FTSE up on Sino-U.S. trade hopes; Ryanair warning hits airlines

(Reuters) – British blue-chip stocks rebounded on Friday as investors took hope from signs of easing trade tensions between the United States and China, although a Ryanair alert knocked airline stocks.

The FTSE 100 .FTSE advanced 1.1 percent after trading lower most of the week as sterling rose amid a tumultuous week in UK politics. The mid-caps .FTMC were 0.7 percent higher at 0944 GMT after reaching their highest in a month and a half.

The blue chips were still headed for their first weekly drop in a month, while sterling was on track for its best week against the euro since September 2017.

A Wall Street Journal report that Washington was considering lifting some or all of the tariffs imposed on Chinese imports buoyed stocks globally.

Oil majors BP (BP.L) and Shell (RDSa.L) helped to lead the FTSE 100 gains as crude prices rose after data showed OPEC output fell. [O/R] Easing trade frictions also contributed to the rise.

Financial services recovered after from a sell-off on Thursday caused by a profit warning from Societe Generale (SOGN.PA). HSBC (HSBA.L) rose 1.2 percent.

The prospects for Brexit remained unclear at the end of a chaotic week. Prime Minister Theresa May and opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn deadlocked over how to leave the European Union. Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage said the UK is likely to delay Brexit and another referendum is possible.

Housebuilders, some of the stocks most affected by Brexit outcomes, were among the biggest winners on FTSE 100.

Corporate news drove some moves. Shares in Ryanair (RYA.L), Europe’s largest low-cost carrier, fell 1.2 percent after hitting their lowest in nearly four years on its second profit warning in three months. It also predicted a rough outlook for airlines overall.

“We believe this lower fare environment will continue to shake out more loss making competitors, with WOW, Flybe, and reportedly Germania for example, all currently for sale,” CEO Michael O’Leary said.

Budget rival easyJet (EZJ.L) and British Airways-owner IAG (ICAG.L) declined the most among blue chips as markets shunned airline stocks.

Mid-cap security software company Sophos (SOPH.L) recovered some early losses but remained down 22 percent after flagging lower annual billings.

Source: Reuters

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