London close: FTSE mildly up amid transatlantic caution ahead of Trump speech
Equities in London turned a mildly positive performance ahead of US President Donald Trump's speech before Congress, while US Federal Reserve's interest rate stance was again in focus.
In London, FTSE 100 closed up 0.14% or 10.44 points to 7,263.44, and FTSE 250 finished up 0.53% or 99.65 points at 18,770.71.
FTSE 350 indices for chemicals, aerospace & defence and industrial engineering all rose firmly, and those for industrial metals and mining were hefty fallers.
Investors were also digesting the latest survey from GfK, which showed UK consumer confidence fell in February. GfK's monthly consumer sentiment index nudged down to -6 from -5 in January, in line with expectations.
In Europe, the Stoxx Euro 50, Dax and Cac 40 made minor gains, while on Wall St the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite were all mildly lower.
"European and US markets have spent much of the day contemplating what the implications of Donald Trump's speech will be tomorrow morning," said IG market analyst Joshua Mahony.
"In a week with a whole host of economic releases, it is once more down to Trump to set the tone," added Mahony in a sentiment shared by multiple market watchers.
UK blue chips rising included engineering services company Babcock International, which said it had traded in line with expectations. Its full-year outlook remained unchanged.
Another riser of note was engineer GKN, which recorded a 12% jump in full-year pre-tax profit as sales rose and the company expressed confidence over its prospects for 2017.
Several top-100 firms issued annual results.
The numbers from Croda International, Taylor Wimpey and Fresnillo were well received, but those from Provident Financial and St James's Place prompted less warmth.
Blue-chip sectors notably firmer included commercial property and pharmaceuticals, while miners were out of vogue as the US dollar made mild pre-Trump gains.
BHP Billiton and Randgold Resources were the top mining fallers. These were followed by several insurers, supermarkets and minor falls among several US rates-touchy utilities.
"On the downside mining stocks, which have been among the biggest gainers in the current Trump bump, have taken a little bit of a pause," said Michael Hewson of CMC Markets UK.
"The big question now having seen a fairly benign start to the year despite all the political uncertainty is whether the equity market rally succumbs to the market equivalent of the Ides of March," chief market analyst Hewson said.
The market, he added, was prone to a "sharp downward lurch" if Trump disappointed on the substance of this week's earlier rhetoric.
Meantime, on Monday evening, the president of the Federal Reserve bank of Dallas, Robert Kaplan, told an audience the US central bank should hike rates "sooner rather than later".
That came as Fed funds futures were pricing-in 50.0% odds of another 25-basis-point lift at the Fed's 14-15 March policy meeting, according to Bloomberg data, versus 34.0% one week before.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Babcock International Group (BAB) 948.00p 7.12%
GKN (GKN) 361.10p 5.28%
Croda International (CRDA) 3,508.00p 4.87%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,726.00p 3.66%
Capita (CPI) 563.50p 2.73%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 537.00p 2.48%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 787.00p 2.47%
Pearson (PSON) 674.00p 2.20%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 238.40p 2.14%
BAE Systems (BA.) 630.00p 1.94%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
St James's Place (STJ) 1,055.00p -3.03%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,301.50p -1.81%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 7,510.00p -1.57%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,297.00p -1.30%
Glencore (GLEN) 322.05p -1.12%
BT Group (BT.A) 327.10p -1.12%
CRH (CRH) 2,720.00p -0.87%
Merlin Entertainments (MERL) 491.70p -0.83%
Old Mutual (OML) 218.10p -0.73%
Aviva (AV.) 498.00p -0.70%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Meggitt (MGGT) 470.50p 13.07%
Bodycote (BOY) 790.00p 10.80%
Senior (SNR) 182.90p 4.04%
Derwent London (DLN) 2,820.00p 3.87%
Fisher (James) & Sons (FSJ) 1,618.00p 3.78%
Mitie Group (MTO) 206.70p 3.35%
Hays (HAS) 162.80p 3.10%
Ultra Electronics Holdings (ULE) 1,946.00p 3.07%
TalkTalk Telecom Group (TALK) 175.80p 3.05%
Weir Group (WEIR) 1,897.00p 2.82%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Go-Ahead Group (GOG) 1,970.00p -13.79%
Moneysupermarket.com Group (MONY) 329.70p -6.07%
ZPG Plc (ZPG) 371.50p -5.13%
International Personal Finance (IPF) 181.20p -3.82%
Greggs (GRG) 978.00p -3.26%
Rightmove (RMV) 3,931.00p -2.87%
Brown (N.) Group (BWNG) 202.90p -2.78%
JRP Group (JRP) 146.90p -2.52%
CLS Holdings (CLI) 1,687.00p -2.49%
Polymetal International (POLY) 960.00p -2.39%