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May 13, 2019, 9:55 a.m. EDT

London markets fall as global trade tensions intensify

By Dave Morris

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London markets fell Monday as U.S.-China trade tensions intensifying, though appeared to shrug off fraying Brexit negotiations.

How did markets perform?

The U.K.’s FTSE 100 (FTSE:UK:UKX)  fell 0.4% to 7,170.54, after edging down 0.1% Friday.

The pound (XTUP:GBPUSD)  was up 0.2% to $1.3030. On Friday it edged up 0.1%.

What’s moving the markets?

After plenty of sabers were rattled in the media over the weekend, China stepped up to the plate on Monday with pledges to lift tariffs as high as 25% on $60 billion of U.S. goods. President Donald Trump over the weekend and Monday insisted via Twitter that the U.S. has the advantage in talks, even as Chinese state media said Beijing would not bow to U.S. pressure.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He told Xinhua that cooperation is the right choice, and that casually accusing one side of “backtracking” during negotiations was irresponsible. The dig at U.S. President Donald Trump and his team, who have accused China of changing its stance midway through the negotiations, came as Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow broke from the president in admitting that tariffs would hurt both sides. The talks are expected to resume, though no timetable has been set.

Brexit talks between the U.K.’s ruling Conservative Party and the opposition Labour Party were looking fragile as The Times reported a potential cabinet revolt . The paper said Tuesday’s cabinet meeting would see ministers pushing for a series of so-called indicative votes in Parliament rather than continuing talks with Labour, which some view as politically toxic.

Which stocks are active?

Vodafone Group PLC (LON:UK:VOD)  shares slumped 5% on reports that it was planning to cut its dividend. According to the Sunday Times, the telecommunications company will announce at its first quarter earnings Tuesday that it needs the funds to pay for investments in 5G network space in Italy and Germany.

Centrica PLC (LON:UK:CNA)  shares were up 2% as investors rewarded the energy utility for not delivering results as bad as had been expected. The company formerly known as British Gas warned that headwinds ranging from the U.K. government’s energy price cap to warmer than normal temperatures had dampened its first quarter, and that they were weighing on its full year outlook.

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