Britain

FTSE 100 closes higher as Trump tweet lifts mood; optimism over Johnson, Varadkar Brexit meet

  • FTSE 100 closes up nearly 20 points

  • Comments on "possible" Brexit deal boost pound

  • Markets rally following Trump meeting tweet

5.20pm: FTSE closes higher

FTSE 100 index closed in the green on Thursday as sentiment was boosted by positive noises on US, China trade.

The UK's premier share index finished up 19.86 points at 7,186.36.

Talks in a bid to resolve the dispute between the two economic giants kicked off today but the big driver in sentiment appeared to be a tweet from US president Donald Trump that he will meet Liu He, Chinas vice premier, tomorrow.

"The fact Mr Trump will meet with Liu He sends a positive message, which is why we have seen an uptick in sentiment. The gulf between the two sides is wide, but a willingness to sit down and negotiate has injected some hope into the markets," suggested market analyst David Madden, at CMC Markets.

Elsewhere, Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at IG Index, added: "Markets certainly perceive the meeting as an additional opportunity for the deadlock to be broken. Despite US rejection of Chinese plans for a partial deal, rumours that the US could consider a currency pact to stave off impending tariffs at least points to some form of de-escalation."

Meanwhile, the pound rose 1.43% against the US dollar on hopes of a possible Brexit deal after talks between the Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar and Boris Johnson, the UK Premier, about the way forward.

Miners were among the biggest Footsie gainers with copper giant Antofagasta (LON:ANTO) topping the bill, up 4.47% to 864p.

Barratt Developments (LON:BDEV), the property developer, plunged 3.71% to 586.80p, and was the biggest laggard after new data emerged on the falling housing market in the UK, notably in London, where prices have saw shed 1.7% year on year, their worst performance since 2009, according to mortgage lender Halifax.

3.40pm: Sterling rallies as UK and Ireland see path to possible Brexit deal

Hot on the heels of the rally in equities, sterling was also enjoying a late-afternoon boost after prime minister Boris Johnson and Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said in a joint statement that there was a “pathway to a possible [Brexit] deal”.

Heres our joint statement following my meeting with @BorisJohnson in Cheshire this afternoon pic.twitter.com/RxjF9qFte8

— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) October 10, 2019

The two leaders had met for discussions earlier to try and hammer out a compromise to salvage a proposed Brexit deal that has been given a cold reception from Brussels, however, Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay is due to meet the EUs chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, tomorrow for talks.

The joint statement lifted the pound 0.5% to US$1.2269 against the greenback at around 3.20pm.

Meanwhile, the FTSE 100 was up 19 points at 7,185.

3.20pm: FTSE 100 stages late rally as Trump tweets meeting with Chinese VP

The FTSE 100 appears to be staging a last-minute rally at the tail end of the session following a tweet from Donald Trump that he will be meeting Chinese vice-premier Liu He at the White House on Friday, which traders took as a positive sign that a trade deal could be agreed.

Big day of negotiations with China. They want to make a deal, but do I? I meet with the Vice Premier tomorrow at The White House.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 10, 2019

The US presidents tweets are no stranger to moving markets, and this one seemed no different as the FTSE 100 was up around 18 points at 7,185 shortly afterwards, while US markets were also on the rise.

The Dow rose 0.5% on the back of the news with the S&P 500 climbing 0.5% and the Nasdaq up 0.6%.

2.35pm: Wall Street sees flat open as trade talks begin

US markets had a neutral start to Thursdays session as Chinese and American diplomats began the latest round of trade negotiations in Washington DC.

Shortly after the opening bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was flat at around 26,344, while the S&P 500 was up just 0.02% at 2,920 and the Nasdaq ticked up 0.07% to 7,909.

Meanwhile, new data showed that core US inflation slowed to 0.1% in September, down from 0.3% in August and below analyst estimates of 0.2% growth.

General inflation, meanwhile, remained flat, below expectations of a 0.1% rise which may provide more impetus for another interest rate cut from the Federal Reserve.

