U.K. stocks ended lower Tuesday, as investors returned from a long holiday weekend to see worries surrounding the tech sector and a potential trade war were lingering as the second quarter of 2018 got under way. The FTSE 100 index fell 0.4% to end at 7,030.46, led by losses in the utility sector. On Thursday, the index rose 0.2% and wrapped up first
-quarter trading with a slide of 8.2%. The pound on Tuesday traded at $1.4067, up from $1.4045 late Monday in New York. U.K. financial markets were closed Friday and on
Monday in observance of the Good Friday and Easter holidays. U.K. and European equity investors stepped back into the markets after U.S. stocks sold off Monday, led by a fall for the tech sector, which has been under considerable pressure in recent weeks. The FTSE 100 managed to pare its decline as U.S. stocks showed signs of recovery during Tuesday’s session after the tech-focused Nasdaq Composite Index was pushed into negative territory for the year on Monday. Amazon Inc. remains a big focus after U.S. President Donald Trump took aim at the online retail giant. The tech group on the FTSE 100 is small, with just two stocks. Both closed higher, with business software maker Micro Focus gaining 2.5% and enterprise software maker Sage Group PLC rose 0.9%.
Concerns about a trade war remained present as well, after China said it would slap tariffs on about 130 U.S. goods. China had warned it may issue levies in retaliation against the Trump administration’s tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminumimports. Trade-war worries contributed to losses for equity markets world-wide last month. The FTSE 100 closed trading in March down by 2.4%. A reading of U.K. manufacturing activity in March from IHS Markitcame in at 55.1, higher than a FactSet consensus estimate of 54.7. The pound was little changed after the report. Investors have been monitoring how that U.K. economy is holding up as the country moves toward exiting the European Union, or Brexit, with the deadline for departure now less than one year away. The European Central Bank is cautioning U.K. banks with European operations that they should prepare for the possibility that the U.K. and EU won’t strike a deal on terms for Brexit, which would lead to a hard-Brexit scenario without a transition arrangement, according to The Times newspaper. Sky PLC shares rose 2.1% after 21st Century Fox Inc. proposed separating Sky News from the rest of Sky as it seeks to address U.K. regulators’s concerns over Fox’s bid to acquire the 61% of Sky it doesn’t already own. Anglo American PLC shares fell 1.3%, with the miner saying it has suspended operations at its Minas-Rio iron-ore project in Brazil after finding a minor leak in a pipeline. International Consolidated Airlines Group SA fell 0.8% after the company said its British Airways subsidiary has closed two pension schemes and replaced them with a new defined-contribution pension scheme.
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