London Markets: U.K.’s FTSE 100 falls as traders track Trump’s headaches, Brexit talks

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The U.K.’s main stock index lost ground Wednesday, as global markets faced fresh uncertainty following big legal setbacks for two former associates of U.S. President Donald Trump.

How markets are performing

The FTSE 100 UKX, -0.41% dropped 0.4% to 7,534.80, after falling Tuesday for the first time in four sessions, when it was dragged down by losses for heavyweight miner BHP Billiton PLC BLT, -0.58%

The British blue-chip gauge is showing a decline of 2% for the year to date.

The pound GBPUSD, -0.1395% was buying $1.2895, little changed from $1.2901 late Tuesday in New York.

What’s moving markets

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort late Tuesday was found guilty on eight charges including tax fraud, and the president’s former lawyer Michael Cohen said he violated campaign-finance law at Trump’s direction.

The developments played out in less than 60 minutes, with the Drudge Report website, popular with conservatives, labeling it “Trump Hell Hour.”

Investors are also tracking the U.K.’s latest negotiations with the European Union over leaving the trade bloc.

Don’t miss: Gear up for a no-deal Brexit: 5 areas to watch

And read: A top London startup’s CEO flags the biggest Brexit threat to his industry

What are strategists saying?

• The legal woes for former Trump associates “could well see investors look to take some profits today after a fairly mixed session in Asia and a lower open in Europe,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, in a note.

• There has been “more relief for the pound, with GBPUSD now pushing $1.29,” said Neil Wilson, chief market analyst for Markets.com, in a note. There has been “no significant breakthrough seen in the latest round of Brexit talks, but the no-deal chatter is less to the fore,” Wilson added.

Stocks in focus

On the upside, shares in Persimmon PLC PSN, +1.39% gained 1.4% as traders continued to react to the home builder’s first-half results, which were released Tuesday. Shares dipped 0.2% Tuesday, as the company posted a 13% rise in pretax profit and a 5% gain in sales.

Off the FTSE 100, shares in Avast PLC AVST, +3.48% traded 3.5% higher after the cybersecurity company said its first-half profit rose on strong performance in its consumer desktop business. Avast also raised its margin guidance.

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