FTSE 100 falters on China concerns

The FTSE 100 ended firmly in the red on Monday as disappointing trade data from China weighed on global indices.

London’s top flight closed down 63.16 points, or 0.91%, at 6,855.02 as data from the Asian superpower showed a 4.4% decline in the country’s exports in December.

It represents the worst decline in two years, and comes amid simmering trade tensions between the US and China, as well as a slowdown in global growth.

Connor Campbell, financial analyst at SpreadEx, said: “Given that the commodity sector is rightly edgy every time some bad news comes out of Beijing, it stands to reason that the oil and mining-heavy FTSE was the worst hit of the major indices.

“The likes of BP, Shell, Anglo American and Antofagasta causing the brunt of the decline.”

On the FTSE 250, JD Sports shares were on the rise after the retailer reported robust sales growth, bucking the trend of faltering high street sales.

The sports apparel retailer’s sales increased 15% in the 48 weeks to January 5, while like-for-like sales rose 5%, including a positive performance from the much-hyped Black Friday discount event.

The company said its gross profit margins were maintained as it did not enter into “short-term reactive discounting unnecessarily” during the period.

Shares were up 25.2p, or 6.36%, at 421.4p at the close.

Investors in Revolution Bars, conversely, were drowning their sorrows after the group warned that full-year profit will take a knock from “economic and political uncertainties”, taking a shine off rising sales over the festive period.

The group saw like-for-like sales for the 26 weeks to December 29 drop 4%, with the first quarter declining 5% and the second quarter down 3.1%.

As a result, it now expects half-year earnings to come in around £2 million lower than last year and annual earnings of £12 million, down from £15 million the previous year.

Shares were down 25.8p, or 21%, at 96p.

Sterling, meanwhile, had another rollercoaster day ahead of a critical Parliamentary vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

The British currency spiked in afternoon trade on suggestions that the ultra hard Brexiteers that compose the European Research Group will vote for the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement.

However, the pound eased back to trade 0.3% higher versus the US dollar at 1.287 at the London close. Versus the euro, it was up 0.1% at 1.121.

Fiona Cincotta, senior market analyst at City Index, said: “The vote Tuesday is still expected to go against the PM and if it does she will have three days to come up with a Plan B for Brexit. The pound is gaining ground as investors are beginning to bet on a delay in Brexit or an outright challenge either against the Conservative Party or the result of the Brexit referendum.”

Across Europe, Germany’s DAX was down 0.29% while France’s CAC 40 was 0.39% in the red.

A barrel of Brent Crude was trading at 59.7 US dollars, a fall of 1.3%.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Royal Bank of Scotland up 6.8p at 232.5p, Land Securities up 17.2p at 850.4p, Ocado up 16.8p at 878p and LSE Group up 67p at 4,390p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Intercontinental Hotels Group down 245.21p at 4,299p, Paddy Power Betfair down 270p at 6,260, Astrazeneca down 203p at 5,509p and Pearson down 35.9p at 991.6p.