By Carla Mozee, MarketWatch
Stocks in the U.K. ended modestly lower in choppy trade Tuesday as mining shares slumped as the dollar strengthened to multiweek highs, dragging down commodities priced in the currency.
The FTSE 100 /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX -0.31% lost 0.3% to finish at 6,820.79. Trading was closed Monday for a late-August bank holiday.
While a stronger U.S. economy should be supportive for global growth, the FTSE 100 on Tuesday was “held back by a strong dollar, with the fallers’ board looking like a who’s who of mining firms,” said IG market analyst Joshua Mahony in a note.
In the mining group, shares of copper producer Antofagasta PLC /zigman2/quotes/200173667/delayed UK:ANTO -0.03% dropped 5.4%, Randgold Resources PLC lost 4.1% and iron-ore miner Rio Tinto PLC /zigman2/quotes/208934945/delayed UK:RIO -0.41% /zigman2/quotes/202627887/composite RIO +2.12% /zigman2/quotes/200083756/delayed AU:RIO -3.28% ended the session 4.7% lower.
Offering an upbeat glimmer, shares of Associated British Foods PLC /zigman2/quotes/204493701/delayed UK:ABF -1.09% rose 3.4% as RBC raised its rating on the company, which runs sugar operations and the retailer Primark, to outperform from sector perform.
Bunzl PLC /zigman2/quotes/201880362/delayed UK:BNZL -2.16% shares rose 1.4% after the maker of coffee cups and mops raised its interim dividend payment and posted a 6% rise in first half pretax profit of £155.6 million ($203.88 million).
On Friday, the U.K. benchmarkrose 0.3% after Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen said the U.S. economy looks ready to withstand higher interest rates, which elevated expectations for rate increases in the U.S.
“The devaluation of gold, silver, copper and iron ore in the wake of Friday’s dollar rally is expected to provide a drag for days to come, with only crude prices remaining surprisingly resilient amid something of a bloodbath for commodity stocks,” he said.
A higher dollar makes dollar-denominated commodities like copper more expensive for holders of other currencies to purchase.
Precious-metal producer Fresnillo PLC /zigman2/quotes/201300065/delayed UK:FRES -3.15% slumped 5.6% and Glencore PLC /zigman2/quotes/201400686/delayed UK:GLEN -1.15% was off 4.3%, adding to last week’s loss of 1.9% after the miner and commodities trader posted a $369 million half-year net loss.
Oil prices eventually turned lower /zigman2/quotes/209726727/delayed CLV26 0.00% . But shares of major oil companies were mixed. BP PLC was down 0.3% while Royal Dutch Shell PLC /zigman2/quotes/204253697/delayed UK:RDSB +1.43% /zigman2/quotes/207682964/composite RDS.B +3.32% rose 0.3%. Shell said Monday it reached a deal to sell certain assets in the Gulf of Mexico for $425 million to EnVen Energy Ventures LLC, an affiliate of Houston-based EnVen Energy Corp.
As the dollar advanced, the pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD -0.4103% was trading at $1.3090, down from $1.3113 late Monday.
Housing: Meanwhile, shares of home builders retreated after the Office for National Statistics said the number of new mortgages approved in the U.K. fell in July to 60,912, the lowest level in more than a year.
Taylor Wimpey PLC’s stock fell 2.2%, Berkeley Group Holdings PLC /zigman2/quotes/202576163/delayed UK:BKG -0.25% was off 2.4%, Persimmon PLC /zigman2/quotes/206444744/delayed UK:PSN -0.95% was pushed 2.7% lower and Barratt Developments PLC /zigman2/quotes/209812640/delayed UK:BDEV -0.78% lost 1.4%.
The British housing market has “not seized up by any means…but there are signs the Brexit vote has exerted a severe shock,” wrote Neil Wilson, markets analyst at ETX Capital.
“Prices have so far held up pretty well but this decline in approvals suggests this situation may not last, particularly as the unemployment rate is expected to tick upwards and a weak pound hits people in their pockets,” he said.
Time to sell Mylan — here are 2 better picks
Barron's Bounce: Mylan has been in the news for hiking prices on its EpiPen. The stock is flat since we recommended it in March, but we now have serious doubts about management.