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FTSE 100 finishes lower as BoE keeps rates on hold; sterling gains

The UK benchmark index of leading shares finished down nearly 32 points at 7,281
wall street
Footsie closed lower on Thursday
  • FTSE 100 finishes in red

  • Bank of England and European Central Bank leave policy unchanged

  • US inflation cools in August 

  • Sterling gains against US dollar

 

FTSE 100 closed lower as the Bank of England kept rates on hold, as expected, and the pound gained against the US dollar.

The benchmark index of leading shares finished down nearly 32 points at 7,281, while FTSE 250 closed down almost 137.

Sterling is up  0.47% against  the greenback at the time of writing. The US currency fell in the wake of the latest inflation figures from the US, which showed it had unexpectedly cooled last month.

David Madden, analyst at CMC Markets, said: "We heard from a number of central banks today. The Bank of England (BoE) maintained their policy and upgraded their growth outlook for the third-quarter.

"The European Central Bank (ECB) kept their policy unchanged, and confirmed that the monthly bond purchasing scheme will be lowered to €15 billion per month from October until December.

"The ECB lowered its growth outlook, and suggested monetary stimulus was still required, and that helped eurozone stocks."

On Footsie, big cap miners were among the top gainers. Copper giant Antofagasta (LON:ANTO) added 1.74% to 772p. The top laggard was NMC Health (LON:NMC)  which dropped  2.92% to 3,596p.

3.45pm: Trump denies feeling pressure to make trade deal with China 

US President Donald Trump has slammed a report by the Wall Street Journal that said Washington is giving Beijing another chance to try to avoid new tariffs on US$200bn in Chinese exports.

Citing sources, the newspaper said the Trump administration was asking top officials for a fresh round of trade talks later this month. But Trump took to Twitter to deny the US feels pressure to reach a trade deal with China. 

3.30pm: ECB 'out-doved' BoE, says analyst

The European Central Bank has “out-doved” the Bank of England today, according to David Lamb, head of dealing at Fexco Corporate Payments.

“With the Bank of England worried by the threat of a chaotic Brexit and the ECB fretting about protectionism, neither of Europe’s two big central banks is hurrying to raise interest rates,” Lamb said.

“Against a backdrop of fragile economic momentum in both the UK and the Eurozone, neither Mark Carney nor Mario Draghi dare hike rates too quickly for fear of inflicting additional pain on struggling households or choking growth.

“But the downward revision in Eurozone growth, for both 2018 and 2019, handed Mr Draghi the award for the most dovish outlook. In addition to holding interest rates at their current level, the ECB President left himself the option of extending QE beyond its scheduled finale at the end of 2018.”

Lamb said normally dovish remarks from the ECB and the BoE would send the pound and sterling lower against the dollar but a surprise fall in US inflation sent the greenback into the red as the market concluded that the Federal Reserve could pause its rate hikes after September’s planned rise.

The dollar is currently down 0.47% versus the pound and 0.55% against the euro. 

2.40pm: US stocks open higher

US stocks have started trading higher after inflation eased more than expected and as worries about a US-China trade war receded.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 112 points to 26,111, the S&P 500 increased 14 points to 2,903 and the Nasdaq grew 74 points to 8,028. 

US inflation fell to 2.7% in August from 2.9% in July, compared to expectations of 2.8%.

Separate data showed US jobless claims fell to 204,000 last week from 205,000 the previous week, less than the 210,000 expected by analysts. 

Meanwhile, trade tensions between the US and China appeared to ease after the Wall Street Journal reported that the Trump administration is giving Beijing another chance to try to avoid new tariffs on US$200bn in Chinese goods. 

Investors are also keeping a close watch on Hurricane Florence, which is set to hit the coastal areas around the Carolinas. The storm is slowing but more than a million residents have been evacuated in anticipation of catastrophic flooding. 

2.20pm: Draghi says trade dispute could impact global economy 

Mario Draghi has again warned on the potential impact of protectionism on the global economy amid a trade dispute between the US and its trading partners, including the European Union and China.

The ECB President said “the major source of uncertainty that we see... comes from the rising protectionism."

He added that the ECB’s current macroeconomic projections do not take into account trade tariffs that have been announced recently or threatened.

Draghi said the estimates only factor in risks of measures that have been implemented already.

2.10pm: ECB lowers GDP estimates 

The European Central Bank has cut its growth forecasts for the euro-area.

The ECB now expects gross domestic product to rise by 2.0% this year, down from the 2.1% previously forecast. It also cut its estimate for 2019 GDP to 1.8% from 1.9%.

Inflation forecasts were left unchanged at around 1.7% over the next few years.

Speaking at a press conference after the monetary policy announcement, ECB President Mario Draghi said this is consistent with the ECB’s mandate to keep inflation “close to but below 2%”.

