LONDON MARKETS: U.K. Stocks In Holding Pattern Ahead Of Construction Update
By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch
Pound flat after Monday's tumble
U.K. stocks were struggling for direction on Tuesday, as traders waited for the latest update on the British construction sector, a day after manufacturing data disappointed and sent the pound sharply lower.
The FTSE 100 index was marginally lower at 7,436.67, but was swinging between small gains and losses. A loss on Tuesday would break a four-session win streak for the London benchmark, after it closed Monday at the highest level since Aug. 9 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/uk-travel-stocks-lead-ftse-100-to-3-week-higher-after-monarch-collapse-2017-10-02).
Economic news: The U.K. construction purchasing managers' index for September is forecast to come in at 50.9, from 51.1 in August, according to FactSet. The PMI report is scheduled for release at 9:30 a.m. London Time, or 4:30 a.m. Eastern Time.
"Worryingly, [the August] figure is already low enough that another drop would see the construction sector teetering on the edge of contraction -- no wonder the FTSE and pound are feeling tentative," said Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex, in a note.
On Monday, a report showed the manufacturing PMI fell more than expected (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/growth-in-uk-manufacturing-slows-in-september-2017-10-02) in September, although the sector still remained in expansion territory. The pound stumbled 0.9% after the data on Monday, and was largely flat on Tuesday at around $1.3275.
Stock movers: Shares of Ferguson PLC (FERG.LN) posted the biggest gain on Tuesday, rising 3.7%. The distributor of plumbing and heating products, formerly known as Wolseley, said it is initiating a GBP500 million share-buyback program, after profit jumped (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ferguson-profit-up-declares-500-mln-buyback-2017-10-03) in the fiscal year to July 31.