London Markets: FTSE 100 ends lower as trade-war fears persist

U.K. large-cap stocks finished down slightly Wednesday, tracking losses in the U.S. that came as trade-war fears helped send industrial shares lower.

But gains for Prudential PLC and mining shares limited the British market’s loss. Miners rose after data showed China’s industrial production grew faster than expected in early 2018.

How markets are moving

The FTSE 100 index UKX, -0.09% dropped 0.1% to close at 7,132.69, adding to Tuesday’s fall of 1.1% and losing ground for a third session in a row.

The pound GBPUSD, +0.1074%  bought $1.3956, down slightly from $1.3962 late Tuesday in New York. Sterling on Tuesday leapt 0.4% against the dollar.

What’s driving markets

Reports late Tuesday said the White House is looking at imposing up to $60 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods, stoking fears about a global trade war.

See: How investors can protect against a trade war — in one sentence

But the FTSE 100 got a boost as mining shares gained after the Chinese industrial data, which signaled that China’s economy expanded faster than expected in the first two months of 2018, as exports rose. China is a major buyer of industrial and precious metals.

Stock movers

Among mining shares, Anglo American PLC AAL, +3.34%  rose 3.3% and Antofagasta PLC  ANTO, +3.46%  picked up 3.5%.

Prudential PLC PRU, +5.07% leapt 5.1% after the financial services company said it will spin off M&G Prudential. Following that move, M&G Prudential will be an independent provider of savings and investment services.

Wm. Morrison Supermarkets MRW, -4.86%  fell 4.9% even as the grocer raised its final dividend to 4.43 pence a share and said fiscal 2018 pretax profit rose.

“Despite Morrison’s making all the right noises, the share price dropped in early trade, with investors opting to book profits after a strong run up into the release,” said Fiona Cincotta, senior market analyst at City Index, in a note.

What strategists are saying

“U.S. markets have turned southward in early trading, dragging down European and U.K. markets from their session highs,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG, in a note.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.68%  was firmly lower about halfway through the U.S. session, led into the red by a sharp fall for aerospace giant Boeing Co. BA, -1.92%  as trade-war fears persisted.

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