The FTSE 100 opened lower 0.3% at 7,852.81 with most of the European markets also starting the day on a slightly lower note.
The merry-go-round of China US tariff issues started again Tuesday with President Trump saying that he is not really happy with the results of the China-US trade negotiations last week which led to an agreement on the US trade deficit with China. He also warned that the summit with North Korea may be delayed, sending Asian stocks lower. The Nikkei fell 1.18%, the Hang Seng was down 1.23% and the Shanghai Composite traded 1.38% lower.
Banking shares are in focus today after the Financial Times reported that Barclays has explored a number of options to shrink down its investment bank, including a merger with a rival lender such as Standard Chartered. The bank was put under pressure by activist investor Edward Bramson and has also looked into options such as larger shareholder returns and expanding its UK business. Although Barclays quickly refuted the report Standard Chartered shares still traded up 1.94% at 781.30.
Shares in water utility Severn Trent rose 0.49% to 2,071 although the company reported an 8% decline in full year pretax profits to £302.4 million. The firm’s underlying profit before tax was £541 million, slightly below the £543 million forecast by analysts. The company blamed some of the decline on its bio-resources unit but also said that it plans a further £100 million in preparation for its next five-year asset management period. The utility firm says it is aiming to pay out a final dividend of 51.92 pence a share this year, up from 48.90 pence a share a year earlier.
In contrast shares in Indian mining giant Vedanta fell 4.22% on opening although the company made a net profit of $235.6 million in the year ended March 31 from a net loss last year. The firm’s production levels were at record highs in several of its units including its zinc and silver operation in India. Vedanta plans to pay out a final dividend of 41 cents a share, taking the total dividend for the year to 65 cents a share.