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US markets beat records amid China trade pact

By August Graham, PA City Reporter

Markets pushed higher on Wednesday as traders waited for the US and China to sign a first-stage trade deal to bring their long-running trade war to an end.

The US indexes Dow Jones and S&P 500 were up by 0.59% and 0.44% respectively, hitting record highs.

The global cheer also helped push up London’s FTSE 100 by 0.27%, or 20.45 points, to 7642.8. The FTSE 250, meanwhile, lost 0.2% to 21713.11.

US president Donald Trump signed the phase one trade deal at the White House on Wednesday morning US time.

“As you know, we just broke the 29,000 mark on the Dow, markets are up substantially today,” Mr Trump said in a speech.

The two countries first hashed out the deal in December.

It aims to end a spiral of retributive tariffs that the two countries put on their imports.

Mr Trump promised to travel to China for phase two negotiations “at a later date”.

“The interim trade deal between the two largest economies in the world should help global trade relations, so that should ease concerns in this part of the world.

“The strength of the US equity markets has helped European benchmarks, but the mood is still relatively muted,” said David Madden, an analyst at CMC Markets.

Meanwhile, the energy utility companies performed well on the FTSE 100, with National Grid, SSE and Centrica all up by nearly 2%.

Sterling was up against the dollar, by 0.09% to 1.3031. Against the euro, the currency fell 0.19% to 1.1679.

In company news, Revolution Bars raised a glass as its shares rose 5.44% to 89.1p after the seventh year in a row of record Christmas trading, as bosses revealed each of its 74 bars banked £65,000 a week on average.

The company said like-for-like sales over the four weeks leading up to New Year’s Day were up 4% compared with the same period last year.

Retailer Quiz has reported plummeting sales over the seven-week Christmas period as it struggled to cope with “challenging” high street conditions.

The fashion business said group sales dived 9.3% over the period to January 4, driven by a slide in online sales. Shares dived even further, by 17.31% to 15.53p.

Housebuilder Persimmon saw the number of homes it completed fall by 4% in the last year, as the company attempts to improve the quality of its building work following a scathing report into its work practices. Shares rose 0.39% to 2,807p.

Bosses were told that they were focusing too much on building as many houses as possible – but failing to ensure the homes were habitable for the long term.

And fellow house-builder Vistry – formerly known as Bovis Homes – said 2019 profits are expected to be at record levels, despite bosses warning that Brexit and the general election have hit house prices.

Pre-tax profits, excluding one-off costs, are set to be above market expectations of £181.6 million, with recent acquisitions working well, the company said. Shares fell 2.91% to 1,303p.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Ocado, up 35.5p to 1,338.50p, Pearson, up 13.4p to 618.40p, Informa, up 17.2p to 856.80p, National Grid, up 18.1p to 956.60p, and SSE, up 28p to 1,486.50p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Prudential, down 53.5p to 1,400.50p, NMC Healthcare, down 39.5p to 1,345.50p, Royal Bank of Scotland, down 5.8p to 224.90p, Sainsbury’s, down 5.5p to 215.00p, and DS Smith, down 8.9p to 358.70p.