Upbeat earnings lift FTSE 100 as lockdowns, Brexit uncertainty weigh

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A worker shelters from the rain as he passes the London Stock Exchange in the City of London

By Devik Jain

(Reuters) – London’s FTSE 100 edged higher on Tuesday, boosted by a clutch of upbeat quarterly corporate earnings, although gains were capped by concerns over tougher coronavirus lockdowns in parts of England and Brexit-related uncertainty.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 () rose 0.3%, with shares of Dettol and Lysol maker Reckitt Benckiser (L:) jumping 2.6% after it reported a bigger-than-expected rise in third-quarter sales.

The domestically focussed mid-cap added 0.4%, led by a 6.1% jump for soft drinks maker Britvic Plc (L:) as it forecast annual adjusted operating profit ahead of market expectations.

New business restrictions due to surging COVID-19 infections and a stalemate over Brexit have pressured UK markets this month, with analysts also warning of a further slowdown in domestic economic growth.

A junior business minister said on Tuesday Britain saw no point in talking with the European Union until the bloc starts to treat Britain as a sovereign state, dashing earlier optimism that negotiations could carry on.

“Markets have been bracing themselves for a no-deal exit for some time, or certainly accepting that as a distinct possibility,” said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

A recent Reuters poll found the Bank of England was likely to supplement its quantitative easing war chest next month to offer more support to a faltering economic recovery.

Asian markets were also subdued due to concerns over an impasse in a new U.S stimulus package ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election.

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In company news, Bellway Plc (L:) gained 0.9% after the homebuilder reported a 43% year-on-year jump in its forward order book and resumed dividend payment as demand for homes picked up after the initial round of lockdowns.

Petra Diamonds Ltd (L:) slipped 4% after the diamond miner abandoned plans to sell the business in favour of a debt-for-equity restructuring.

Energy (), mining () and insurance () stocks were among the biggest decliners of the day.

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