FTSE dips as strong pound dampens dollar-earners

February 13
17:06 2018

By Kit Rees

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s top share index came under pressure from a firmer pound on Tuesday following some stronger than expected inflation data, though a rise among mining groups stemmed losses.

The blue chip FTSE 100 (.FTSE) index was down 0.1 percent at 7,169.61 points by 0955 GMT, while mid caps (.FTMC) also slipped 0.1 percent.

Sterling popped higher following the release of UK inflation data, which showed that inflation unexpectedly held close to its highest level in nearly six years in January.

“The big source of fright out there in the market is higher inflation. It’s centered in the U.S., but it’s a global phenomenon,” said Jasper Lawler, head of research at London Capital Group.

“This data coming in at a slightly faster tick than we were expecting just supports that narrative that actually global inflation is on the rise and that interest rates are probably going to have to follow suit,” Lawler added.

Trading was apprehensive as concerns around higher inflation and rising bond yields have been a driver of the recent sell-off across global equity markets.

Last week the FTSE posted its biggest weekly loss since the beginning of 2016, ending the week at a 13-month low.

A firmer pound kept a lid on gains for heavyweight, international earners such as Unilever (ULVR.L), Imperial Brands (IMB.L) and AstraZeneca (AZN.L), which all fell.

Gains for mining firms helped limit losses, however, with firmer metals prices driving gains in Glencore (GLEN.L), Anglo American (AAL.L) and Antofagasta (ANTO.L).

Travel group TUI (TUIT.L) was a notable riser, its shares up more than 5 percent and at a record high after the company said that summer trading was very good.

“What’s really driving the shares to fresh record highs … is likely lower debt and improved underlying profitability,” said Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets.

A positive broker note boosted shares in engineering group Smiths Group (SMIN.L), up around 1 percent.

Analysts at Barclays began their coverage of the stock with an “overweight” rating, saying that they have seen a positive change in cash flow at the business.

(Reporting by Kit Rees; Editing by Keith Weir)

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