#US core #CPI down to +0.1 MoM in Sep from previous +0.3% and less than exp +0.2%; CPI 0.0%, less than exp +0.1%, hinting a more dovish stance by the #FederalReserve

Initial Jobless Claims to 210K, less than expected 215K#EURUSD rises to 1.1030@graemewearden pic.twitter.com/SapF6tecQk

— BP PRIME UK (@bpprimeuk) October 10, 2019

“This mornings US data emphasised a couple key trends about the economy; inflation is firmly anchored and not necessarily a problem for the Fed, and the labour market is still showing signs of resilience. The data-dependent Fed can still go ahead with delivering a third consecutive rate cut on October 30th, but will likely remain patient on committing to an easing cycle”, said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA.

“If we dont see a complete collapse in trade talks, the bullish case for US stocks remains in place as the US economy is still likely to see modest growth and the Fed is unlikely to raise rates over the next couple of years as inflation will probably not rise above their target over the next year”, he added.

Separately, the latest weekly jobless claims data showed that less US workers filed for unemployment than previously expected at 210,000, down from 22,000 and less than estimated of 215,000.

The numbers suggest that the US labour market is remaining solid despite signs of a general slowdown in the economy, although the pace of hiring was beginning to cool.

In London, the FTSE 100 was 8 points higher at 7,175.

1.25pm: US markets to head lower amid trade tensions

Wall Street is expected to head lower on Thursday as investors continued to hold their breath ahead of tariff talks between the US and China in Washington DC later today.

“There are clearly many issues that can derail these talks but the concept of a “partial deal” has breathed new life into the idea of a pre-US election agreement”, said Jasper Lawler, head of research at London Capital Group.

"Even if a partial deal can be defined as something as simple as less tariffs and more agricultural purchases, the current situation would be much less antagonistic with better prospects of ending the trade war”, he added.

The prospect of a currency pact between the two nations has already caused some volatility in the forex markets, with some speculating that a specific exchange rate between the yuan and the dollar could strengthen the former and weaken the latter.

Elsewhere on the currency markets, sterling was on the rise once again, up 0.2% at US$1.2229, as Boris Johnson and his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar began further talks to discuss the UKs Brexit proposals.

The talks form a set of last-ditch efforts to secure a Brexit deal before an EU summit next week, however, the chances of securing one are slim and many are expecting Johnson to be compelled to request an extension of the UKs departure date beyond 31 October.

Meanwhile, in London the FTSE 100 was still stuck in neutral by early afternoon, hovering around its starting level of 7,166.

While the index itself wasnt making any moves in either direction, rising copper and iron ore prices were providing a boost to the Blue-chip miners, with Antofagasta PLC (LON:ANTO) up 2.9% to 851p, Anglo American plc (LON:AAL) rising 3.5% to 1,915p and Glencore PLC (LON:GLEN) climbing 2.9% to 231.4p.

11.35am: FTSE 100 seesaws into late-morning; Burberry lifted after bullish Credit Suisse comments

In the last hour of the morning session, the FTSE 100 was seesawing around its starting point, hovering around 7,166 just after 11.30am.

Trade news is continuing to make markets jittery, however, others are taking optimism from the UKs recent mixed bag of GDP data, which while reporting a worse than expected reading for August beat forecasts over the latest three-month period, reducing fears of a recession.

While most eyes are on the latest round of trade talks between the US and China, analysts at UBS are currently looking to impending US tariffs on EU imports as another potential headache for the world economy.

The US is due to impose US$7.5bn in tariffs on EU good from 18 October, however as this accounts for around 0.04% of the EUs GDP, the Swiss bank said the impact would likely be “minimal”, however the prospect of retaliation, particularly in the case of a dispute between aircraft makers Airbus and Boeing, which the World Trade Organisation is due to rule on next year.

There is also the issue of US tariffs on EU car imports, expected in November, which UBS says could result in “downside risks” to its outlook for the eurozone.

On the company front, luxury fashion group Burberry Group plc (LON:BRBY) had posted healthy gains in late-morning, rising 1.8% to 2,071, after Credit Suisse said the firm had “one of the strongest brand momentums” in the sector.

“Burberry now shows the strongest increase in [year-to-date] and 3Q [Instagram] 'likes' among the group of luxury fashion brands with > Eu2bn revenue.” Credit Suisse said, adding that they expected like-for-like sales growth at the firm to accelerate to 5% in its 2020 financial year from 4% in the first quarter of that year.

