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FTSE lifted by global optimism on U.S. tax bill

Stock Markets Dec 18, 2017 09:40
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By Julien Ponthus

LONDON (Reuters) - UK shares rose on Monday alongside European peers as a global wave of optimism on U.S. tax lifted stocks markets in Asia and led the MSCI all-country world index to a new record high.

The FTSE 100 (FTSE) was up 0.6 percent, even as a rising pound weighed on the index. A strong currency typically cuts revenues for the international companies that dominate the index and do much of their business outside the UK.

"We've been running out of company news to talk about for a while now and the big driver has been U.S. tax reform", said Chris Beauchamp, a market analyst at IG.

"The FTSE and Dax are ticking up nicely for the usual Christmas rally", he added.

Financials added the most points to the index - HSBC (L:HSBA) rose 0.6 percent, Prudential (L:PRU) 0.8 percent and Barclays (L:BARC) 0.7 percent.

Shares in London-listed spreadbetters IG Group (L:IGG), Plus500 (L:PLUSP) and CMC Market (L:CMCX) plunged between 8 and 12 percent after the European Union's securities watchdog proposed curbs on core parts of their market.

Unilever (L:ULVR) lost 0.3 percent after it agreed to sell its margarine and spreads business to U.S. private equity firm KKR wKKR.N> for 6.83 billion euros ($8.04 billion) to concentrate on faster growing products.

"At last the market has the deal that it wanted, on the market's desired terms", Jefferies analysts commented, adding "the positive takeaway for bulls like us is that Unilever is willing to continue to slay sacred cows, in pursuit of growth and value".

LSE (L:LSE) gained 0.5 percent with reports that activist hedge fund The Children's Investment Fund (TCI), which has a 5 percent stake in the London Stock Exchange , is unlikely to succeed in its attempt to remove chairman Donald Brydon at a shareholder vote on Tuesday.

Lonmin (L:LMI) was down 7.2 percent as the CEO of the miner told Reuters that plans to cut around 13,000 jobs were likely to be the biggest obstacle for its suitor, Sibanye-Stillwater (J:SGLJ), to winning South African regulatory approval for its proposed takeover.

Retailers Next (L:NXT) fell 1.1 percent and Morrison Supermarkets (L:MRW) lost 0.6 percent.

FTSE lifted by global optimism on U.S. tax bill
 

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