• FTSE 100 index ends down 18 points

  • Sterling sees modest rally versus US dollar

  • US stocks find early gains

5.10pm: Dull finish for Footsie

The FTSE 100 index ended modestly lower on Monday as a slight rally by sterling outweighed the benefit from an early bounce by US stocks.

At the close, the UK blue chip index was off 18.00 points at 7,408.21, above the session low of 7,402.20 but well below the earlier peak of 7,439.62, as internationally-focused stocks retreated. The more domestically focused FTSE 250 index was down 34.28 points at 19,936.67.

On currency markets, the pound edged 0.1% higher versus the US dollar to 1.2302 and added 0.5% against the euro to 1.1285 as traders await the next twists and turns in the Brexit saga.

On Wall Street, the indexes were boosted by gains from technology stocks, led by Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) as the market recovered from Friday’s drop which had followed reports that Washington was considering delisting Chinese companies from US stock exchanges.

Around London’s close, the Dow Jones Industrials Average was up 144 points, or 0.5% at 26,964, with the broader S&P 500 index and the tech-laden Nasdaq Composite both ahead 0.6%.

Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG, commented: “Wall Street has shrugged off Friday’s China news, making gains on the open as September draws to a close. Looking back at the ‘toughest month of the year’ for equities, it has been very much a win for the bulls.Outside of US small caps, which have slumped over the past week, equities have managed to perform reasonably well.”

He added: “Now only a couple of weeks remain until the strong end-of-year seasonality kicks in, although technically as of tomorrow we will be in the strong eight months of the year for equities, the October-April period being the best historically for equity returns.” 

“Investors have shrugged off a disappointing Chicago PMI, but the gauge of manufacturing is now in a decidedly  rough patch, having been negative for two out of the past four months – for all Trump’s talk of reviving heavy industry, the sector remains the weak link in the US economy, something he will be keen to blame on the Fed’s policies, but in reality both a by-product of trade wars, a slowing global economy and longer-term factors that will be little-moved by the president’s bombast,” Beauchamp concluded.

2.40pm: US bounces aides FTSE 100

With US indices opening higher, London’s leading shares have pared earlier losses.

As a result, the Footsie is back where it has been most of the day, loitering around Friday’s close; the index is currently down 7 points (0.1%) at 7,419.

SSE PLC (LON:SSE) was among those in the fightback, rising 0.9% to 1,255p, after Barclays Capital moved to ‘equal weight’ from ‘underweight’ and cranked up its price target to 1,300p from 1,000p.

Fellow utility Pennon Group PLC (LON:PNN) also benefited from broker comment, this time from Deutsche Bank, with the German bank issuing a ‘buy’ note with an 880p price target. The shares were up 1.2% at 819.8p.

Across the pond, the Dow Jones was up 84 points (0.3%) at 26,904 and the S&P 500 was up 7 points (0.2%) at 2,969.

1.15pm: Sterling’s rally a lead weight for the Footsie

The Footsie has started to lose ground, reflecting sterling’s rally against the US dollar.

London’s index of heavyweight shares was down 23 points (0.3%) at 7,404, just about keeping its head above the 7,400 level.

On foreign exchange markets, the pound was up one-fifth of a cent at US$1.2310.

Among the mid-caps, Ferrexpo Plc (LON:FXPO) edged 0.7% higher to 163.5p after it responded to allegations made on social media that the group’s CEO and majority shareholder, Kostyantin Zhevago, has been served with a notice of suspicion regarding an investigation in Ukraine relating to one of the businesses he owned until 2015.

Zhevago maintains he has not received a notice of suspicion in accordance with Ukrainian law.

Elsewhere among FTSE 250 constituents, potash project developer Sirius Minerals PLC (LON:SXX) rose from the dead to top the mid-cap index with a 30% rise at 3.78p.

11.30am: GDP fails to shake London out of its lethargy

Leading shares remain somnambulant, in the wake of gross domestic product (GDP) data that was in line with expectations.

