets watchdog proposed measure in the funds platform sector. [nL8N1UC0RO]
Likewise a move higher in the pound ahead of a UK parliament debate on Brexit knocked back shares in big, international dollar-earners like British American Tobacco (BATS.L), Diageo (DGE.L) and Unilever (ULVR.L).
Micro Focus (MCRO.L) was the biggest faller, down 4.5 percent after Credit Suisse cut its rating on the software company to “underperform” from “neutral”. [nL3N1RU375]
“Management delivered a poor interim results update, offering limited comfort on the medium-term future,” Credit Suisse’s analysts said in a note.
“We think this creates a difficult equity story,” Credit Suisse added, saying that they increasingly wonder whether Micro Focus is better suited to a private equity environment.
There were some big moves among smaller stocks. Shares in Indivior (INDV.L) jumped 27 percent after a U.S. court blocked India’s Dr.Reddy’s Laboratories (REDY.NS) from selling copycat versions of the British drugmaker’s bestselling opioid addiction treatment in the United States. [nL4N1UC2GX]
Reporting by Kit Rees; Editing by Keith Weir