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London stocks higher as packaging firms lead the way

London stocks are higher after a positive close on Wall Street helped by a good set of US corporate earnings Monday. Signals that China and the US are about to restart talks about disputed trade issues and that the US might alleviate some pressure on China’s technology giant Huawei also helped lift the index.

Packaging firms led the way higher today after South African firm Mondi told markets it expects its half year earnings to be higher than last year. Dublin-based packaging company Smurfit Kappa and peer Smiths DS also followed suit.

Retailers slipped to the bottom of the FTSE following data showing that British grocery sales fell for the first time since the summer of 2016. Worst hit was Tesco with a 3.19% drop. Premier Inn owner Whitbread also continued to lose ground, building on Monday’s losses triggered by news that hedge funds are taking short positions on the firm.

Sterling is 0.3% lower as the currency market awaits the final tally of the Conservative Party leadership election due out shortly after 11.00. Sterling’s slide continues to reflect concerns that a Johnson win over Hunt would result in a messy Brexit despite the fact that Parliamentarians have been putting legal breaks in place to prevent this outcome. A lot of the weakness has already been discounted and if Johnson does win the pound may continue to slide but not actually crash as some market watchers seem to expect.

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