The FTSE 100 was down 5 points (0.1%) at 7,422.

UK GDP in the second quarter fell by 0.2% from the preceding quarter, confirming the previous, estimated value and in line with the consensus; however, first-quarter growth was revised upwards to 0.6% from 0.5% previously, which resulted to year-on-year growth in the second quarter being revised to 1.3% from 1.2%.

Meanwhile, house purchase mortgage approvals fell to 65,500 in August, the Bank of England reported, from 67,000 in July; the consensus forecast was 66,500.

Net consumer credit rose by £0.9bn in August, matching the average of the previous six months and the consensus forecast.

Howard Archer, the chief economic advisor to the EY ITEM Club, said mortgage activity may have got a recent modest lift from some people looking to complete their house purchases before Brexit occurs at the end of October.

“Markedly improved earnings growth in tandem with recent record-high employment may also be providing some help to housing market activity,” he added.

“However, the fact that mortgage approvals fell back to a five-month low in August suggests that the upside for housing market activity currently remains limited amid major uncertainties.

“Survey evidence supports the view that the upside for housing market activity is currently limited,” Archer added.

Cigarettes maker Imperial Brands PLC (LON:IMB) shook off growing concerns about the health issues of vaping to top the Footsie leader-board with a 2% rise at 1,810p.

US broker Jefferies has initiated coverage of the stock with a punchy 3,800p price target.

10.15am: Blue-chips remain becalmed

London’s index of leading shares remains becalmed, taking its lead from Asian markets, which had a mixed session this morning, despite some decent Chinese data.

The FTSE 100 was up a point (0.0%) at 7,428.

In China, the official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) rose to 49.8 in September, from 49.5 in August – still below the 50.0 cut-off point that marks the divide between contraction and expansion but better than the consensus forecast of 49.6.

The non-manufacturing PMI eased to 53.7 from 53.8 in August and was a tad below the consensus forecast of 53.9.

“The official manufacturing PMI rose to 49.8 in September, from 49.5 in August, above the consensus, 49.6. More positively, the new orders index shifted above 50, and the new export orders index increased, though remained substantially below 50. Worryingly though, the import subindex ticked up by less, to 47.1 in September, from August’s 46.7,” commented Pantheon Macroeconomics.

“The price sub-indices suggest that the PPI [producer prices index] rose m/m [month-on-month], after falling in August, implying a modest deepening of PPI deflation to 0.9% y/y [year-on-year] in September, from 0.8% in August,” the forecasting unit added.

“The Caixin manufacturing PMI jumped to 51.4 in September, from 50.4 in August, above the consensus, 50.2. We hadn’t expected the increase, but it’s possible that the gauge is picking up something that the official version is missing,” Pantheon suggested.

“The Caixin PMI is more weighted towards smaller and private firms. On our reading of the industrial profits data in recent months, private firms appear to be recovering while state-owned enterprises remain in the doldrums. We aren’t convinced, however, that the private sector recovery is sustainable yet; monetary conditions remain too tight,” Pantheon said.

In London, Polymetal International PLC (LON:POLY) dipped 1.6% to 1,129.5p after it issued an updated mineral resource estimate for its Viksha deposit.

Hotels and restaurants operator Whitbread plc (LON:WTB) was the top blue-chip faller, sliding 3.5% to 4,310p after Barclays moved to ‘equal weight’ from ‘overweight’ and sliced its target price to 4,350p from 4,700p.

9.20am: Blue-chips slumber on

Like a lot of us on Monday morning, the London stock market is taking a while to get into its stride.

The FTSE 100 was unchanged at 7,426.

“Markets are focused on US-China relations at the start of the week following a report Friday that the US would consider banning Chinese listings on US markets as part of the trade war,” said Neil Wilson at markets.com.

Drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline PLC (LON:GSK) was the top blue-chip riser, up 1.6% at 1,751.8p, after a couple of drugs trial announcements.

The company has presented new data showing promising anti-tumour activity with GSK3359609, inducible T cell co-stimulatory agonist antibody – an antibody that stimulates or activates an organ; it has also presented data from the PRIMA study, which demonstrated that its ovarian cancer treatment, Zejula, resulted in a 38% reduction in the risk of disease progression or death in the overall study population when compared to the placebo.

Sector peer AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN), down 1.9% at 7,242p, was faring less well after it also made a couple of announcements, including one about Lynparza, the ovarian cancer treatment it is developing with US drugs giant, Merck.

Astra said Lynparza added to bevacizumab reduced the risk of disease progression or death by 41% in the overall trial population.

Astra also announced overall survival results from the Phase III FLAURA trial of Tagrisso in the first-line treatment of adult lung cancer patients. Results showed a statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in overall survival.

8.20am: Subdued start for the Footsie

The FTSE 100 made a subdued start, falling five points to 7,421.66, with Asia’ main markets failing to provide direction.

Dealers appeared to be keeping their powder dry ahead of the restatement of second-quarter GDP, though this is unlikely to hold many surprises, and mortgage lending data, which is set to register a modest month on month decline.

Brexit, the Tory Party conference and President Trump’s flirtation with impeachment could all flare into market sentiment-driving news items.

However, Sino-American trade relations continued to hang anvil-like with the latest reports suggesting the US premier is about to ban American companies from investing in the People’s Republic.

Back in London, Pearson (LON:PSON) led the losers with a 1.8% drop after Friday’s profit warning.

Proactive news headlines

Synairgen PLC (LON:SNG), the respiratory drug discovery and development company, is well-poised to complete the phase II trial on its lead candidate.

Columbus Energy Resources PLC (LON:CERP) told investors that its plan to drill the Saffron prospect has been approved by Trinidad’s Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries.

Arix Bioscience PLC (LON:ARIX) said it co-led a €20mln series-A investment round in a spin-out from Aarhus University, Denmark, that further strengthens its position in oncology.

Oriole Resources PLC (LON:ORR) is expanding its footprint in Cameroon, following early success at the Bibemi and Wapouzé gold projects where it is earning up to a 90% interest.

Alba Mineral Resources plc (LON:ALBA) will be keenly watching the progress at the Horse Hill oil project, onshore southern England, where drilling has now begun for a horizontal well.

Katoro Gold PLC (LON:KAT) has extended the timeframe around the proposed sale of its Imweru gold project in Tanzania to Lake Victoria Goldfields.

Thor Mining PLC (LON:THR)(ASX:THR) has noted the publication of a maiden resource for the Big Sandy lithium deposit in Arizona.

I3 Energy Plc’s (LON:i3E) first-half results highlight ‘an incredibly active period’, according to chief executive, Majid Shafiq.

Rose Petroleum PLC (LON:ROSE) chief executive Colin Harrington told investors he is excited about the next steps in the group’s transformation.

Victoria Oil & Gas PLC’s (LON:VOG) half-yearly numbers revealed a substantial improvement, as expected, thanks to the restart of sales to its key customer, a neighbouring gas-fired power plant.

Echo Energy PLC (LON:ECHO) interim results statement highlights a successful restructuring over what’s described as “a period of change”.

Ariana Resources PLC (LON:AAU) expects to reveal “in due course” its plans for Cyprus, where it has been carrying out due diligence on a potential exploration portfolio.

IOVLabs, the parent company of RSK, in which Coinsilium Group Limited (NEX:COIN) has a stake, has acquired Taringa, the world’s largest Spanish-speaking social network platform.

Immupharma PLC (LON:IMM) remains upbeat there are still commercial avenues open for its lupus treatment Lupuzor.

Advanced Oncotherapy PLC (LON:AVO) has bumped up the size of an open offer by 16% as investors clamoured for shares in the proton beam therapy specialist.

