US Markets

FTSE slips on ex-div trading, U.S.-China trade doubts

Credit: REUTERS/TOBY MELVILLE

London's FTSE 100 retreated from a near four-month high on Thursday, weighed down by a handful of stocks trading ex-dividend, subdued U.S.-China trade deal hopes and a firmer pound.

By Shashwat Awasthi

Nov 28 (Reuters) - London's FTSE 100 retreated from a near four-month high on Thursday, weighed down by a handful of stocks trading ex-dividend, subdued U.S.-China trade deal hopes and a firmer pound.

The blue-chip index .FTSE fell 0.4% by 0841 GMT with Vodafone VOD.L and chemicals firm Johnson Mathey JMAT.L shedding over 3% each, as they traded without entitlement to a dividend pay-out.

The FTSE 250 .FTMC once again climbed to a near 1-1/2 year high, rising 0.1%. Virgin Money UK VMUK.L soared 20% after provision for claims related to the PPI mis-selling scandal were in line with its estimates.

Shares of the Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank owner were on track for their best day on record. Though traders were initially sceptical of its decision to suspend dividend, one of them later said it may have been the "right step to take".

Trading volumes on both indexes were thin with U.S. markets shut for Thanksgiving.

The FTSE 100 underperformed the European benchmark .STOXX, as firms that book a major chunk of earnings in U.S. dollars, including BAT BATS.L and AstraZeneca AZN.L, weighed.

Sterling has been buoyed by polls that predict a Conservative Party victory in the upcoming British general election. A YouGov poll showed Prime Minister Boris Johnson on course to secure a majority.

"The reason this poll, amongst all the others, carries so much weight, is that it correctly predicted the hung parliament of the last election," OANDA analyst Jeffrey Halley said.

"Markets do like certainty, and the YouGov poll, if accurate, gives precisely that on Brexit."

Markets see a prospective victory for the Conservatives as the most likely scenario for Brexit to be delivered by the Jan. 31 deadline.

Asia-focussed HSBC HSBA.L and blue-chip miners .FTNMX1770 also fell, after tensions between the United States and China over the Hong Kong protests threatened to derail hopes of progress in their trade talks.

U.S. President Donald Trump approved legislation backing pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, drawing condemnation from Beijing and raising doubts over whether this would hamper the countries' attempt to settle their protracted trade dispute.

Other losers on the FTSE 100 included equipment rental firm Ashtead AHT.L which gave up 2.6% after a downgrade by HSBC, while utilities Severn Trent SVT.L and National Grid NG.L slid nearly 2% each on ex-dividend trading.

Transport company Go-Ahead Group GOG.L lagged the mid-caps as it skidded 3% after mounting costs forced it to lower annual expectations for its regional bus division.

(Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi and Safia Infant in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Thyagaraju Adinarayan in London; Editing by Uttaresh.V and Shounak Dasgupta)

((Shashwat.Awasthi@thomsonreuters.com; within UK: +1 646 223 3403; outside UK: +91 80 61822606, +91 80 37962606;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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