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Glum BHP, Capita earnings dent London stocks; Persimmon jumps

08/18/2020 | 12:04pm

London stocks fell on Tuesday as lower oil prices and lacklustre earnings reports from miner BHP and outsourcer Capita sparked a round of profit-taking, while housebuilder Persimmon jumped after reinstating its dividend.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 was down 1%, wiping out gains made in the previous session, while the mid-cap FTSE 250 slipped 0.9%. [O/R]

Miner BHP Group among the biggest weights on the FTSE 100, slipped 2.7% after reporting a lower-than-expected annual profit. The wider mining index fell 1%, but was still among the handful of FTSE sub-indexes close to breaking even for the year.

Aggressive fiscal and monetary stimulus has supported a bout of buying for global equities, with Wall Street's S&P 500 index touching an all-time high on Tuesday. Analysts say they expect a "buy everything" rally to push major benchmarks even higher.

After China's central bank said on Monday it would pump more money into financial markets, investors are betting on another dose of fiscal stimulus from the U.S. government. [MKTS/GLOB]

Persimmon jumped 8% after it said it would reinstate its dividend after an "excellent start" to the second half of the year but posted a plunge in first-half profit.

"Persimmon's decision to reinstate the dividend ... shows both confidence and caution. Confidence because the group thinks it can safely return cash to shareholders, caution because management clearly doesn't think the investment opportunities are especially compelling at the moment," said William Ryder, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

Capita Plc plunged 20.3% after posting a 28.5 million pound ($37.44 million) loss for the first half of 2020.

Retailer Marks & Spencer slid about 5% after saying it planned to cut a further 7,000 jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

(Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V and Alison Williams)

By Sagarika Jaisinghani and Shreyashi Sanyal

© Reuters 2021
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