FTSE 100 drops from 4-week high as trade-war worries hurt mining shares

  • Written by MarketWatch
  • Published in Economics

U.K. stocks fell Friday, pulling back from a nearly four-week high, with mining stocks knocked by worries about escalating tensions between the U.S. and China on trade issues.

How markets are performing

The FTSE 100 index UKX, -0.75%[1] dropped 0.7% to 7,708.42. On Thursday, the index rose 0.8%[2] and ended at its highest since May 23, according to WSJ Market Data Group.

This week, the London benchmark was on course for a modest rise of 0.3%, enough to break a string of three weekly declines.

The pound GBPUSD, +0.1131%[3] bought $1.3280, slightly higher than $1.3260 late Thursday in New York. Sterling was looking a roughly 0.8% decline against the greenback for the week. Against the euro GBPEUR, -0.0611%[4] the pound fetched €1.1464, little changed from €1.1462 in the prior session.

What’s driving markets

Equity losses picked up following a Reuters report that the U.S. government is nearly finished drawing up the list of a second wave of tariffs on Chinese goods[5], on $100 billion of products.

U.S. President Donald Trump late Thursday approved a first round of levies[6] on about $50 billion in Chinese goods, and details of the initial list are expected to be announced Friday. Beijing responded to Trump’s list approval by saying it will impose levies on $50 billion in U.S. products.

Mining stocks took a hit on concerns that a trade war will lead to lower demand for industrial and precious metals. China is the world’s largest buyer of copper. This week, mining stocks were dragged lower on concerns about economic growth in China after business activity slowed in May. [7]

The basic materials sector makes up more than 9% of the FTSE 100’s weighting, and mining stocks make up 87% of that sector, according to FactSet data.

What strategists are saying

“The political wrangling is clearly weighing on sentiment in capital markets with yields on benchmark U.S. 10-year bonds TMUBMUSD10Y, -0.06%[8]   drifting lower towards the 2.90% level,” said Boris Schlossberg, managing director of FX strategy, in a note. Yields fall when investors buy bonds, with government paper considered a haven asset.

“Despite the seemingly robust growth of the U.S. economy, investors...

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