The FTSE 100 lingered just below the 7,400 mark as investors across the world kept their sights on the thawing trade war between the US and China.
Markets have yet again pinned their hopes on a potential deal between the world’s two biggest economies, after trade tensions between President Donald Trump and Beijing looked to threaten global economies.
But there was little trade war news on Wednesday.
“There has been a lot of talk about Washington DC and Beijing edging towards signing phase one of the trade deal, but the Chinese government are now pressing the US to drop the tariffs they imposed in September. It is a big ask from Beijing, but markets have held up relatively well considering,” CMC Markets analyst David Madden explained.
The FTSE 100 gained 0.12%, or 8.57 points, rising to 7,396.65 points on the day. It was pulled down by BT, which lost a major contract to Vodafone, and JD Sports but saved by the likes of tobacco company Imperial Brands.
Meanwhile, the FTSE’s French counterpart Cac rose 0.34% while Germany’s Dax was up 0.24% over the day.
“There wasn’t a whole lot going on from a macro-perspective this Wednesday, leading to a mixed session for the US and European markets,” said Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.
The pound fell 0.1% against the dollar to 1.2870. It registered a similar drop against the euro, reaching 1.1621.
In company news, Virgin Media agreed a five-year mobile deal with Vodafone UK which will see Virgin Mobile services, including 5G, hosted on the Vodafone network.
The deal will replace Virgin Media’s current agreement with BT which expires in late 2021.
Marks & Spencer said it is rapidly pushing ahead with its turnaround plan after half-year sales slumped during a “challenging” period for its clothing and homeware business.
The high street retailer saw sales slide 2.1% to £4.86 million for the six months to September 28.
Shopping centre owner Intu warned that rental income in 2019 is likely to fall by 9%, with more than half the decline coming from Arcadia and Monsoon pushing through an insolvency process known as a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA).
Bosses said rent in 2020 is also expected to drop, but at a slower rate than 2019, and added that the political and economic uncertainty is putting off current tenants from signing up to new lettings.
Carpetright’s biggest shareholder notched up another win on Wednesday as another major investor got behind its tentative £15.2 million plan to lift the company from under a mountain of debt.
Investec Asset Management said it planned to throw its more than 11.3 million shares behind a bid by Meditor to take control of Carpetright.
The price of international oil standard Brent crude fell just over 2% to 61.72 dollars per barrel.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Imperial Brands, up 41.8p to 1,791.00p, Centrica, up 1.56p to 72.56p, AB Foods, up 48p to 2,422.00p, British American Tobacco, up 51p to 2,842.00p, and Unilever, up 84p to 4,689.50p.
The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were BT, down 9.46p to 193.14p, JD Sports, down 17.8p to 741.80p, Hiscox, down 32p to 1,389.00p, Ocado, down 29.5p to 1,330.50p, and British Land, down 11.2p to 592.60p.