FTSE 100 snaps three-day losing streak, Melrose shines

By Khushi Singh and Siddarth S

(Reuters) -The UK’s FTSE 100 closed higher on Thursday as aerospace supplier Melrose Industries rose on an upbeat profit outlook, while China’s trade slump in August hurt mining stocks, capping gains.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index gained 0.2%, snapping a three-day losing streak, with a 5.5% jump in shares of Melrose Industries leading gains after the company also said its CEO and co-founder Simon Peckham will step down in March.

The aerospace and defence index, which houses Melrose, added 2.8% to hit an all-time high.

Data showed China’s exports and imports fell in August as the twin pressures of sagging overseas demand and weak consumer spending squeezed businesses.

Commodity-related stocks fell, with metal miners shedding 2.2% to lead sectoral declines.

“There are some real economic issues in China, but investor disappointment is largely the result of market expectations getting ahead of reality,” said Steve Sosnick, chief strategist at Interactive Brokers.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 index fell 0.4%, dented by a 26.0% plunge in shares of Synthomer after the polymer maker forecast no recovery in customer demand before the end of this year.

Shares of Pets at Home <PETSP.L> dropped 9.4% after UK’s Competition and Markets Authority launched a vet services market review.

Motor and home insurer Direct Line Insurance Group rose 15.8% after it said it expects better operating profit in 2024. Broader non-life insurers gained 1.3%.

Cardboard maker DS Smith and insurers Admiral and Prudential fell between 1.2% and 3.5% as they traded ex-dividend.

Across the Atlantic, data showed U.S. jobless claims hit their lowest level since February, fuelling concerns about interest rates staying elevated for longer.

Central banks of Europe, the UK and the United States will hold their monetary policy meetings later this month as market participants hope for an end to the global tightening cycle.

The Bank of England is expected to raise the Bank Rate to 5.50% in the upcoming meeting.

(Reporting by Siddarth S and Khushi Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu, Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Paul Simao)