LONDON MARKETS: FTSE 100 Wavers As Pound Strengthens Toward $1.30

By Carla Mozee, MarketWatchFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Barratt shares rise after bright forecast

U.K. stocks were steady Wednesday, after logging four consecutive rises, as miners gained and home builder Barratt Developments got a bump after a financial update.

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The FTSE 100 was down less than 2 points at 7,340.24 after wading into positive territory at the open. The tech, consumer goods and industrial shares groups were losing the most.

Investors were keeping watch on the pound against the dollar. A stronger pound can cut into shares of multinational companies listed on the FTSE 100 that make the bulk of their profit and revenue overseas.

"Sterling bid up heavily on the open today as traders eye a potential assault on the psychologically important $1.30 handle, which if breached could yield a fresh leg higher for the pound," said Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital, in a note.

The pound was buying ( $1.2976, up from $1.2935 late Tuesday in New York. Investors are also seen as looking ahead to the Bank of England's inflation report and interest rate decision, due Thursday, for signs policy makers may be shifting closer to a rate hike.

"If [Monetary Policy Committee member] Forbes can persuade at least one other MPC member to vote for a rate hike ... then we could see sterling bid up well clear of $1.30," Wilson said.

Miners on the move: The FTSE 100's climb of 0.6% in the prior session was aided by gains for mining shares, which have recently been hurt amid a tumble in prices of industrial metals.

Mining shares were mostly higher on Wednesday, even as Chinese data showed that a decline in commodity prices weighed on Chinese producer prices in April. (

Anglo American PLC (AAL.LN) up 0.7%, iron ore producer Rio Tinto PLC (RIO) (RIO) (RIO) tacking on 0.6% and BHP Billiton PLC (BLT.LN) (BHP.AU) (BHP.AU) up 0.5%.

But precious metals miner Fresnillo PLC (FRES.LN) was down 0.3%.

Stock movers: Barratt Developments PLC (BDEV.LN) shares drove 4.2% higher. The property developer said fiscal 2017 pretax profit will come in at top end of analysts' expectations ( of between 675 million pounds ($847.2 million) and GBP733 million.

ITV PLC (ITV.LN) was down 1.7% after the broadcaster posted a fall in first-quarter revenue (, but kept its full-year guidance unchanged.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 10, 2017 04:08 ET (08:08 GMT)