Synthetic fuels firm Quadrise Fuels International PLC (LON:QFI) said its recent open offer received a take-up of 74.8%.

Savannah Resources PLC (LON:SAV) has confirmed that major shareholder Al Marjan has now bought £1.24mln of shares as part of a £5mln fundraising.

CentralNic Group PLC’s (LON:CNIC) senior secured bond of €50mln was admitted to trading on the Oslo Stock Exchange on Friday, with a coupon of three-month EURIBOR plus 7% per year.

MaxCyte Inc (LON:MXCT) said it is taking part in five industry conferences at which it will showcase its CARMA technology.

Faron Pharmaceuticals Oy (LON:FARN) gave a poster presentation at the European Society of Medical Oncology over the weekend, showcasing recent data from its ongoing MATINS study, where good tolerability has so far been seen and “promising” anti-tumour activity.

6.20am: FTSE 100 set to succumb to mild profit-taking 

The FTSE 100 looks set to succumb to some mild profit-taking with the index of blue-chip stocks predicted to open 11 points lower at 7415.21.

Asia provided little guidance following a mixed Monday session.

There was some relief that China’s trade data wasn’t quite as bad as expected; however, trade worries continued to linger.

According to reports, the White House is considering curbs on US investments in China.

“The impeachment chatter that surrounds President Trump is likely to hang around for the foreseeable future,” added David Madden of CMC Markets.

“It was reported that White House staff tried to hide content of the controversial conversation between Mr Trump and the President of Ukraine.

“The Democrats are likely to keep pushing the envelope, which could hang over equity markets.”

Budweiser APAC, the brewer spawned from Anheuser-Busch InBev, had a very solid Hong Kong debut with the shares up 6%, though the stock was priced at the lower end of the forecast range.

Returning to the UK, it looks likely to be a fairly quiet week for corporate news with the updates from retailer Tesco (LON:TSCO), baker Greggs (LON:GRG) and the builders’ merchant Ferguson (LON:FERG) representing the highlights.

Around the markets: Pound worth US$1.2298 (flat); gold US$1,499.60 an ounce, down US$6.90; Brent crude US$61.75 a barrel, off 16 cents.    

Monday’s main corporate news

Finals: Grit Real Estate Inc (LON:GR1T)

Interims: Altitude Group (LON:ALT), Ariana (LON:AAU), Creo Medical (LON:CREO), Etalon (LON:ETLN), Nasstar (LON:NASA)

AGMs: Accsys Technologies (LON:AXS), Hardy Oil (LON:HDY), Renalytix AI PLC (LON:RENX), Panoply Holdings (LON:TPX)

Economic data: UK GDP, German retail sales and CPI

Business Headlines 

Financial Times

  • DUP delivers blow to Johnson plan for Brexit backstop
  • Whistleblower to testify in Trump impeachment probe
  • KPMG staff told to hand back work mobile phones – changes form part of a cost-saving drive for the Big Four firm
  • Hellman & Friedman considers a stake in Euroclear – US buyout group joins private equity interest in linchpin of financial markets

Times

  • Confidence in Britain’s economic prospects has sunk to levels not seen since the EU referendum in 2016
  • Hinkley Point builder accused by France of ‘unacceptable’ failings
  • British ports get set to be in the eye of global storm
  • Mamas & Papas takes baby steps to company sale

Telegraph

  • ‘Helicopter money’ maybe the only weapon to confront the next recession
  • Second investor backs Credit Suisse ahead of spying scandal report
  • Burford Capital furore shines a spotlight on Guernsey’s corporate transparency
  • Ted Baker bosses hit the road to court fund managers

Guardian

  • Ex-top civil servant: Hammond was right to query no-deal backers
  • China moves to stem damage from the trade war with the US ahead of talks
  • Miss Selfridge reports £17.5m loss as store closures continue