U.S. Markets closed

FTSE 100 up as financials, miners lead charge; Plus500 tanks

FILE PHOTO: The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, Britain, December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

By Shashwat Awasthi and Yadarisa Shabong

(Reuters) - Gains in financial stocks and miners after some promising data from China and positive U.S. bank earnings led Britain's FTSE 100 higher on Friday, while a plunge in revenue took down mid-cap online trading platform Plus500 and its peers.

The FTSE 100 was up 0.3 percent and the FTSE 250 rose 0.5 percent to cling to a six-month high hit in the previous session to cap off a third straight week of gains.

Plus500 slumped more than 31 percent on its worst day in almost four years after its quarterly revenue plummeted to below a fifth of a year earlier. It took a hit from less market volatility creating fewer trading opportunities and new rules affecting retail clients.

Its peer CMC Markets gave up 4.3 percent.

China reported a mixed set of data on Friday, with March exports rising more than expected and imports declining more than expected.

Mining companies Rio Tinto and Glencore added 1.2 percent and 3 percent, respectively, and were among the biggest boosts to the main index as copper prices rebounded. Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell also attributed the rise to data showing China's iron ore imports rose in March after touching a 10-month low in February.

Separately, data from China's central bank showed that new loans and total lending surged in March, suggesting months of policy loosening were starting to bear fruit. Asia-focussed heavyweight banks HSBC and Standard Chartered advanced as a result.

Sentiment was also helped by forecast-beating earnings from U.S. bellwethers JP Morgan and Wells Fargo, which slightly eased fears of a global economic slowdown.

However, CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson maintained that expectations for the U.S. earnings season were low.

"The global economic outlook continues to look a little on the soft side, even without this week's IMF growth downgrades," he said.

Among the few blue-chip components in the red were companies with a larger international presence that lost as sterling firmed after Labour Party finance spokesman John McDonnell said talks between the government and the opposition Labour Party on Brexit had been positive.

Mid-cap Games Workshop Group jumped 12.1 percent on its best day since June 2017 after it guided to higher annual pretax profit.

Pets At Home tumbled 14.2 percent, its biggest one-day loss ever, after Canada Pension Plan Investment Board agreed to sell its holding in the company, almost 11 percent of the shares.

Hammerson erased almost all of its 5.2 percent gain during the session to end with a 0.4 percent rise after a Bloomberg report that French shopping centre operator Klepierre had no current plans to bid for the British real estate investment trust.


(Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong and Shashwat Awasthi, additional reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru; editing by Larry King and Dale Hudson)