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London stocks edge lower as losses in miners offset Barclays boost

Published 20/02/2024, 08:40
Updated 20/02/2024, 17:16
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, Britain, December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

By Shubham Batra and Shristi Achar A

(Reuters) -The UK's main stock indexes fell on Tuesday to snap a four-day winning streak as losses in base metal miners due to tepid copper prices eclipsed gains in Barclays (LON:BARC) after the British lender laid out plans to overhaul its business.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index eased 0.1% after rising to a seven-week high earlier in the session.

Industrial miners slid 2.55% as copper prices swung between gains and losses, while traders weighed demand prospects in top consumer China as it comes off the Lunar New Year break. [MET/L]

Limiting losses, Barclays jumped 8.6% to record a 22-week high. The surge powered the banking index to a six-week high with a 1.8% rise.

The lender unveiled plans including bumper buybacks, an overhaul of its operations, cost cuts and asset sales to improve performance and lift shares.

Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey on Tuesday said he was comfortable with investors betting on interest rate cuts this year but pointed to signs that Britain's economy was picking up after falling into recession in late 2023.

"Normally any encouraging comments about interest rates cuts would fire up equities," said Danni Hewson, head of financial analysis at AJ Bell.

"In this situation, Bailey was only setting the scene about how things might work in the future, rather than laying his cards on the table and revealing the precise moment when the Bank would start to cut."

Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) said it now expected the BoE to deliver an interest rate cut in June, compared with its prior forecast of May. A Reuters poll of economists showed the central bank will start cutting interest rates in the third quarter.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, Britain, December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

Among other movers, InterContinental Hotels Group gained 5.4% after the Holiday Inn owner said it expected to return more than $1 billion to shareholders in 2024.

Meanwhile, the midcap index FTSE 250 slid 0.6% led by a 9.6% drop in Mobico Group's shares as the public transport firm said it would delay publishing its 2023 results.

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