London stocks scraped out a gain on Friday, but barely, as Rio Tinto led the mining sector lower and Burberry led on the downside despite sales returning to levels not seen since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The FTSE 100 index UKX, +0.37% barely rose 0.5% to 7,014.43 against a backdrop of mixed global markets. The index has dropped 1.5% for the week.
Shares of heavily weighted Rio Tinto RIO, +0.16% RIO, +0.16% fell nearly 2%, after the world’s second-biggest miner said it shipped 12% less iron ore from its Australian mining hub in the second quarter of 2021 versus a year earlier. The company expects annual exports to be at the low end of an earlier estimate, following above-average rainfall, operational shutdowns and COVID-19-fueled labor shortages.
Shares of fellow miners Anglo American AAL, +1.15%, Glencore GLEN, +1.03% GLNCY, -1.03% and BHP Group BHP, +0.75% BHP, +2.33% were also down.
Shares of Burberry BRBY, -0.17%, the biggest decliner on the day, fell over 4%, after the luxury-goods maker reported a 26% rise in full-price comparable sales for the 13 weeks ended June 26 compared with the same period a year prior, lifted by a 90% rise in retail comparable-store sales versus last year in a rebound from the pandemic.
Newer, younger clients helped drive sales, the company said, but analysts were focused on several points of concern, including the year-end departure of Chief Executive Officer Marco Gobbetti, which will be a “big obstacle waiting to trip up the company on this catwalk of recovery.”
“He has been seen as the turnaround czar for Burberry and investors are questioning the company’s ability to keep driving through the strategic turnaround without him in the front row,” said Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, in a note to clients.
Luca Solca and Maria Meita of AB Bernstein said they anticipate “historic growth results in the coming days” from the luxury-goods sector, which faces an easy quarterly comparable from the COVID-19 pandemic. “Whether this will be
enough to move the share prices is a completely different matter: luxury goods stocks have surged during 1H21 in anticipation of these strong results,” said the pair.
Another heavyweight decliner was drug company AstraZeneca AZN, +1.04% AZN, +0.70%, which said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Cardiovascular and Renal Drugs Advisory Committee had voted against the approval of a new drug application for roxadustat, used to treat anemia caused by chronic kidney disease. Shares of the second-biggest heavily weighted stock in the index fell 1.4%.
UBS analyst Michael Leuchten said the investment bank is currently modeling around $600 million in revenue for roxadustat in the U.S., or 2% of group sales. “Given the collaboration with FibroGen we don’t expect these revenues to be more
profitable than group average. Should the product not be approved in the U.S., the
impact would not be significant,” he said, in a note to clients.
Recent volatility centers on the Fed's plans for tighter monetary policy but it is looking more likely that the market has already factored that in.
Barbara Kollmeyer is an editor for MarketWatch in Madrid. Follow her on Twitter @bkollmeyer.