LONDON MARKETS: U.K. Stocks End Slightly Higher, Weighed By Whitbread's Slide On Costa Concerns

By Sara Sjolin and Victor Reklaitis, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

'Slowing like-for-like sales at Costa in the U.K. are a drag,' analyst says

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U.K. stocks closed with a tiny gain on Tuesday, with shares of Whitbread PLC keeping a lid on gains after the company's earnings report sparked concerns about its coffee chain Costa.

The FTSE 100 index rose less than 0.1% to end at 7,526.54, delivering a third straight session featuring a move smaller than 0.1%.

The muted trade came as traders absorb the earnings season and developments in the U.K.'s Brexit talks with Brussels. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday sought to reassure lawmakers that there is a "degree of confidence" that progress will be made in the divorce proceedings before the next EU summit in December.

Her comments come after EU leaders at a summit last week decided that insufficient progress has been made to move talks along to the second phase, which would cover important trade agreements.

Earnings: Shares of Whitbread PLC (WTB.LN) lost 4.8% on Tuesday after reporting an overall rise in revenue, but a slowdown in like-for-like sales growth for its Costa high-street coffee chain. The stock was the FTSE 100's biggest loser.

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"More strong sales and profit growth from Whitbread as anticipated, but it's the same old story by and large--Premier Inn is expanding steadily and accounts for the lion's share of profits, while slowing like-for-like sales at Costa in the U.K. are a drag," said Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital, in a note.

On an upbeat note, shares of St. James's Place PLC (STJ.LN) rose 2% after the wealth manager said funds under management jumped 20% in the third quarter.

Anglo American PLC (AAL.LN) picked up 0.1% after the miner said its third-quarter output rose 6% on a copper-equivalent basis, but also lowered its full-year guidance for platinum.

Other miners also rose in London as copper put on 0.3%, but other metals lost ground. Shares of Antofagasta PLC (ANTO.LN) rose 2.8% and Glencore (GLEN.LN) added 1.4%.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 24, 2017 12:12 ET (16:12 GMT)