Construction activity at weakest in nearly a year
U.K. stocks closed lower Wednesday, with commodity shares in the red aftermining heavyweight Rio Tinto PLC posted underlying earnings that fell short of expectations.
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Standard Chartered PLC's downbeat news about dividends prompted a selloff in the lender's stock, adding to the pressure on the market's blue-chip barometer.
The FTSE 100 lost 0.2% to end at 7,411.43, erasing part of Tuesday's climb of 0.7% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ftse-100-marches-higher-as-bp-rolls-royce-shares-advance-2017-08-01).
Standard Chartered (STAN.LN) said it's not ready to begin paying dividends again (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/standard-chartered-dividends-remain-suspended-2017-08-02), but that it will reconsider at the end of the year. Shares were yanked down 6.1% for the FTSE's biggest loss. The Asia-focused bank, which has been working on resetting its business after a slowdown in growth, posted an increase in first-half profit and revenue.
Shares of rival Asia-focused bank HSBC Holdings PLC (HSBA.LN) finished down less than 0.1%. That lender this week said it would launch another $2 billion in share buybacks (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/hsbc-to-launch-2-billion-buyback-as-profit-up-57-2017-07-31) after second-quarter profit leapt 57%.
Resource stocks: Rio Tinto shares (RIO) (RIO) (RIO) fell 2.8%, suffering the FTSE 100's third-biggest loss. The iron ore producer's first-half underlying earnings rose to $3.9 billion, but that was below a Thomson Reuters consensus estimate of $4.19 billion. Rio did say it will buy back a further $1 billion in shares (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/rio-tinto-ups-buyback-plans-as-profit-jumps-2017-08-02) and that debt has been reduced.
Other mining shares traded lower, with iron ore miner BHP Billiton PLC (BLT.LN) (BHP.AU) (BHP.AU) down 1.1%. Glencore PLC (GLEN.LN) shares fell 1.2%, and copper miner Antofagasta PLC (ANTO.LN) gave up 1.4%.
Other stock movers: RSA Insurance Group PLC (RSA.LN) fell 0.5% even as the company said first-half earnings rose to GBP196 million (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/rsa-insurance-profit-up-amid-restructuring-2017-08-02)($259 million), aided by its restructuring program.
BAE Systems PLC shares (BA.LN)(BA.LN) flipped down 2.7%. Shares had been up about 3% after the weapons maker posted a 11% increase in first-half underlying earnings before interest, taxes and amortization to GBP945 million.
Off the FTSE 100, shares of William Hill PLC (WMH.LN) rallied 6.1%. The British bookmaker's profit rose in the first half (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/william-hill-profit-rises-sees-progress-in-2017-2017-08-02), and the FTSE 250 component struck an optimistic tone about progress for the year.
Economic data: Construction activity in July marked in its weakest performance since August 2016, with IHS Markit/CIPS construction PMI coming in at 51.9 in July. That widely missed the 54.3 estimate from a FactSet survey of economists.
Lower volumes of commercial building and slower housing-activity expansion hit the index. As well, a reduction in new business volumes hurt job creation and input buying, according to the survey.
But the pound eventually drifted higher after the report, trading hands at $1.3233 compared with $1.3205 late Tuesday in New York.
Read:Confusion reigns for investors ahead of Bank of England's 'Super Thursday' (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/confusion-reigns-for-investors-ahead-of-bank-of-englands-super-thursday-2017-08-01)
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 02, 2017 12:08 ET (16:08 GMT)