LONDON MARKETS: U.K. Stocks In Holding Pattern Ahead Of Construction Update

By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Pound flat after Monday's tumble

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U.K. stocks were struggling for direction on Tuesday, as traders waited for the latest update on the British construction sector, a day after manufacturing data disappointed and sent the pound sharply lower.

The FTSE 100 index was marginally lower at 7,436.67, but was swinging between small gains and losses. A loss on Tuesday would break a four-session win streak for the London benchmark, after it closed Monday at the highest level since Aug. 9 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/uk-travel-stocks-lead-ftse-100-to-3-week-higher-after-monarch-collapse-2017-10-02).

Economic news: The U.K. construction purchasing managers' index for September is forecast to come in at 50.9, from 51.1 in August, according to FactSet. The PMI report is scheduled for release at 9:30 a.m. London Time, or 4:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

"Worryingly, [the August] figure is already low enough that another drop would see the construction sector teetering on the edge of contraction -- no wonder the FTSE and pound are feeling tentative," said Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex, in a note.

On Monday, a report showed the manufacturing PMI fell more than expected (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/growth-in-uk-manufacturing-slows-in-september-2017-10-02) in September, although the sector still remained in expansion territory. The pound stumbled 0.9% after the data on Monday, and was largely flat on Tuesday at around $1.3275.

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Stock movers: Shares of Ferguson PLC (FERG.LN) posted the biggest gain on Tuesday, rising 3.7%. The distributor of plumbing and heating products, formerly known as Wolseley, said it is initiating a GBP500 million share-buyback program, after profit jumped (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ferguson-profit-up-declares-500-mln-buyback-2017-10-03) in the fiscal year to July 31.

Airline stocks were also higher, adding to gains logged Monday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-airlines-take-off-after-monarch-collapse-leaves-room-for-rivals-2017-10-02) . Those came as the collapse of discount carrier Monarch Airlines (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/monarch-airlines-collapses-leaving-110000-passengers-without-flights-2017-10-02) was seen as easing competition for rivals and taking pressure off price wars in the sector.

Shares of easyJet PLC (EZJ.LN) added 0.7%, International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (IAG.LN) (IAG.LN) climbed 0.2%, and in Dublin, Ryanair Holdings PLC (RYAAY) put on 0.7%.

On a downbeat note, shares of Coca-Cola HBC AG fell 1.7% after the bottler said its Chief Executive Dimitris Lois has passed away (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/coca-cola-hbc-ceo-dimitris-lois-has-died-2017-10-03).

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 03, 2017 04:11 ET (08:11 GMT)