London close: FTSE clings to minor resources-led gains ahead of Fed rate decision
(ShareCast News) - Shares in London clung to minor gains throughout Wednesday with traders around the globe expectantly waiting for the US Federal Reserve to issue an interest-rate lift at 18:00 GMT.
Forecasts for a 25-basis-point hike by the Fed have contained transatlantic market volatility all week, with forecasts for a rise following hawkish commentary from several bank officials.
Even the spectre of Brexit and the looming triggering of Article 50 failed to stoke much action, although pundits were closely watching developments in Netherlands' election.
The FTSE 100 was up 0.15% or 10.79 points to 7,368.64 at the close of play, with the FTSE 250 managing a 0.07% rise to 18,963.96. Similarly tepid gains were seen on Wall St and across Europe.
"Today's market action has been conducted with a nervous eye towards the Fed meeting this evening, as indeed has the whole week thus far," said IG's Chris Beauchamp.
"Oil firms and miners are leading the way higher, with the index still within touching distance of its recent all-time high," the chief market analyst said. The Bank of England is expected to hold its benchmark interest rate unchanged on Thursday.
Jasper Lawler, senior market analyst at London Capital Group, was another who noted the dampening effect of the pending US rate decision.
"Stocks could spring to life on tomorrow's open once the Fed has made its move and the Dutch election result is known," said Lawler.
In London, the FTSE 350 indices for mining-linked and oil-related stocks were firmly ahead and the latter as crude oil prices firmed.
Glencore, Antofagasta and Anglo American were all beneficiaries of rising industrial metals prices, and positive sector comment from investment bank Goldman Sachs.
Shell and BP were on the up as crude prices gains on news of a fall in US stores. The shares of banks and insurers were also making gains.
In a session largely devoid of blue-chip news, it was Hikma that received the greatest positive attention as its full-year numbers, complete with improved dividend, impressed.
Lloyds Banking Group edged up after the government reduced its stake to less than 3% overnight.
AstraZeneca, however, was lower despite issuing an apparently positive update on the Phase 3 trial of its ovarian cancer treatment Lynparza.
House builders such as Persimmon were under the cosh after RICS said UK's construction industry could lose about 200k EU workers if it did not retain single-market access.
Some utilities, which are sensitive to US interest rates, were down, led by National Grid.
Meantime, mixed UK employment data was cautiously received. While the jobless rate had fallen to its lowest since 1975, wage growth continued to slow.
Stateside, US consumer-price index and retail sales data was in line with expectations, with the New York Empire State manufacturing and National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo housing market index both ahead of views.
"In all likelihood, however, none of this will matter much to the Federal Reserve, therefore meaning it didn't matter all that much to investors," said Spreadex's Connor Campbell.
FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,368.64 0.15%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 18,963.96 0.07%
techMARK (TASX) 3,468.72 -0.15%
FTSE 100 - Risers
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 2,297.00p 8.04%
Glencore (GLEN) 325.10p 2.86%
Babcock International Group (BAB) 914.50p 2.29%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 806.50p 2.28%
Wolseley (WOS) 5,145.00p 1.98%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 239.60p 1.96%
Capita (CPI) 576.50p 1.77%
Prudential (PRU) 1,736.50p 1.25%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,194.50p 1.23%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 249.30p 1.18%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Informa (INF) 643.00p -1.30%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 1,141.00p -1.30%
Old Mutual (OML) 222.80p -1.20%
Persimmon (PSN) 2,073.00p -1.14%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 6,960.00p -1.07%
Sage Group (SGE) 639.50p -1.01%
Intu Properties (INTU) 276.00p -0.86%
Next (NXT) 3,897.00p -0.81%
National Grid (NG.) 976.80p -0.79%
Shire Plc (SHP) 4,850.00p -0.69%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Marshalls (MSLH) 346.90p 9.67%
IP Group (IPO) 160.50p 7.00%
Ibstock (IBST) 214.00p 6.22%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 159.00p 5.60%
Petra Diamonds Ltd.(DI) (PDL) 131.00p 5.22%
Clarkson (CKN) 2,800.00p 3.70%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 922.50p 2.61%
Polymetal International (POLY) 951.50p 2.48%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 834.50p 2.46%
OneSavings Bank (OSB) 419.30p 2.42%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
SIG (SHI) 110.10p -4.18%
St. Modwen Properties (SMP) 317.60p -3.70%
McCarthy & Stone (MCS) 192.00p -2.49%
AO World (AO.) 146.20p -2.27%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 250.40p -2.26%
Allied Minds (ALM) 381.20p -2.21%
Card Factory (CARD) 276.80p -2.18%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 362.00p -2.00%
Sophos Group (SOPH) 263.50p -1.94%
Cranswick (CWK) 2,397.00p -1.84%