Top London shares rise as China and US trade tensions cool

Top shares gained ground in London on Thursday as the global mood lightened thanks to apparent progress in US-Chinese relations.

The FTSE 100 closed up 69.61 points, or 0.98%, at 7,184.32.

It was just behind European peers as the German Dax rose 1.18% and the French Cac climbed 1.51%.

David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “Equity markets in Europe are in positive territory heading into the close as US-China trading relations have taken a positive turn. The Chinese ministry for commerce made it clear they are keen to strike a deal, but at the same time they will not be pushed around.

“Beijing admitted that further trade tensions will be harmful to everyone, and foreign firms operating in China won’t come under pressure, but at the same time, the country is willing to flex its financial muscles to inflict pain on the US should it see fit.”

The international-focused FTSE also benefited from a flat day for the pound, as the currency dipped 0.1% to 1.220 US dollars. It was up 0.17% on the euro at 1.104.

While relatively quiet compared to the previous day, analysts said the currency is likely to be volatile amid the row over Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament in mid-September.

Michael Brown, senior analyst at Caxton FX, said: “With the Brexit outlook remaining uncertain, the ongoing parliamentary manoeuvring and political melodrama over the coming fortnight poses significant downside risks to the pound.”

Oil prices recovered from a dip caused by concerns over global economic growth, boosted by lower US inventories.

A barrel of Brent Crude oil was trading 0.65% higher at 60.81 US dollars.

High street newsagent and convenience store business McColl’s blamed Brexit and poor summer weather for a fall in sales, as shares continue to trade at all-time lows.

Shares fell 2.9p to 45.5p.

Recruitment firm Hays saw full-year profits dip as it was weighed down by the cost of restructuring its European operations and declines in business confidence.

Shares declined 1.1p to close at 138p.

Software giant Micro Focus’s shares plunged 504p to 1,051.4p after it warned sales will be lower than previously expected as bosses said the economic uncertainty is slowing business.

The Gym Group hailed surging membership and a rise in premium members, as it saw profits jump in the six months to June.

Its shares jumped 8p to 246.5p.

Guarantor lender Amigo’s shares dropped 75.5p to 70.7p after it warned of a slowdown in lending growth ahead of an expected regulatory crackdown.

Goals Soccer Centres, the five-a-side football pitch operator reeling from a major accounting scandal, has put itself up for sale.

The company’s shares remain suspended due to the investigation into a £12 million VAT accounting fraud.

Consumer goods firm PZ Cussons agreed to offload two of its brands as it embarks on a new strategy to focus on core ranges.

Its shares rose 4.5p to 210p.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Smiths Group up 80p to 1,638.5p, Ocado group up 53.5p to 1,281.5p, Ashtead Group up 90p to 2,223p and Melrose Industries up 6.95p to 177.45p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Micro Focus down 504p to 1,051.4p, NMC Health down 43p to 2,328p, St James’s Place down 16.4p to 914p, and Intercontinental Hotels Group down 40p to 5,052p.

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