LONDON MARKETS: Cautious Start To Trade In U.K. Stocks After Suspected Terror Attack In Manchester

By Carla Mozee, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Election campaigning has been suspended

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U.K. stocks held to thin gains Tuesday, with a cautious start to trade in the wake of a deadly, suspected terrorist attack in Manchester.

The U.K. FTSE 100 was up 0.1% to 7,500.71, with utility and industrial shares higher, but commodity stocks were lower.

The small rise was aided in part by a pullback in the pound from nearly eight-month highs. Sterling bought $1.2972, down from $1.3000 late Monday in New York.

In focus Tuesday will be the aftermath of an explosion outside the Manchester Arena concert venue that killed 22 people, including children, and injured 59. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/death-toll-rises-to-22-in-suspected-suicide-bombing-in-manchester-2017-05-23)

"We are working closely with the national counter terrorism policing network and U.K. intelligence partners," Greater Manchester Police said. Police believe one person at the site detonated a device as people were leaving an Ariana Grande concert.

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Political campaigning before the June 8 general election in the U.K. has been suspended. The suspension comes as a lead in the polls for British Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party "continues to be eroded in favor of [Jeremy] Corbyn's Labour, with 90,000 new voters registered just yesterday," said Accendo Markets analysts in a note.

The pound had fallen below $1.30 during Monday's session as a few polls showed the Conservatives advantage over the Labour Party had been roughly halved.

In the travel and leisure sector, shares of amusement park operator Merlin Entertainments (MERL.LN) fell 1.2%. The company's parks include Legoland and Alton Towers.

Premier Inn hotel chain operator Whitbread PLC (WTB.LN) was down 0.5% but airline operators International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (IAG.LN) and easyJet PLC (EZJ.LN) rose 0.4% and 2.2%, respectively.

Security services firm G4S PLC (GFS.LN) was up 1.1% on the midcap FTSE 250 .

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 23, 2017 03:54 ET (07:54 GMT)