FTSE 100 and pound lower as US and China data weighs on global markets

London’s top-flight shares ended the week in the red on Friday, as global sentiment dipped on US jobs data and Chinese trade figures.

The FTSE 100 index was down by 53.24 points, or 0.74%, to 7,104.31.

Its European counterparts also felt the sting of global pessimism on the markets, with the German Dax down 0.53% and the French Cac falling 0.7%.

Trading began on a negative note when overnight Chinese trade figures showed that exports and imports declined by 20.7% and 4.8% respectively. In the afternoon US non-farm payrolls showed only 20,000 jobs were created in February, well below the expected 180,000.

David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said the numbers added to concerns over the state of the global economy.

“The poor numbers added weight to the argument that the global economy is cooling down,” he said. “In London, mining stocks are in the red due to the weak import numbers. China is a major importer of minerals, and dealers are worried China’s demand for metals will wane.”

The economic data also contributed to lower oil prices, with a barrel of Brent crude oil trading down 2.17% at 64.62 US dollars.

On the currency markets, the pound was lower ahead of next week’s “meaningful vote” in Parliament on Brexit. It fell 1.03% against the euro at 1.156 and fell 0.7% versus the dollar to 1.300.

Fiona Cincotta, senior market analyst at City Index, said the pound was “overwhelmed by Brexit uncertainty”.

In London, Mike Ashley’s dramatic campaign to install himself on the board of Debenhams sent the company’s stock rocketing as much as 40%. It closed 0.48p, or 15.64%, higher at 3.534p.

Ladbrokes owner GVC was down 95.5p, almost 14%, to 588.5p after bosses cashed in from a share sale. Chief executive Kenny Alexander and chairman Lee Feldman will pocket £13.7 million and £6 million respectively after offloading nearly three million shares between them.

Shares in five-a-side operator Goals Soccer Centres crashed after the company warned that annual results would be materially below expectations. The group said its board and auditors were working to resolve certain accounting errors for the financial year ending December 31 2018.

The stock was down 18p to 36p at the close.

Building supplies firm SIG swung to a profit last year on lower costs but warned that sales are likely to continue to decline in the first part of this year. Its shares were up by 10.3p to 132.5p.

Non-Standard Finance reported an improved annual performance as it continues its pursuit of rival Provident. The group saw a 47% rise in revenue to £158.8 million in 2018, while pre-tax losses narrowed from £13 million to £1.6 million.

Shares were down 0.4p at 59p.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Admiral up 52p to 2,140p, Fresnillo up 17p to 798.4p, Unilever up 40p to 4,161p and Vodafone up 1.18p to 136.8p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were GVC Holdings down 95.5p to 588.5p, Ashtead Group down 80p to 1,897p, Antofagasta down 38.2p to 923.4p and DS Smith down 12.3p to 337.1p.

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