Cool-down in global trade tensions spur London markets higher


The London markets closed higher as traders welcomed positive Chinese trade data as tensions with the US continued to cool.

The FTSE 100 closed 87.2 points higher at 7,285.9 points at the end of trading on Thursday.

David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “European stock markets are higher at the close as the fear surrounding the US-China trade dispute has faded a little.

“The fact the Chinese central bank fixed the yuan at a lower rate than expected gave the markets some respite.

“Chinese exports and imports in July both came in better than expected, and that added to the feel-good factor.”

Investors welcomed the news across Europe, with the major markets surging higher as they were also buoyed by a number of significant positive stock announcements.

The German Dax increased by 1.68%, and the French Cac rose by 1.76%.

The Dow Jones opened higher as the mood improved on Wall Street due to the relaxing trade spat and improving unemployment figures.

Sterling started the day positively but slipped in the afternoon as the FTSE rebounded, with currency traders cautious ahead of Friday’s GDP announcement.

The pound was 0.02% down at 1.213 versus the US dollar, and down 0.14% at 1.082 against the euro.

In stocks, shares in Hargreaves Lansdown jumped higher after it said inflows of client funds have “held up well” since the Neil Woodford frozen fund scandal erupted earlier this summer.

The fund supermarket saw net new business inflows fall 4% to £7.3 billion in the year to June 30, which included a month of the Woodford fund suspension.

Shares in the company soared 217p higher to 2,050p on Thursday.

Insurer Aviva saw shares nudge higher after it hailed a “steady” performance against a turbulent backdrop in the first half of the year and signalled a possible sale of its Asian business.

The company said operating profit for the six months to the end of June was up 1% to £1.45 billion, while operating earnings per share ticked up 2% to 27.3p.

Shares in Aviva closed up 6.8p to 388.8p.

Elsewhere, Cineworld slipped into the red after it said it hopes upcoming blockbusters, such as the next Star Wars instalment, will offset falling admissions and profits in a weak start to 2019.

The group said box office admissions dropped 14% to 136 million in the six months to June 30, with pre-tax profits down 13% at 139.7 million US dollars (£114.8 million).

Shares in the company were down 3.4p at 242.6p at the close of trading.

Savills moved lower after the property agent posted falling half-year profits after Brexit uncertainty and political unrest in Hong Kong took their toll.

Shares in the company fell by 22.5p to 925p.

The price of oil edged higher after Saudi Arabia called on other oil producers to try and halt the decline in the energy market.

The price of a barrel of Brent crude oil rose by 0.1% to 57.5 US dollars.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Hargreaves Lansdown, up 217p at 2,050p, Rolls-Royce, up 43.6p at 773.6p, NMC Health, up 95p at 2,095p, and Antofagasta, up 44.6p at 869.6p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were BT Group, down 10.84p at 173.56p, Direct Line, down 8.1p at 298.8p, Standard Life Aberdeen, down 4.6p at 256p, and Barclays, down 1.62p at 145.92p.