LONDON MARKETS: FTSE 100 Lifted By Shares Of Miners, HSBC

By Carla Mozee, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Benchmark set to close July with a monthly gain

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Blue-chip stocks in the U.K. scored gains Monday, with banking heavyweight HSBC PLC and shares of miners advancing on the last day of trade in July.

The FTSE 100 rose 0.7% to 7,415.96, and a win Monday would be the first in three sessions. The benchmark was on track for a monthly rise of 1.5%, coming after a 2.8% drop in June.

HSBC (HSBA.LN) (HSBA.LN) was perched at the top of the FTSE 100 on Monday as its shares climbed 3.4%. The London-based, Asia-focused lender said it will launch another $2 billion in share buybacks (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/hsbc-to-launch-2-billion-buyback-as-profit-up-57-2017-07-31) after second-quarter profit leapt 57% to $3.87 billion.

"HSBC's exposure to China during a time of expanded government stimulus and Europe experiencing its best growth since the financial crisis has helped keep the bank's restructuring plan well on track," said LCG head of research Jasper Lawler in a note.

Shares of fellow Asian-focused lender Standard Chartered PLC were up 1.5% but other banks were mostly lower, with Barclays PLC (BCS) (BCS) off 0.6% and Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LLOY.LN) (LLOY.LN) down 0.4%

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China boost for miners: Meanwhile, mining shares pushed higher after Chinese data released early Monday showed growth in construction activity rose to its highest level since December 2013, thanks to government-backed infrastructure spending. China is a major buyer of industrial and precious metals.

Shares of iron ore producers BHP Billiton PLC (BLT.LN) (BHP.AU) (BHP.AU) and Rio Tinto PLC (RIO) (RIO) (RIO) tacked on 1.9% respectively, and Anglo American PLC (AAL.LN) bulked up by 2.1%.

Also, commodity producer and trader Glencore PLC (GLEN.LN) was up 1.9%, as were shares of copper miner Antofagasta PLC (ANTO.LN) .

Silver miner Fresnillo PLC (FRES.LN) was up 0.7%, while Randgold Resources PLC (RRS.LN) put on a more modest 0.3%.

But overall, China's gauge of manufacturing activity declined to 51.4 in July (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/sluggish-china-factory-data-may-signal-slowdown-2017-07-31), compared with expectations of a 51.6 reading from a Wall Street Journal survey of analysts. That downtick was seen by some economists as the first and expected sign that the economy is slowing after the government began to try to rein in a hot property market and rising corporate debt.

Cigarette pull: Tobacco stocks remained lower after Friday afternoon's announcement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that it's proposing a plan for nicotine levels in cigarettes to be lowered to nonaddictive levels (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/fda-says-it-plans-to-lower-nicotine-levels-in-cigarettes-to-non-addictive-levels-2017-07-28).

Lucky Strike maker British American Tobacco Inc. (BATS.LN) was off 1.9%, and Imperial Brands (IMBBY), which makes Salem, Kool and Winston products, slid 4.4%.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 31, 2017 04:18 ET (08:18 GMT)