Tobacco picks FTSE up from a five-month low - London Report

BRITAIN’S main share index bounced up off five-month lows yesterday, boosted by firmer tobacco stocks and a broader stabilisation in equity markets which have slumped in recent sessions on fears over Greece.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index closed at 6,710.10 points – flat in percentage terms but above an intraday low of 6,656.90 points which marked its worst level since late January.

Many investors remained cautious due to a deadlock in Greece’s debt talks, but some traders moved in to use the initial market pullback to buy up stocks for relatively low prices.

A stabilisation in European bond markets also lifted stock markets off their earlier lows, while economic stimulus measures from major world central banks have cushioned the blows to European stock markets from the problems in Greece.

“I am probably going to look to buy the dips. Whenever we’ve seen a sell-off, it's been quickly bought into,” said Jeremy Steinson, head of trading at Killik & Co.

British American Tobacco rose 2.9 per cent after being upgraded to “buy” from “outperform” by brokerage CLSA.

The gains at British American Tobacco also lifted rival Imperial Tobacco by 2.2 per cent.

However, mining stocks lost ground with copper prices tumbling to three-month lows, partly due to the impact of a stronger US dollar.

The prospect of the US Federal Reserve signalling that its first rate increase in nearly a decade will come in September pushed up the value of the US dollar. A stronger dollar makes dollar-denominated commodities such as copper more expensive for non-US companies, and can be negative for miners. Higher US rates can also boost returns on US Treasuries, increasing their relative appeal over stocks.

Among small caps, APR Energy slumped 25.6 per cent after warning its 2015 results would be significantly below market expectations.

The FTSE is some six per cent below a record high of 7,122.74 points reached in late April, while it remains up two per cent since the start of 2015.

Greek shares fell 4.8 per cent and the country’s banking index dropped 8.9 per cent as Greece and its creditors hardened their stances after a breakdown in talks aimed at preventing a default and possible euro exit. The leader of Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD), Thomas Oppermann, said he saw no willingness from the Greek government to reach an agreement.

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