LONDON MARKETS: U.K. Stocks Waver As Whitbread Slides On Costa Concerns

By Sara Sjolin, 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 seesawed around the flatline on Tuesday, with shares of Whitbread PLC leading decliners after the company's earnings report sparked concerns about its coffee chain Costa.

The FTSE 100 index was marginally lower at 7,524.20, on course for another third straight day with moves smaller than 0.1%.

The muted trade has come 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 4.7% on Tuesday after reporting a rise in group sales and revenue, but a slowdown in like-for-like sales growth for its Costa high-street coffee chain.

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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 1% after the wealth manager said funds under management jumped 20% in the third quarter.

Anglo American PLC (AAL.LN) picked up 0.5% 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 were also rising in London as copper jumped 1%, but other metals struggled for direction. Shares of Antofagasta PLC (ANTO.LN) rose 1.2% and Glencore (GLEN.LN) added 0.6%.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 24, 2017 04:15 ET (08:15 GMT)