The UK’s FTSE 100 fell on Tuesday, dragged down by heavyweight retail, insurance and energy stocks, although employment numbers highlighting a steady UK economic recovery helped limit losses.

The UK blue-chip index was affected by worries over the economic slowdown of China, the world’s growth engine, which continued to dog international stock markets on Tuesday.

The FTSE 100 drifted 0.15% lower at 7,143.20 in the wake of the latest domestic jobs print, which was slightly better than expected. The UK’s unemployment rate dipped to 4.7% in the last quarter from 4.8% previously, compared with an expectation that the number would remain static.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of people in employment rose again, by 182,000 to 28.9 million, but remained 201,000 below pre-pandemic levels. Vacancies, meanwhile, rose to a record high of 953,000.

The day’s big mover on the Footsie was miner BHP (BHP), which confirmed it was in talks to spin off its oil assets in a deal that would see it merge them with those of Aussie giant Woodside Petroleum. BHP shares opened nearly 9% higher.

Unilever (ULVR), insurer Prudential (PRU) and oil major BP (BP.) were among the top drags.

The domestically focused mid-cap index fell 0.25% with travel stocks declining the most.

US stock ended the session largely in positive territory with gains chalked-up by the Dow Jones and S&P 500. In tech, the overall Nasdaq Composite ended 0.2% down although the Nasdaq 100 list of biggest firms closed a little better than flat.

STOCKS ON THE MOVE

Online trading platform Plus500 (PLUS) jumped 7.7% to the top of the mid-cap index after it forecast annual revenue ‘significantly ahead’ of analyst estimates.

On the FTSE 250, publisher Future (FUTR) gave up most of the ground gained a day after unveiling the £300 million takeover of rival Dennis. It fell 4% early on.

Food delivery platform Just Eat Takeaway (JET) added 0.2% to £61.43, despite reporting wider first-half losses pinned on investment spending.

Still, Just Eat Takeaway said its losses had reached a nadir and it stuck to its full-year guidance.

Telecom group BT (BT.A) fell 1.6% to 173.2p on announcing that it had appointed Adam Crozier to succeed Jan du Plessis as chairman from 1 November.

Crozier currently was chairman of hotel group Whitbread (WTB) and online retailer ASOS (ASC:AIM).

ELSEWHERE ON THE MARKET

Climate management solutions group Genuit (GEN) fell 0.3% to 646p despite upgrading its annual outlook after it reported a 7.6% rise in first-profit profit thanks to a boost from acquisitions.

Genuit said it now expected full-year underlying operating profit be 'ahead of previous management expectations.’

Engineering and technology staffing company Gattaca (GATC:AIM) shed 5.3% to 234p despite it, too, lifting its forecasts amid a recovery in the recruitment market.

Gattaca said it expected continuing underlying pre-tax profit for the full year to be above £3 million, which compared to market consensus of £2.7 million.

Brake-disc manufacturer Surface Transforms (SCE:AIM) jumped 11% to 68.7p on news that it had been selected as a tier-one supplier to a 'major mainstream US automotive company' in a contract worth around £20 million.

Ground engineering contractor Van Elle (VANL:AIM) dropped 4% to 44.15p, having booked a full-year loss amid a flat revenue performance pinned on the pandemic and Brexit uncertainty.

Van Elle said its revenue run-rate at the end of the financial year had returned to pre-pandemic levels.

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Issue Date: 17 Aug 2021