Markets calmed as Trump offers hope of a trade deal with China

Sterling slips on concerns that the next UK prime minister may push for hard Brexit

London’s top share index rose on Thursday as the pound slipped on concerns that outgoing prime minister Theresa May’s successor might push for a hard Brexit, helping more internationally focused stocks gain.

European stocks also rose on Thursday while US stocks were ahead for the first time this week, as US president Donald Trump said trade talks with China were going well, offering a glimmer of hope to markets roiled by trade worries.


AIB and Bank of Ireland both shrugged off news that the Central Bank imposed a record €21 million fine on Permanent TSB over the tracker mortgage overcharging scandal. AIB and BOI are also expected to face regulator action, but it appears to be already baked into the share price as both finished the trading session virtually unmoved. AIB was at €3.74, up less than 0.2 per cent, while BofI fell just over 0.1 per cent to €4.77.

Globally focused Iseq heavyweights such as Kingspan, up 3.3 per cent to €45.76, and Smurfit Kappa, up 1.4 per cent to €24.90, performed strongly.


Bulmers cider owner C&C rose 4.8 per cent to €3.80, the best of the Irish consumers stocks.


Internationally exposed stocks such as Diageo, Unilever and British American Tobacco were among the biggest boosts to the main index as mounting political worries sent sterling lower.

The FTSE 100, whose components earn a large chunk of their revenue from outside the UK, rose 0.5 per cent. The mid-cap FTSE 250 advanced 0.9 per cent, bouncing back after steep losses in the previous session.

Daily Mail and General Trust was a gainer among media firms, rising 9.6 per cent as first-half adjusted pre-tax profit rose more than expected. It also reaffirmed its full-year forecasts.

Among blue-chip fallers was Johnson Matthey which shed 4.3 per cent after the chemicals group's annual profit missed consensus estimates.

Energy utility National Grid and retailer Marks & Spencer slid more than 4.5 per cent each as both stocks traded ex-dividend.

FirstGroup, under pressure from a shareholder to make strategic changes, gained 3.6 per cent as it put its US coach service Greyhound up for sale.


Germany's DAX rose 0.5 per cent, while Axel Springer jumped 22.2 per cent on its best day since listing. The publisher's main owners are in talks with private equity firm KKR to possibly take the company private.

Tariff-sensitive stocks of auto-makers and their suppliers fell 0.3 per cent. A senior Chinese diplomat ramped up the rhetoric against the United States, saying provoking trade disputes is “naked economic terrorism”.

Spanish stocks rose 0.9 per cent, with Cellnex Telecom leading the index with a 4.8 per cent gain after Goldman Sachs boosted its rating on the stock and added it to its conviction list. The chief executive of Europe's biggest phone towers group said it expects more deals to take shape in 2019-2020 after its $3-billion splurge on assets owned by French tycoon and Eir owner Xavier Niel.


Interest-rate sensitive bank stocks fell 0.54 per cent, while the broader financial sector declined 0.24 per cent. Technology stocks, among the worst-performing S&P sectors this month, rose 0.38 per cent and boosted markets.

The sector was helped by a 9.6 per cent jump in Keysight Technologies after the electronic measurement equipment maker reported better-than-expected quarterly results and announced a $500 million share buyback plan.

Apple, Microsoft and Intel also rose and offered support.

Dollar General Corp jumped 6.8 per cent after the discount retailer's same-store sales and profit topped expectations. Viacom climbed 4.8 per cent after report that CBS is preparing for merger talks with the media company. CBS rose 2.7 per cent.

PVH tumbled 14.3 per cent, the most among S&P companies, after the Calvin Klein owner cut its annual profit forecast as it grapples with tariffs and slowing retail growth.

Additional reporting: Reuters

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is London Correspondent for The Irish Times