Belfast Telegraph

FTSE 100 continues to slip amid US-China trade tensions

London’s top flight declined by 4.12p to 7,203.29p.

Donald Trump’s plans for tariffs against China weighed down world markets (Butch Dill/AP)
Donald Trump’s plans for tariffs against China weighed down world markets (Butch Dill/AP)

The US-China trade dispute continued to weigh down on the London markets as the FTSE 100 dropped into the red in afternoon trading.

London’s top flight declined by 4.12p to 7,203.29p after a feelgood start to trading across the European markets quickly wore off.

David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “Equity markets are largely in positive territory, but they are all edging lower, as the feelgood factor in relation to the US-China trade situation is starting to wear off.

“The bounce in Asian markets overnight influenced European dealers, and now that it is dawning on investors that the US-China stand-off is far from over, and things are likely to get worse before they get better.”

Negative sentiment in the US and broadly positive UK economic announcements helped to boost the pound.

Gross domestic product (GDP) growth rose to 0.5% between January and March, in line with forecasts, while the rate of business investment for the period grew ahead of expectations.

Growth over the period was driven by the highest quarterly pick-up in manufacturing since the 1980s as the original Brexit deadline loomed.

The pound was 0.2% up against the dollar at 1.303, and 0.11% down versus the euro at 1.159.

The European markets finished higher, although it was a marked slowdown from the optimistic surge earlier in trading.

The German Dax rose 0.72% and the French CAC rose 0.27%.

In company news, shares jumped at British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG), despite revealing its profits were hit by rocketing fuel costs and foreign exchange headwinds in the first quarter.

The company reported a 60.3% slump in operating profit before exceptional items to 135 million euros (£116.55 million), compared with 340 million euros in the same period last year.

Total revenue increased by 5.9% to 5.3 billion euros (£4.58 billion). Shares rose 9.3p to 498.6p.

Hotel firm Millennium & Copthorne saw shares rise despite pressure on profits in the first quarter, as it was impacted by a programme of refurbishments.

Pre-tax profit slumped 58% to £11 million in the three months to March 31 as the firm counted the cost of revamps in Mayfair and Singapore. Shares were up 4p at 444p.

Elsewhere, shares fell in B&Q owner Kingfisher ahead of its first-quarter results announcement on Wednesday.

The retail group is expected to reveal a bounce back in sales at the DIY chain, with analysts at Jefferies pencilling in a 2.6% rise in like-for-like sales over the period, boosted by a surge in DIY activity over the warmest Easter on record. Shares declined by 1.2p to 243p.

Shares in RBS rose marginally after outgoing boss Ross McEwan revealed the lender is considering two internal candidates to become its next chief executive. Shares in the state-backed bank rose by 0.7p to 232.9p.

Oil recovered as US-China trade tensions continued to simmer. The price of Brent crude oil was up 0.78% at 70.84 US dollars.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Ferguson Group, up 154p at 5,514p, Intertek Group, up 100p at 5,124p, IAG, up 9.3p to 498.6p, and WM Morrison, up 3.7p at 215.4p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Bunzl, down 65p at 2,125p, Imperial Brands, down 63p at 2,164.5p, British Land, down 14p at 570p, and AstraZeneca, down 134p at 5,692p.