Investors on pause ahead of Trump speech
EUROPEAN markets were muted yesterday as investors paused for clearer details on Donald Trump's economic plans ahead of the US president's first speech to a joint session of Congress.
The FTSE 100 inched higher by 0.1 per cent or 10.44 points to close at 7,263.44 points, while the French Cac 40 and German Dax rose by nearly 0.3 per cent and 0.1 per cent, respectively
"It seemed nothing could get investors to take part in the markets this Tuesday, it being easier to opt out until after Trump's address this evening than try to guess what the president will announce," Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at SpreadEx, said.
Mr Trump was expected to provide some further details on his economic plans, including infrastructure investments, as he addressed both houses of US Congress yesterday evening.
Mr Campbell said yesterday: "Things should be far livelier tomorrow, however. Once investors have heard what Trump has to say in front of Congress they will have a better idea whether the current highs (especially in the US) are justified, or whether the president has blown the markets up with hot air and not much else."
The pound was down nearly 0.2 per cent against the US dollar at 1.242, and was trading 0.4 per cent lower versus the euro at 1.170.
In oil markets, Brent crude prices fell more than 1.2 per cent to US$55.70 per barrel (£44.84) as concerns about rising oil inventories in the US outweighed optimism around Opec supply cuts.
In UK stocks, engineering support and outsourcing firm Babcock International Group topped the FTSE 100, up 63p at 948p, after reporting that it was on track to meet full-year targets thanks in part to new orders including a €500 million contract (£427m) with the French Air Force.
BT Group shares fell 3.7p to 327.1p following news that it could be forced to slash the phone bills of millions of customers with a landline-only contract under proposals being considered by Ofcom.
Engineering firm GKN rose 16.9p to 359.9p following news that annual pre-tax profits on a management basis rose 12 per cent to £678m.
British Land shares rose 7.5p to 617.5p after the company confirmed it is in talks to sell London's so-called 'Cheesegrater' building.
Reports have claimed that CC Land – an investment firm owned by Chinese magnate Cheung Chung Kiu – has placed an offer of around £1.02 billion.
Shares in Taylor Wimpey rose 1.6p to 180p after reporting that annual pre-tax profits rose 22 per cent to £733m in the year to December 31 as housing market activity continues to hold firm following the Brexit vote.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Babcock International Group up 63p to 948p, GKN up 16.9p to 359.9p, Croda International up 163p to 3,508p, Burberry Group 61p 1,726p.
The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were St James's Place down 33p to 1,055p, BHP Billiton down 28p to 1,297.5, Randgold Resources down 120p to 7,510p, and Rio Tinto down 43.5p to 3,297p.