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UK stocks rise on easing geopolitical tensions, AstraZeneca trial data


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A man shelters under an umbrella as he walks past the London Stock Exchange in London, Britain, August 24, 2015. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

By Ambar Warrick

(Reuters) -British stocks rose on Tuesday as global risk sentiment improved after reports that Moscow was withdrawing some troops near Ukraine calmed fears of a potential Russian invasion, while positive data from AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN) and strong earnings from mining company Glencore (LON:GLEN) further lifted sentiment.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 ended 1.0% higher, while mid-cap stocks added 1.1%. Both indexes had slumped nearly 2% on Monday, after the United States warned that Russia could invade Ukraine at any moment.

Defensive sectors including healthcare and consumer staples were the top performers on Tuesday.

AstraZeneca jumped 5.8%, and was the biggest boost to the FTSE 100, after positive results from a late-stage trial on the drugmaker’s prostate cancer treatment.

Glencore and BHP Group, both firms announced large dividend payouts following recent strength in commodity prices.

Glencore shares rose 1.2%, while steep losses in iron prices weighed on BHP. Chinese iron ore prices slumped as traders feared a government crackdown after Beijing warned it would act against the spread of misinformation on prices. [IRONORE/]

Strong earnings have helped local stocks weather geopolitical tensions, as well as jitters over tightening monetary policy across the globe.

“Corporate earnings in Q4 remained strong despite a multitude of inflation headwinds. The reporting season will continue to provide support, with banks, energy/ materials showing particularly strong increases in earnings,” Elisa Belgacem, senior credit strategist at Generali (MI:GASI) Investments wrote in a note.

The FTSE 100 is one of the few major stock indexes trading positive this year, as its relatively low exposure to technology firms helped it sidestep a global rout in the sector.

UK stocks rise on easing geopolitical tensions, AstraZeneca trial data

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