London close: Stocks mixed as gold rises ahead of Easter after Trump says US dollar overvalued
Equities in London ended Thursday mixed, ahead of the Easter weekend, as investors headed for safe-haven assets after US President Donald Trump said the dollar was over valued.
Trump said the greenback was too strong. "That's hurting -- that will hurt ultimately," he told the Wall St Journal. He also wanted interest rates low.
His words followed Fed Reserve chair Janet Yellen having stated earlier in the week that a neutral stance on US monetary policy was appropriate.
In London, the FTSE 100 fell 0.29% to end the day and week at 7,327.59, and the FTSE 250 was up 0.52% to 19,525.33. At 16:45 GMT, Wall St was mildly higher. Europe was modestly lower.
Global markets remain awash with geopolitical concerns -- these centred on the US and North Korea, the US and Russia over Syria, Brexit, and France's presidential election.
"In a week where Donald Trump has been seemingly fighting pushing back against both the Russia-Syria and China-North Korea relationships, there is no wonder we have seen geopolitical fears dominate the agenda," said IG market analyst Joshua Mahony.
"With the long weekend ahead in the UK, there is certainly an element of position unwinding given the unwillingness of traders to hold anything going into the weekend," said Mahony.
Data out of China earlier showed exports rose the most in two years in March, as imports moderated from a spike the month before.
Meanwhile, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors' headline house-price balance for March was at 22% and in keeping with expectations.
Among the FTSE 100 equities on the move on Thursday, Standard Life, Reckitt Benckiser and Taylor Wimpey all appeared on a longish list of stocks going ex-dividend.
Generally speaking, US interest rates-sensitive banks did poorly with HSBC, Standard Chartered, Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays down.
Hargreaves Lansdown equity analyst Nicholas Hyett said trying to pin down exactly what was moving banking shares was always a challenge in a globally-connected market.
"However, the Bank of England’s Credit Conditions Review released this morning, is unlikely to be helping UK banks. It showed a slowdown in the growth of business lending and, perhaps more importantly, a decline in availability of unsecured consumer credit."
Oil majors Royal Dutch Shell and BP lost ground, as did a number of multi-commodity miners after Rio Tinto. Gold specialists like Randgold Resources and Fresnillo did well as investors bought safe-haven gold.
In the news, healthcare group Mediclinic International gained as its two largest platforms, Switzerland and Southern Africa, in addition to its Dubai business, all performed in line with expectations during the 2017 financial year.
Royal Mail shares rose after it announced it would shut its defined benefit pension scheme in 2018, saying there was no affordable solution to keep the plan open in its current form.
Hargreaves Lansdown has appointed Christopher Hill as chief executive, effective from today.
Associated British Foods got a boost as Jefferies upped the stock to 'buy' from 'hold'.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,709.00p 3.59%
Mediclinic International (MDC) 759.00p 3.05%
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 2,532.00p 2.26%
Sage Group (SGE) 663.50p 2.08%
Persimmon (PSN) 2,221.00p 1.55%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,641.00p 1.55%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 572.00p 1.51%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 7,535.00p 1.48%
Whitbread (WTB) 4,175.00p 1.33%
Old Mutual (OML) 195.10p 1.30%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Standard Life (SL.) 368.70p -2.36%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 643.90p -1.74%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 709.50p -1.65%
Tesco (TSCO) 181.50p -1.57%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 1,652.00p -1.55%
CRH (CRH) 2,701.00p -1.53%
Centrica (CNA) 216.30p -1.41%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 2,192.50p -1.35%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 228.40p -1.30%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 2,106.50p -1.15%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Pets at Home Group (PETS) 188.70p 5.66%
Acacia Mining (ACA) 493.80p 5.20%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 190.50p 5.07%
Ibstock (IBST) 216.30p 4.34%
Lancashire Holdings Limited (LRE) 679.00p 4.22%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 247.00p 3.52%
Pagegroup (PAGE) 491.40p 3.37%
Bovis Homes Group (BVS) 911.50p 3.23%
PZ Cussons (PZC) 339.60p 3.07%
Grafton Group Units (GFTU) 741.00p 2.92%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
AO World (AO.) 137.00p -4.33%
esure Group (ESUR) 240.70p -2.90%
PayPoint (PAY) 1,059.00p -2.67%
CLS Holdings (CLI) 1,940.00p -2.46%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 155.00p -2.45%
Savills (SVS) 929.00p -2.11%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 228.50p -1.89%
Essentra (ESNT) 519.50p -1.89%
Bodycote (BOY) 825.00p -1.37%
Euromoney Institutional Investor (ERM) 1,110.00p -1.33%