1.50pm: Dip in US inflation gives Fed reason to pause, says analyst

Miles Eakers, chief market analyst at FX and payments specialist Centtrip, said the dip in US inflation "could be transitory but it does give the Federal Reserve a reason to pause".

"One of the main concerns has been that the US economy is overheating, but now that inflation is easing, there is even less evidence that this is the case," he said. 

"If inflationary pressure continues to ease, the Fed will pause its monetary policy tightening plans and wait till next year to raise interest rates again to ensure the dollar’s continued strength.

"In fact, as a Brexit deal is becoming more likely and inflationary pressure is rising in Europe, the Pound and the Euro may start recovering against the greenback. Especially, in light of the contentious US mid-term election looming in November."

The dollar fell 0.33% versus the pound and dropped 0.41% against the euro but rose 0.15% against the yen. 

1.30pm: US inflation eases more than expected

US consumer price inflation eased to an annualised rate of 2.7% in August from 2.9% in July, according to the Labor Department.

Economists were expecting inflation of 2.8%.

Compared to a month ago, CPI remained at 0.2%, less than estimates of 0.3%.

Excluding volatile food and energy items, CPI rose 0.1% month-on-month after a 0.2% increase while the annual rate of core CPI was 2.2%, down from 2.4%.

The month-on-month figures for core CPI were in line with expectations while the annual rate missed forecasts of 2.4%.

1.00pm: ECB leaves policy unchanged 

The European Central Bank has left its policy unchanged, as expected.

The central bank will halve its monthly bond purchases to €15bn from October but maintained its stance that it would end the QE programme at the end of the year. 

The ECB has decided to stand pat on its key rates. 

12.40pm: Lira jumps as Turkish cental bank hike rates

As the Bank of England left rates at 0.75%, the Turkish central bank surprised the market by hiking its benchmark interest rate to 24% from 17.75%.

The Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey raised rates to try to stem inflation, which reached 17.9% last month.

The announcement has sent the lira up 2.7% against the dollar to US$0.1619.

“A very sizeable move by the Turkish lira overshadowed a pretty non-descript decision by the Bank of England to leave rates on hold,” said Neil Wilson of Markets.com.

He added: "Couple of points to note here. First this was a hike beyond what the market was thinking and in the context of the earlier comments from president Erdogan, is being treated warmly by markets. It represents a major and important reassertion of the central bank’s independence and shows they will not be bullied by politicians, although to a large degree its hand was forced by the 18% print on August inflation.

“There was also a commitment to do more if necessary and that will be regarded as a sign that policymakers are serious, although it’s maybe a tad short of being a ‘whatever it takes’ type commitment – indeed the move on the lira only takes it back to where it was at the end of August.”

On this side of the pond, the pound is now steady against the dollar at US$1.3049. 

12.20pm: Analysts expect Bank of England to hold off on rate hike for some time

Tom Stevenson, investment director for Personal Investing at Fidelity International, said the Bank of England is likely to keep interest rates unchanged for some time, given its worries about the UK’s “messy divorce” from the EU.

“With the base rate likely to remain unchanged for some time and many banks still yet to pass on the last interest rate hike to savers, the stock market continues to be the best bet for generating a decent return,” he said.

“While investing in stocks and shares may be more risky than keeping money in cash, history shows that over the long run equities have significantly outperformed cash and continue to be the sensible choice for anyone looking for long term real returns.”

Ben Brettell, senior economist at Hargreaves Lansdown, said policymakers are “firmly in the ‘wait-and-see’ mode” after raising interest rates last month and will be reluctant to consider another hike until they have a clear idea about what Brexit is going to look like.

“Realistically May next year looks the first available opportunity to raise rates to 1%,” he said.

12.15pm: BoE says trade war could hurt global economy

The Bank of England said a trade dispute between the US and China could hurt global economic growth.

“Recent announcements of further protectionist measures by the United States and China, if implemented, could have a somewhat more negative impact on global growth than was anticipated at the time of the August Report,” it said in the meeting minutes.

The US has threatened to impose further tariffs on US$200bn of Chinese goods and China has said it would retaliate if it goes ahead.

12.10pm: BoE warns of growing Brexit uncertainty 

In the Bank of England's policy meeting minutes, the central bank warned that uncertainty over Brexit has increased recently. 

The minutes said: "Most indicators of exports and investment intentions had held up in recent months, although there had been a sharp fall in the IHS Markit/CIPS goods export orders index in August.

"Some respondents to that survey, and the associated equivalents for the service and construction sectors, had noted uncertainty around the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

"And reports from the Bank’s Agents had also suggested that companies were becoming more uncertain about the economic outlook and were considering their Brexit contingency plans more carefully."

