All eyes in Britain might have been on the General Election yesterday, but stock markets worldwide were buoyed by the US president’s latest musings on the trade war with China.
President Trump, with his usual aplomb on the social media site Twitter, wrote that the US was ‘getting very close to a big deal with China’.
His latest U-turn in the trade spat came days after he indicated he could wait to strike a deal until after America’s 2020 election.
But even cynical traders were relieved by the remarks and sent equity markets higher across the world.
President Trump, with his usual aplomb on the social media site Twitter, wrote that the US was ‘getting very close to a big deal with China’
The FTSE 100 leapt in the aftermath of the mid-afternoon tweet, rising by as much as 1.2 per cent during trading, before ending the day up 0.8 per cent, or 57.22 points, at 7273.47.
US stock markets jumped, sending the S&P 500 up 0.9 per cent, touching a record high. The Nasdaq rose 0.7 per cent and the Dow Jones 0.8 per cent.
Germany’s Dax added 0.6 per cent by the close, and France’s Cac 40 0.4 per cent. Asia-focused stocks including Prudential (up 3.8 per cent, or 50.5p, to 1369p) and HSBC (up 2.6 per cent, or 14.8p, to 576.5p) rose on the news.
Standard Chartered rose 3.9 per cent, or 26.8p, to 718p, boosted by the latest on the trade war and an agreement to sell its £986million stake in Indonesia’s PT Bank Permata to Thailand’s Bangkok Bank.
The FTSE 250 also closed higher, rising 0.7 per cent, or 145.92 points, to finish at 20793.03.
Elsewhere, it was a rocky day for infrastructure firms Costain and John Laing Group.
Stock Watch – Anglo African Oil & Gas
Anglo African Oil & Gas is slashing costs after the government authority it is partnered with in the Republic of Congo has failed to pay it more than £4million since September.
The AIM-listed firm said this means it might not be able to drill a well there – and drilling could be stymied anyway by a rig not being available until June.
Separately, it is also preparing to take legal action in Paris over a bungled transaction in Tunisia.
The splurge of bad news saw shares fall 69.6 per cent, or 1.6p, to 0.7p.
Costain more than halved its profit guidance to between £17million and £19million, down from £38million to £42million, after it was told to pay to settle a dispute about a Welsh motorway project.
And John Laing slumped after the infrastructure investor said in an update the value of its investments at the end of the year will be ‘marginally’ below forecasts.
It will take a £50million hit from sterling trading at stronger levels between July and November.
Shares in John Laing fell 9.8 per cent, or 38.4p, to 355p, while Costain dived 18.4 per cent, or 35.4p, to 157.2p, after the profit warning – its second this year.
Construction contractor Balfour Beatty fared better, advancing 4.3 per cent, or 10p, to 240.4p after it said annual revenue will top £8billion and profits will come in ahead of expectations.
It reckons its order book will stand at more than £14billion, which it described as ‘significantly higher’ than the £12.6billion it reported at the end of 2018.
And engineering contractor Keller Group jumped 11.4 per cent, or 73p, to 712p after confirming interim chief executive Mike Speakman will take the role permanently and promising it will hand shareholders extra cash through dividends in 2019 and 2020.
Aston Martin shares revved up to a five-month high after the luxury car maker revealed it has teamed up with European plane maker Airbus to design helicopters. They will unveil the aircraft on January 3 at Courchevel in the French Alps.
Aston investors were encouraged by the latest indication the struggling company is rebuilding its reputation and branching out beyond the car market, which has slumped over the past year. Shares rose 9 per cent, or 50.8p, to 615.2p.
Private healthcare provider Mediclinic expects full-year revenues to grow by 6.5 per cent in its southern Africa division, which includes its operations in Namibia and South Africa.
It will also spend more money on staff and IT as it tries to boost ‘clinical quality and patient experience’. Shares rose 2.7 per cent, or 10.4p, to 395.3p.
And asset management consultancy MJ Hudson rose on its first day of trading on AIM, closing at 59p, 3.5pc higher than its listing price of 57p.
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