FTSE 100 in the red despite boost from commodity stocks

London’s blue-chip index failed to gather steam on Tuesday, despite a rally in commodity stocks.

The FTSE 100 closed down by 8.78 points, or 0.12%, at 7,268.95.

It dipped despite a boost from stocks such as Rio Tinto, which hit its highest level since the financial crisis, climbing 134p to 4,776p on the back of a rally in Chinese iron ore futures.

BHP Group was also up 34p to 1,834p.

Thanks to the strength in oil and mining, the UK market fared better than its European peers, with the German Dax dropping 0.37% and the French Cac down 0.44% amid rising tensions between the EU and the Italian government.

David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK said: “The Italian government potentially faces a fine of up to three billion euros, as Brussels are not happy with its debt level.

“The administration in Rome are keen to run a budget deficit to try and simulate the economy, but Brussels wants its fiscal rules to be respected.

“The news has put pressure on Italian government bond yields, and the fear has rippled out across the eurozone.”

Meanwhile the pound was steady, inching up 0.04% versus the euro to 1.133 and down 0.15% against the dollar to 1.266.

Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, warned that the currency’s quiet period could be followed by a storm.

“The pound is steady but still under lots of pressure from no-deal fears – expect volatility to move higher again as the Tory party leadership contest races to a denouement,” he said.

In company news, housebuilding giant Bovis Homes confirmed it is no longer in discussions to acquire rival Galliford Try’s housing business, after a deal worth £950 million was rejected last week.

Shares in Bovis finished 2p higher at 996.5p, while Galliford Try was up 19.5p to 558p.

Meanwhile distribution giant Bunzl appointed current Galliford Try chairman Peter Ventress as its next chairman, to replace the outgoing Philip Rogerson.

Bunzl shares were up 13p at 2,103p.

Troubled five-a-side football pitch business Goals Soccer Centres has warned over results for both 2018 and 2019 as an accounting blunder continues to wreak havoc at the firm.

The firm’s shares on London’s junior market remain suspended.

Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct confirmed the £120 million sale of its Derbyshire headquarters in a deal with a Malaysian pension fund.

The retail group has sold the freehold to its Shirebrook logistics centre to Kwasa Logix Sportivo, which is said to be owned by the Malaysian Employees Provident Fund (EPF).

Shares in Sports Direct were 9.2p higher, closing at 290.8p.

On the oil markets, prices were mixed as traders weighed up supply concerns with fears that US-Chinese trade tensions could impact demand.

A barrel of Brent crude oil was trading at 69.82 US dollars, down 0.26%.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were NMC Health up 182p to 2,620p, Rio Tinto up 134p to 4,776p, Tesco up 6.2p to 238.2p and Melrose Industries up 3.95p to 173.1p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were British American Tobacco down 98p to 2,886.5p, Evraz down 19p to 587.6p, Astrazeneca down 151p to 5,938p and Spirax down 220p to 8,650p.

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