LONDON MARKETS: FTSE 100 Inches Higher As U.K. Growth Data Come Into Focus

By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Dixons Carphone plunge 25% after profit warning

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U.K. stocks moved higher on Thursday, but with investors remaining cautious ahead of a fresh reading on second-quarter economic growth and the summit of global central bankers in Jackson Hole.

Meanwhile, shares in Dixons Carphone PLC (DC.LN) plummeted 30% after the retailer warned on profit, citing challenges to its mobile phone business.

The FTSE 100 index added 0.2% to 7,400.43. The London benchmark on Wednesday closed marginally higher, as a slump in the pound helped offset a broader European selloff. Sterling weakness tends to boost shares of the FTSE's many multinational companies with earnings in other currencies.

The pound on Thursday was trading in tight ranges ahead of a second-estimate report on gross domestic product in the second quarter. The U.K. currency bought $1.2795, compared with $1.2799 late Wednesday in New York. Against the euro, sterling fetched EUR1.0853, up from EUR1.1808 on Wednesday.

The GDP data are forecast to show economic growth of 0.3% in the past quarter -- unchanged from the initial estimate, but up from 0.2% in the first three months of the year. The report is due at 9:30 a.m. London time, or 4:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

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"An improvement on Q1 was the least of expectations and that is what we got, but only from 0.2% to 0.3%, which was a little disappointing given the significant improvements seen in a lot of the survey data, and the continued decline in unemployment," said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, in a note.

In other economic news, U.K. car manufacturing rose 7.8% in July, industry body the SMMT said (https://www.smmt.co.uk/2017/08/british-car-manufacturing-rebounds-july-new-models-hit-production-lines/).

Traders were also looking ahead to the annual gathering of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyo., which kicks off on Thursday and runs through Saturday. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen will speak on Friday, with markets watching for hints on the future path for monetary policy.

Read:Here's what investors will be watching when Draghi, Yellen speak at Jackson Hole (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-what-investors-will-be-watching-when-draghi-yellen-speak-at-jackson-hole-2017-08-22)

Stock movers: CRH PLC (CRG.DB) (CRG.DB) climbed 3.9% after the building-materials company said it's selling its Americas Distribution business to Beacon Roofing Supply Inc. (BECN) for $2.63 billion in cash (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/crh-to-sell-us-distribution-unit-in-26b-deal-2017-08-24). Additionally, the Dublin-based company said it will buy Fels, a German lime and aggregates business, for EUR600 million.

WPP PLC (WPP.LN) (WPP.LN) inched 0.2% higher, after an 11% slump on Wednesday when the advertising giant issued a disappointing growth outlook.

On the FTSE 250 index , Dixons Carphone PLC (DC.LN) plunged 30% after the mobile phone and electrical retailer warned fiscal 2018 profit would be much lower than last year (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dixons-carphone-warns-on-2018-profit-2017-08-24), blaming challenging conditions in the U.K. mobile phone market.

The FTSE 250 index dropped 0.2% to 19,697.27.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 24, 2017 03:54 ET (07:54 GMT)