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12 Sep 2019 | 16:50

London stocks make modest gains as Morrisons rallies and ECB cuts rates and flags more QE

UK stocks barely budged in late trade on Thursday as the European Central Bank cut interest rates in the eurozone and set the scene for more quantitative easing down the line. The macro news largely overshadowed an upbeat day for UK supermarket chain Morrisons, which lined up a special dividend after a strong half year profits performance.

Investors are clearly more concerned about wider economic issues, including signs of easing tensions between the US and China over their trade tariff tiff as Donald Trump said he would delay a planned tariff hike on $250bn of Chinese goods that were set to come into effect on 1 October.

This saw leading miners strengthen, led by Anglo American's 2.5% rally and closely followed by BHP and Antofagasta.

At the close the benchmark FTSE 100 index was trading virtually unchanged, nudging just 5.43 points higher at 7,343.46.

LARGE AND MID CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Supermarket chain Morrisons surged to the top of the FTSE 100 leader board, rallying 4.6% to 202.9p after it boosted its interim dividend and said it would pay a special dividend following a surge in profit in the first half of the year.

British American tobacco nudged up 1.2% £30.79 after the tobacco company said it would lay-off 2,300 workers, cutting over a fifth of senior roles in the company amid efforts to simply the business.

Aerospace and defence company Babcock rose 1.3% 545.2p after the company it had been selected by the UK Ministry of Defence as the preferred bidder to deliver its newest fleet of warships.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Going the other way is auto and environmental engineer Ricardo following full year results that show an under pressure automotive industry. Profits nudged backwards and net debt soared to £47.4m, sending the shares tumbling more than 8% to 644p.

Wealth management group Brooks Macdonald stayed flat at £19.60 despite posting an annual profit that increased by more than fifth as efforts to streamline the business bolstered margins.

Energean Oil and Gas fell 5% to 946p after cutting output guidance as the oil and gas company swung to a loss in the first half of the year after a ramp-up in operations drove up costs offsetting a jump in revenues.

Focusrite rallied 6.4% 530p after the music and audio company said it expected revenue and earnings to top market expectations.

Story provided by StockMarketWire.com
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