FTSE 100 rebounds; rocky trade talks batters index

A worker shelters from the rain as he passes the London Stock Exchange in the City of London, Britain, in this October 1, 2008, file photo. — Reuters pic
A worker shelters from the rain as he passes the London Stock Exchange in the City of London, Britain, in this October 1, 2008, file photo. — Reuters pic

LONDON, Dec 6 — London’s FTSE 100 was propelled higher by banks and miners today as optimism around the Sino-US trade talks rose, but recent often rocky commentary on any deal put the index on course for its worst week in two months.

The main index advanced 0.8 per cent by 0927 GMT with all sectors in the positive territory, after slipping to a two-month low in the last session, while the more domestically-focussed FTSE 250 index rose 0.6 per cent.

US President Donald Trump’s comments that the trade talks were “moving right along” and China’s decision to waive imports tariffs for some soybeans and pork from the United States helped lift sentiment as a torrid week drew to a close.

Investors will be looking closely at the US jobs report, being published later today, for hints on the health of the world’s largest economy at a time when growth has been moderating across the world partly due to trade disputes.

“Though the main focus for the markets at the moment is confusing trade deal situation, with the UK election as a local sideshow for British investors, this afternoon does provide some distraction in the form of the latest nonfarm jobs report,” Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell wrote.

Notable blue-chip performers were miner Antofagasta and luxury brand Burberry, which extended gains on a report of French group Kering’s potential takeover interest in Italy’s Moncler.

Ad firm WPP climbed 2 per cent after it said it would return about US$1.2 billion (RM4.9 billion) to shareholders and Primark-owner Associated British Foods rose 1 per cent after it maintained its earnings target with anticipated progress in its sugar and grocery businesses.

Housebuilders, which have been hit by Brexit jitters due to their domestic exposure, jumped 1.1 per cent after mortgage lender Halifax said house prices rose in November at the fastest annual rate in seven months.

Despite the day’s recovery, the FTSE 100 was set for its steepest weekly fall in two months as Trump’s indication that a trade deal with China could only come following the 2020 election, which knocked nearly 2 per cent off the index on Tuesday.

Sterling’s recent rally on optimism that next week’s general election in Britain will help deliver Brexit has also weighed on the exporter-heavy bourse.

The polls have so far indicated a win for the ruling Conservative Party led by Boris Johnson.

“This time next week the votes will have been counted and we in the UK may finally have an idea on what’s going to happen with Brexit and who’s going to lead it,” OANDA analyst Craig Erlam said. — Reuters

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