By Dave Morris
London markets partly retraced Wednesday’s price falls as investors looked for fresh signals in the U.S.-China trade tussle.
How did markets perform?
The U.K.’s FTSE 100 /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX +1.15% climbed 0.4% to 7,214. On Wednesday, it fell 1.2%.
The pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD -0.1275% edged up 0.1% to $1.2632, after moving downward Wednesday by 0.3%.
What’s moving the markets?
Reuters reported on a request for federal funding by the U.S. Defense Department to bolster production of rare earths minerals, which China is the dominant player in and has threatened to withhold. Meanwhile, the Chinese government is reportedly telling officials and state media to tone down some of its rhetoric and to avoid referring to the opposing camp as the “U.S. side”.
Italian bond yields rose again after Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini demanded that the European Central Bank intervene and back government debt.
In economic data, U.S. initial jobless claims for May will be closely watched by investors, as economists expect an increase to 214,000 from 211,000. There is also U.S. first quarter gross domestic product (GDP), and the consensus prediction is for no change from the previous quarter’s figure, 3.2%.
Which stocks are active?
U.K. transport operator FirstGroup PLC /zigman2/quotes/202157466/delayed UK:FGP +1.80% shares climbed 4.4% on the announcement that it planned to sell its Greyhound bus operation in the U.S., to focus on its school and local bus units there, and to mollify an activist investor. The statement was made in the course of announcing full-year earnings, which narrowed the company’s loss compared with the previous year.
Johnson Matthey PLC /zigman2/quotes/207054035/delayed UK:JMAT +0.22% shares fell 3.1% as the British chemical company reported full year earnings, and guided lower for the coming year’s figures. The company’s pretax profit was £488 million, significantly above 2018’s £320 million figure.