(Reuters) – UK shares opened lower on Monday, as multinational stocks tumbled on reports U.S. President Donald Trump privately discussed firing the head of the Federal Reserve and a partial U.S. government shutdown weighed on investor sentiment.
The FTSE 100 <.FTSE> was down 0.8 percent and the mid-cap index <.FTMC> was 0.5 percent lower by 0828 GMT. The bourses were due to close early ahead of Christmas.
Dragging down the UK’s main index <.FTSE> were companies that have a greater international presence, with Imperial Brands <IMB.L> dropping over 3 percent and British American Tobacco <BATS.L> 1.8 percent lower.
Diageo <DGE.L>, the world’s biggest drinks marker, and consumer goods giant Unilever <ULVR.L> were down 1.6 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.
All constituents in the consumer sector were in the red in early deals on the blue-chip index.
WPP <WPP.L>, the world’s largest advertising firm, fell nearly 3 percent to the bottom of the blue-chip index.
Most global markets were hit following reports that Trump discussed firing Fed chair Jerome Powell, a move that would likely further rile financial markets.
That added to pre-existing nerves over political stability in the world’s largest economy after a partial federal government shutdown as Democrats rejected Trump’s demand for more funds for a wall on the border with Mexico.
Among the UK mid-caps, gambling software company Playtech <PTEC.L> slid 6.3 percent to its lowest in over six years after flagging that a change in Italian gambling tax law would hit its 2019 core earnings.
Oil heavyweights Shell <RDSa.L> and BP <BP.L> managed to eke out some gains as crude prices rose on signs the recent price plunge may start crimping supply from the United States.
Martin Sorrell’s S4 Capital <SFOR.L> was flat on its first trading day on the London Stock Exchange’s main market.
For a graphic on .FTSE & .FTMC 25D RSI, see – https://tmsnrt.rs/2Adh66i
(Reporting by Muvija M and Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Potter)