10.20am: FTSE 100 inches into positive territory as UK set to avoid imminent recession

The FTSE 100 has just about returned to positive territory in mid-morning after the latest set of GDP figures provided relief that the UK is on track to avoid an imminent recession.

While the economy declined 0.1% in August, more than expected, growth of 0.3% in the latest three months, thanks partly to an upward revision of Julys growth figure to 0.4% from 0.3%, meant Septembers reading will need to be very weak to push the UK into recession.

Phil Smeaton, chief investment officer at Sanlam UK, said that while there was a “creeping” likelihood of a recession and that the current weak growth was understandable given Brexit uncertainty, there was “solace” in the fact that investment and GDP were likely to improve after Brexit was delivered.

“At this point even a no deal Brexit will remove the uncertainty preventing business from doing its job and improve the short term economic outlook”, he added.

The stronger than expected 3-month reading also provided some strength for the pound, which was up around 0.2% at US$1.2228 against the dollar.

Meanwhile, at around 10.20am the FTSE 100 had eked out a small gain of 5 points to 7,171.

Key weights on the index in mid-morning were housebuilders, with Barratt Developments PLC (LON:BDEV) slumping 5.5% to 576.2p after new data showed declining sales in the UKs housing market.

A survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors showed the number of homes being put up for sale in the UK fell to its lowest level since 2016, while new buyer enquiries fell after four months of little movement.

“The fact that Brexit is eroding the UK housing sales is no longer news, but as it has been going on for close to three years now and as the current tensions between the Prime Minister and Europe are offering no clear end point to the situation, the damage to property businesses is beginning to assert itself more and more”, said Fiona Cincotta, senior market analyst at Cityindex.

Barratt is also down as it is one of the index's ex-dividend stocks, along with, Centrica PLC (LON:CNA), HSBC Holdings PLC (LON:HSBA) and Tesco PLC (LON:TSCO).

9.35am: UK GDP declines 0.1% in August

The UKs gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by 0.1% month-on-month in August, lower than analyst expectations of flat growth.

However, there was a small silver lining to the data, which also showed the economy grew by 0.3% over the last three months which was better than forecast and could ease fears of a recession.

UK economy contracts by 0.1% in Aug. Bit worse than expected. But July GDP growth revised up from 0.3% to 0.4%. At a glance it looks like the UK might have avoided recession. But much now depends on the final GDP figs for Q3, which we get in early Nov https://t.co/dwZCagVEep

— Ed Conway (@EdConwaySky) October 10, 2019

The news seemed to provide a boost for the FTSE 100, which had regained most of its lost ground and was down 5 points at 7,161 just after 9.30am.

Meanwhile, the reason for the markets sudden swing into negative territory seems to be down to yet more trade tension as a Reuters report revealed that the Chinese Foreign Ministry had criticised US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for accusing the Peoples Republic of human rights violations at a briefing on Thursday.

The spat is unlikely to soothe nerves ahead of trade talks between the two economic giants, which are currently trying to broker some form of deal to avoid additional US tariffs on Chinese imports which are due to come into force next week.

8.45am: FTSE 100 slumps in early trading

The FTSE 100 began Thursday more or less as expected with some small gains, however, the index quickly dropped in the first hour of trading and was down 34 points at 7,132 at around 8.45am.

Miners Antofagasta PLC (LON:ANTO) and Anglo American plc (LON:AAL) were among the top blue-chip risers in early trading, up 1.9% to 842.8p and 2.1% to 1,888.6p respectively on hopes that a trade deal could be secured in the latest round of talks.

Meanwhile, packaging group Mondi PLC (LON:MNDI) was one of the biggest FTSE 100 fallers, down 2.8% at 1,503.5p after a less than impressive trading update.

The latest reading of the UKs gross domestic product (GDP) later today may provide some catalysts for traders, however, analysts are expecting little joy out of the British economy.

“The UK economy is struggling with the uncertainties of pre-Brexit. Analysts are expecting a dreary 0.0% reading, a sharp comedown from the previous 0.3% – lets just hope it doesnt turn negative”, said Connor Campbell, an analyst at Spreadex.

He added that other UK data due out today, such as index of services data, “might not come to mean much” depending on any news that emerges from an impending meeting between Boris Johnson and Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as the two sides attempt to hammer out a compromise on the Irish border ahead of Brexit.

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