US-China tensions dampen trading
UTILITIES and financials weighed on the FTSE 100 on a quiet trading day as concerns over US-China tensions pressed down on global markets.
Energy firm was the worst performer on the blue-chip index, closing down 90p, or 6pc, at £13.38, after the stock went ex-dividend. This means new buyers no longer qualify for the latest payout.
Centrica, which was demoted from the FTSE 100 last month, also slumped nearly 4pc ahead of its interim results today, closing down 1.5p at 40.4p, while water company Pennon dropped 41p to £10.54.
Software maker Sage advanced 46.6p to 753.6p and miner Polymetal International rose 104.5p to £18.12, ranking among the best-performing blue-chip stocks after they both posted strong earnings.
Robust results from Unilever also pushed rival multinational consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser firmly into the green, up 138p at £79.60.
Trading sentiment was subdued throughout the session, but many markets handed back their small gains in the afternoon due to concerns about US-China tensions and mixed jobs data from the US. London’s top flight index closed 4.34 points higher at 6,211.4. The mid-cap FTSE 250 edged up 0.1pc to 17,489.5, boosted by security contractor G4S after it posted a higher-than-expected first-half operating profit.
A raft of global stimulus measures and hopes of a Covid-19 vaccine have put UK stock indexes on track for their fourth straight month of gains, but analysts remain wary of geopolitical tensions and increased coronavirus cases. Across the Atlantic, the Dow Jones and S&P 500 both fell as new US jobs data missed expectations, with jobless claims increasing from 1.3 million to 1.41 million.
The figures rekindled concerns that the country’s economic recovery has stalled as the spread of the virus across the country worsens.
The S&P 500 slipped from a four-month high, as losses in technology and consumer shares weighed on the index.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 also retreated into the red for the week, erasing Monday’s rally that was the biggest since April.
Google’s parent Alphabet, Amazon and Apple each lost more than 2pc, while Twitter jumped more than 4pc after daily user growth surged.
Meanwhile, the pound fell 0.3pc against the euro to €1.097 after UK and EU negotiators said they are unlikely to reach an agreement on a post-Brexit trade deal before July.
David Frost, the UK’s chief negotiator, said “considerable gaps remain in the most difficult areas” after the latest round of talks concluded in London.
Sterling has struggled this week on signs that talks between the two sides have hit a roadblock.