Positive trade signals, miners push FTSE 100 higher

The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, December 29, 2017. — Reuters pic
The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, December 29, 2017. — Reuters pic

LONDON, Aug 30 — London’s FTSE 100 rose today, lifted by gains in miners as nickel hit an all-time high, with sentiment supported by signs of a resumption of US-China trade talks.

The main index added 0.3 per cent, putting it on track to post its first weekly gains in five. The mid-cap FTSE 250 gained 0.4 per cent by 0738 GMT.

Heavyweight miners such as Rio Tinto and BHP provided the biggest boost to the blue-chip index as a waste spill at a nickel plant in Papua New Guinea sparked supply fears.

Most other constituent sectors on the FTSE 100 were also higher after Washington and Beijing signalled overnight that they would resume talks to try and end their protracted trade war.

“The more measured tone in deciding to focus on next month’s meeting to discuss removing the extra duties has seen some optimism start to creep back in,” said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

Worries that the trade war would escalate have stoked fears of a global recession in recent weeks and put the FTSE blue-chip index on course for its sharpest monthly fall in four years.

“All-in-all, it emphasises once again that the US-China trade dispute and/or its resolution remains the only game in town for investors globally,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst, Asia Pacific at Oanda.

The sterling remained subdued as lawmakers scrambled to find a solution to the chaotic Brexit process, pushing up exporter stocks such as Diageo and Unilever nearly one per cent.

The more domestically-focussed FTSE 250, which has broken ranks with the local currency in recent months, gained, supported by a six per cent surge in building materials distributor Grafton after its first-half results.

Shares of blue-chip IT group Micro Focus and mid-cap consumer credit provider Amigo Holdings clawed back some losses from the previous session’s steep falls. Micro Focus rose five per cent, while Amigo advanced 6.5 per cent.

Among smaller stocks, footwear retailer Shoe Zone plunged 30.7 per cent to an all-time low after warning annual results would be below expectations.

Premier Foods rose 2.5 per cent after the OXO cube maker appointed a permanent chief executive officer and a new chairman, filling a void left by a string of top management departures earlier this year. — Reuters

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