The pound has reversed early gains to fall 0.01% to US$1.3044. FTSE 100 declines have also eased. 

12.00pm: Bank of England leaves rates unchanged

The Bank of England has voted unanimously to keep interest rates unchanged at 0.75% and the asset purchase programe at £435bn, as widely expected by the market.

It also left corporate bond purchases at £10bn, as expected. 

11.30am: Moody's warns ‘hard Brexit’ could drag Britain into a recession

Credit rating agency Moody’s has warned that a ‘hard Brexit’ scenario could drag Britain into a recession.

Moody’s also said if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, it could cause a big impact on companies and drive the pound lower. The risk of a no-deal Brexit has risen, it added.

“We still think the UK and the EU will eventually reach an agreement to preserve many - but not all - of their current trading arrangements, particularly around trade in goods. However, we believe the prospect of the UK leaving the EU without any agreement has risen materially,” said chief credit officer Colin Ellis.

“The precise impact of a ‘no deal’ outcome is impossible to define because both the UK and the EU would likely take swift steps to limit short-term disruption. But it would clearly pose more significant credit challenges than a negotiated exit.”

The remarks come as the Brexit secretary said in an interview with Today that rebel Tory MPs would either have to back the Prime Minister’s Chequers plan or see the UK leave the EU without a deal.

Despite the warnings, the pound is up 0.11% versus the dollar at US$1.3060. 

11.00am: US stocks edge higher

US stocks futures are trading slightly higher as worries about trade tensions eased after China welcomed an offer from the Trump administration to talk. 

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures increased 25 points to 26,039, S&P 500 futures added 2 points to 2,890 and Nasdaq futures gained 10 points to 7,496.

Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said on Thursday, the two governments were discussing details for a new round of negotiations, adding that the escalation of trade conflicts “doesn’t benefit either side’s interests”.

US has threatened to impose new tariffs on US$200bn of Chinese goods and China has said it would retaliate with its own tariffs.

Investors are also keeping an eye on Hurricane Florence, which is bearing down on the mid-Atlantic coast of the US and is expected to edge near the coast of the Carolinas, potentially producing catastrophic flash flooding.

US inflation data is also in focus with data for August expected to show the annual rate of growth eased to 2.8% from 2.9% in July.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares recovered slightly in pre-market trading after ending lower following the unveiling of its new iPhones.

10.00am: RBS a top FTSE 100 riser

Royal Bank of Scotland PLC (LON:RBS) is a top riser on the FTSE 100 with shares up 1.7% to 240p after saying it could use £4bn of surplus capital to pay a special one-off dividend to shareholders.

Chairman Howard Davies told The Times in an interview that he would prefer to use the spare cash to buy RBC shares back from the government but said the special dividend was an option if shareholders were in favour of it.

“If there are a lot of shareholders pressing for a special dividend, that is something we would consider,” the Times quoted Davies as saying.

RBS has been majority-owned by the government since it was bailed out at the height of the financial crisis in 2008. The government sold a 7.7% stake in RBS in June, reducing its ownership to 62.4%.

9.40am: Negative read-across from John Lewis earnings hits retail shares

Retail shares are under the cosh on a negative read-across from the John Lewis Partnership, which reported a near 99% slump in first-half profits. 

John Lewis said heavy discounting by rivals meant margins were squeezed since it has a price match policy.

Chairman Charlie Mayfield said “these are challenging times in retail” and added that uncertainty facing consumers and the economy, in part due to ongoing Brexit negotiations, made it difficult to forecast trading for the next six months. But the company continues to expect full year profit to be “substantially lower” than last year.

Other retailer stocks in the red are Marks & Spencer Group PLC (LON:MKS), Kingfisher PLC (LON:KGF), Next PLC (LON:NXT), Tesco PLC (LON:TSCO) and J Sainsbury PLC (LON:SBRY).

Wm Morrison Supermarkets (LON:MRW) shares are down 1% to 263p despite hiking its interim dividend by 132% and reporting a strong set of first-half profits and sales. Analysts said the figures were distorted by the World Cup and warm weather, which boosted sales in the second half.

Debenhams PLC (LON:DEB) shares dropped 4.5% to 12.79p after Sports Direct International PLC (LON:DEB) ruled out a bid for the struggling department store chain, in which it already owns a 29.7% stake.

8.45am: FTSE static ahead of Bank of England rate decision

The FTSE 100 made a lacklustre start, falling four points to 7,309.80 ahead of the Bank of England rate decision later.

Analysts and economists expect the Monetary Policy Committee to stand pat after raising borrowing costs in August.

“Not long after the hike, we heard from Mark Carney, the BoE chief, who essentially said we could see one rate hike per year for the next few years,” added David Madden of CMC Markets.

