London stocks hold steady as investors digest Manchester attack

 23 May 2017 - 14:13

London stocks hold steady as investors digest Manchester attack
Retail staff hug each other after being evacuated from the Arndale Centre shopping mall in Manchester, northwest England on May 23, 2017 following a security alert the day after a deadly terror attack at the Manchester Arena. AFP / Ben STANSALL

AFP

London: The London stock market flattened Tuesday, with sentiment dented by a deadly terror attack in Manchester, but eurozone equities rallied on bright data.

The British capital's FTSE 100 index of leading blue-chip companies added just under 0.1 percent, while the pound remained under pressure following news of the atrocity.

"Trading was inevitably overshadowed by last night's terror attack in Manchester," noted Russ Mould, investment director at stockbroker AJ Bell.

At least 22 people were killed, including children, in the suicide bomb blast at the end of a pop concert by US star Ariana Grande in Britain's third biggest city of Manchester.

Police say they believe Monday night's attack, the deadliest on British soil in 12 years and coming before next month's general election, was carried out by one man who had died at the scene. 

The attack, the worst in Britain since London bombers killed 52 people in 2005, reawakened concerns about terror and geopolitical worries.

In the eurozone, meanwhile, stocks rose on well-received economic numbers, with the Frankfurt DAX index adding 0.3 percent and the Paric CAC up 0.6 percent. 

"The DAX and the CAC are trading higher this morning after both countries revealed impressive flash services and manufacturing PMI figures," said CMC Markets analyst David Madden.

"The eurozone as a whole also reported figures which painted a positive picture of its services and manufacturing sector."

The eurozone economy grew at its fastest pace in six years in May as job creation in Europe picked up to its highest level in a decade, a closely watched survey showed.

Data monitoring company IHS Markit said its May Composite Purchasing Managers Index came in at 56.8 points, unchanged from April which was also the best for six years.

The PMI measures companies' willingness to invest in their business and so gives a good idea of how well the underlying economy is performing. 

Any reading above the boom-bust 50 points line indicates the economy is expanding.

Asia turns lower 

Asian markets mostly turned lower Tuesday as profit-taking overshadowed a healthy lead from Wall Street.

Global stocks had rallied Monday, with energy firms benefiting from a surge in oil prices as OPEC and Russia look set to extend an output cut, while US dealers welcomed an optimistic survey on US manufacturing.

But crude was unable to sustain gains Tuesday and this weighed on petroleum-linked firms before a meeting between OPEC and Russia later in the week.

With Donald Trump on his first overseas trip, the political crisis that drove huge losses last week has calmed for now. 

However, the Washington Post reported that the president had asked two top intelligence officials in March to help push back against an FBI probe into his campaign's possible links with Russia.

Markets were hammered in the middle of last week on fears about Trump's economy-boosting agenda, with his presidency engulfed in a crisis over his firing of FBI chief James Comey and allegations he disclosed sensitive intelligence to Russian officials.

Key figures around 1030 GMT

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.1 percent at 7,501.65 points

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.3 percent at 12,659.70

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.6 percent at 5,354.61

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.6 percent at 3,597.56

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.3 percent at 19,613.28 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.1 percent at 25,403.15 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.5 percent at 3,061.95 (close)

New York - Dow: UP 0.4 percent at 20,894.83 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1248 from $1.1239 

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 111.23 yen from 111.30 yen

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2989 from $1.2998

Oil - Brent North Sea: DOWN 46 cents at $53.41 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 42 cents at $50.71