LONDON MARKETS: U.K. Stocks Edge Higher As Fears Over Irma, North Korea Ease

By Carla Mozee and Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Insurers move higher as Hurricane Irma's impact is less than feared; AstraZeneca up on trial news

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U.K. stocks rose Monday, with insurers getting a boost as the impact of Hurricane Irma on Florida appeared not as severe as anticipated, and as fears over North Korea's bomb ambitions eased.

The FTSE 100 pushed up 0.5% to close at 7,413.59. That was enough to recover from a 0.3% loss on Friday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ftse-100-falls-headed-for-weekly-loss-as-miners-pull-back-2017-09-08) when investors fretted about the potential U.S. damage from Irma, forecast to be potentially a Category 5 storm, and the prospect of another missile test by Pyongyang.

But investors' appetite for assets seen as more risky seemed to be returning after that bomb test failed to happen Saturday on North Korea's founding day celebrations, as had been suggested.

And while Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida as a Category 4 storm, it was serially downgraded to Category 1 by early Monday morning, after skirting Tampa (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/worst-case-scenario-as-hurricane-irma-makes-landfall-in-florida-2017-09-10). Miami also avoided a direct hit before the hurricane tore through the southwest and west coast areas of Florida.

"Investors are feeling somewhat relieved today after the most dire predictions in terms of a disaster caused by Hurricane Irma have evaporated," said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at ThinkMarkets UK.

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Read:Global stocks at all-time high and 3 other charts that show the return of upbeat investors (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/global-stocks-at-all-time-high-and-3-other-charts-that-show-the-return-of-upbeat-investors-2017-09-11)

Insurance stocks in the U.K. and across Europe gained as Irma's threat lessened. Prudential PLC (PRU.LN) put on 1.6%, and on the midcap FTSE 250 , shares of Lancashire Holdings Ltd. (LRE.LN) shot up 10%, Beazley PLC (BEZ.LN) jumped 4.3%, and Hiscox Ltd. (HSX.LN) leapt 3.4%.

Stock movers: Shares of AstraZeneca PLC (AZN.LN) (AZN.LN) rose 2.1% after the pharmaceutical company said it's had positive results from two trials for lung cancer treatments (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/astrazeneca-positive-results-in-2-cancer-trials-2017-09-11).

Associated British Foods PLC (ABF.LN) (ABF.LN) raised its outlook for underlying growth as it expects stronger profit performance from its fast-fashion chain Primark. But shares of the company, which also makes food ingredients, fell 5%.

British Land Co. (BLND.LN) picked up 1.7% after Deutsche Bank upgraded its rating on the property developer to buy from hold. "Recent disposals above book value and subsequent buybacks highlight good capital management, and we increase our forecasts to reflect our positive outlook," said research analyst Rob Jones in a note.

Carillion PLC shares (CLLN.LN) dropped 1.6% on the FTSE 250 after the struggling outsourcing and construction company said Finance Director Zafar Khan has left the company with immediate effect, with other top executives also set to leave.

Brexit watch: Investors will keep watch on developments from the U.K. parliament on Monday, where lawmakers are debating elements of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill. They are expected to vote on the bill, which overturns the legislation that took the U.K. into the European Union, either late Monday or early Tuesday.

Included in the Brexit bill are measures to convert existing EU laws into U.K. law, which some say hand the government "Henry VIII" powers to amend laws without parliamentary scrutiny.

The pound bought $1.3171, not far off from $1.3197 late Friday in New York.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 11, 2017 12:12 ET (16:12 GMT)