Belfast Telegraph

FTSE 100 languishes behind European peers as trade war fears wane

US President Donald Trump stepped back from threats to hit European car makers with hefty tariffs.

The FTSE 100 has languished behind its European peers after trade progress between the EU and the US lifted stocks in Germany and France.

Markets were buoyed after the US and the EU stepped back from a possible trade war, and agreed to work towards lower tariffs.

US President Donald Trump had threatened to hit European car makers with hefty tariffs, but said a meeting with Jean-Claude Juncker had produced a “very strong understanding” between the two sides.

Germany’s car giants Daimler and Volkswagen were boosted by the news, and the Dax surged 1.88%. The Cac 40 in France was up 0.7%.

Despite a deluge of corporate news, the FTSE 100 index did not follow its European rivals upwards, closing the day just 0.06% or 4.91 points higher at 7,663.17.

Brent crude was flat at 74.352 US dollars a barrel following some volatility on Wednesday.

In currencies, sterling was down 0.31% against the dollar at 1.314, but rose 0.2% against the euro to 1.126.

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell was one of the biggest fallers on the FTSE 100, with shares dropping 81p to 2,576p, when its second quarter earnings came in lower than expected, despite rising 30% to 4.7 billion US dollars (£3.6 billion).

The firm has also launched a hotly-anticipated 25 billion US dollar (£18.9 billion) share buyback programme, which has been promised to investors since Shell bought rival BG Group in a mammoth 54 billion US dollar (£41 billion) deal in 2016.

Pay TV giant Sky reported a rebound in annual earnings, with operating profits coming in at £1.03 billion for the year to June 30, up from £964 million the previous year.

The group thanked hit shows such as Patrick Melrose, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, for its success. Shares closed the day 8p higher at 1,515p.

Intu’s shares slumped 14.95p to 165p after the company swung to a loss and announced the departure of its chief executive.

The shopping centre company made a £503.4 million loss in the six months to June 30, compared to a profit of £122.7 million during the same period of last year.

AstraZeneca has taken a knock on its sales due to the loss of a patent on a key drug, but its shares rose 233p to 5,796p on the back of growing sales from newer medicines.

Total revenues in the half-year were down 1% to 10.3 billion dollars (£7.8 billion), but there was a sales improvement in the second quarter, with sales rising 2% to 5.2 billion dollars (£3.9 billion).

Virgin Money’s shares edged down 2.6p to 385.4p despite it reporting a better-than expected rise in profits.

For the six months ended June 30, underlying pre-tax profit rose 10% to £141.6 million, up from £128.6 million.

Shares in Cobham plunged after it revealed a £40 million hit, and said Boeing is withholding payments amid a spat over the aircraft giant’s US tanker programme.

Shares dropped 10% or 13p to 118.6p when Cobham said Boeing had made “as yet unquantified damages assertions” relating to the programme and is withholding payment of some invoices.

Johnston Press shares soared 74% or 2.63p to 6.18p amid speculation about its future, but the company issued a statement saying it was unaware of a reason for the share price movement.

The company is seeking to refinance its debt but has not yet agreed any deal.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were British American Tobacco up 204p to 4,177p, AstraZeneca up 233p to 5,796p, Croda International up 155p to 5,074p and Smith & Nephew up 40p to 1,361p.

The bigget fallers on the FTSE 100 were SSE down 78.5p to 1,260p, Schroders down 133p to 3,089p, ITV down 6.7p to 165.3p, and Royal Dutch Shell down 81p to 2,576p.

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