Emerging concerns of a global recession drag on UK stock markets in early trade on Thursday as a political unrest in Hong Kong, inverse yield curves and ex-dividends take their toll in a largely quiet day for corporate news.

The FTSE 100 sinks around 25 points, or about 0.35%, to 7,123.14, its lowest since February and echoing the dismal session overnight for major US markets.

On Wall Street the Dow Jones, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all closed around 3% off as investors fret that government bond yield curves inverse, where short-term returns are better than longer term ones.

Like stock markets, oil prices have also headed downwards with Brent crude trading 0.30% lower at $59.30. West Texas Intermediate is off 0.11% at $55.17.

The pound ticked higher on the dollar this morning, up 0.14% at $1.2076, while sterling is 0.10% ahead of the euro at €1.0836.

EX-DIVIDENDS DRAG

Resources and banking stocks act as the biggest corporate brake to UK markets on Thursday as sector heavyweights Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB), Anglo American (AAL) and Ferrexpo (FXPO) join HSBC (HSBA), the UK’s largest bank, in going ex-dividend, where new investors will lose the right to the next dividend.

Other big ex-dividend stocks today include Pearson (PSN), Aviva (AV.), Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) and Ashtead (AHT).

Gambling group GVC (GVC), the owner of the Ladbrokes and Coral betting shop chains, upgraded its outlook on profits as strong performance of its online business was expected to offset any potential costs associated with the new sports-betting licences in Germany.

The company now anticipates full year 2019 earnings within a £650m to £670m range, lifting the share price by 5.5% to 577p.

Going the other way was Kaz Minerals (KAZ), which has told investors that profits fell in the first half of the year on lower revenues as the price of copper was hurt by weaker demand.

For the six months to 30 June, earnings fell to $620m from $690 million and revenues fell to $1,052m from $1,098m. Kaz shares slump more than 11% to 439.2p.

ELSEWHERE ON THE MARKETS

FTSE 250 paving specialist Marshalls (MSLH) said it was confident of ‘at least’ meeting expectations after first-half profits climbed 14% thanks to an uptick in sales to the public sector and commercial end market.

Shares in the company ticked up 0.8% to 620p.

Transport operator FirstGroup (FGP) said it had appointed David Martin as chairman with immediate effect. The nerws sent shares in the bus and trains operator rallying 5%-plus to 120.6p.

Martin, the former chief executive of Arriva, began his career in the transport industry in 1986. He was appointed to the board of Arriva in 1998 with specific responsibility for international development, before taking over the leadership of the company in 2006.

Murray International Trust (MYI) said its performance in the first half of the year fell short of its benchmark amid rising geopolitical uncertainty and trade tensions.

For the six months to 30 June 2019 net asset value total return increased by 10.6%, below the total return of 15.5% for the company's benchmark, which is a combination of 40% of the FTSE World UK and 60% of the FTSE World ex-UK indices.

But the shares manage to make rough 1% gains to £11.26 as the popular retail investor trust finds support.

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Issue Date: 15 Aug 2019