The miners were in focus early on, buoyed by the mood music around trade – the US has said it wants to get back around the negotiating table with China.

The health of the world’s two largest economies is pivotal to the likes of Anglo American (LON:AAL), which was up 1% to lead the Footsie.

Kaz Minerals (LON:KAZ), ahead 2%, was the beneficiary of an upgrade to ‘buy’ from the investment banking arm of HSBC, which also turned a little more positive on copper giant Antofagasta (LON:ANTO).

Proving the old stock market adage that it’s better to travel than arrive, supermarket group Morrisons (LON:MRW) succumbed to a bout of profit-taking in the wake of what looked like a solid set of interim results. The shares fell 2.7%.

Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor, said: “There are any number of real improvements in fortunes for investors to savour.”

Indeed; underlying revenue growth was a robust 4.9%, earnings per share were up strongly, while debt fell. The dividend, meanwhile, has been hiked 11% and there’s a special distribution to shareholders too.

“There are, however, some hints of caution,” Hunter said. 

“The company’s traditional weakness in terms of its convenience store and online offerings are still lagging in comparison to its larger rivals, whilst the proposed merger of Sainsbury and Asda will heap additional pressure on an already fiercely competitive sector.”

Proactive news headlines:

Bushveld Minerals Limited (LON:BMN) has strengthened its grip on South African vanadium producer Vametco. Through the purchase of the stake held by Sojitz Noble Alloys, Bushveld has increased its interest in Strategic Minerals Corporation (SMC) to 100%.

Nektan PLC (LON:NKTN) shares jumped as it helped deliver record revenues for The Sun Play, the online slots site from News UK, through its Evolve white label platform.

Europa Metals Limited (LON:EUZ) has moved early to safeguard the potential full mine development of its Toral lead-zinc-copper mine in northern Spain further down the line.

Live Company Group PLC’s (LON:LVCG) subsidiary, Parallel Live Group Limited (PL), has signed a joint venture agreement with US-based firm Three Six Zero to promote BRICKLIVE events in North America.

Eco Atlantic Oil & Gas Ltd (LON:ECO, CVE:EOG) announced that Total has now exercised its option to acquire a 25% stake in the Orinduik Block, offshore Guyana. Total joins the exploration venture alongside operator Tullow Oil PLC (LON:TLW), owning 60%, and Eco which will retain a 15% interest.

Hurricane Energy PLC (LON:HUR) told investors it has now completed all offshore installation works planned for the 2018 schedule, and the Lancaster early production system remains on-track for first oil in the first half of 2019. The UK offshore oil field developer, in a statement, said that the installation of the subsea umbilical, risers and flowlines (or ‘SURF’) infrastructure had been successfully completed.

Sound Energy PLC (LON:SOU) chief executive James Parsons told investors that the explorer is now ready for its next “potentially transformational” phase of drilling. This morning, in its interim results statement, Sound detailed its operational progress onshore Morocco, which in the first six months of 2018 saw the company advance its two-pronged strategy to develop existing discoveries at Tendrara whilst also undertake high impact exploration in the surrounding areas.

SIMEC Atlantis Energy Limited (LON:SAE) has unveiled the design for its new AR2000 2.0-megawatt tidal power turbine system which includes the largest and most powerful single axis turbine available on the commercial market.

Metminco Limited (LON:MNC) (ASX:MNC) has said it expects to make an announcement regarding a proposed capital raising and acquisition by Monday 17 September. As a result, the mining group said, trading in its shares on the Australian Securities Exchange was temporarily suspended from today, and the stock will also be suspended from trading on AIM with immediate effect as the acquisition target is neither a listed company nor an AIM company. In a separate statement, Metminco also announced its half-yearly report for the period June 30th 2018, showing a pre-tax loss of US$5.598mln, down from a US$30.727mln loss at the same stage in 2017 which had included a US$27.165mln asset sale loss.

Faron Pharmaceuticals Ltd (LON:FARN) boss Markku Jalkanen has told investors he is “excited” to kick off the first in-human trial of his firm’s Clevegen cancer candidate later this year.

Anglo Asian Mining PLC (LON:AAZ) is to carry out an airborne geophysical survey over its Gedabek contract area in Azerbaijan as it looks to identify a pipeline of new gold and copper targets.

Asia-focused investment vehicle Adamas Finance Asia Limited (LON:ADAM) lifted net asset value 1.5% in its latest half year. Consolidated NAV at 30 June was US$95mln, up from US$93.6mln.

Challenger Acquisitions Limited (LON:CHAL) has announced updates on its various projects, including the development of the New York Wheel and The Odyssey in Dallas. The company also announced that it has received the first £35,000 of the loan repayment from Star Sanctum ahead of the scheduled 30 September deadline.

Galileo Resources PLC (LON:GLR) shares moved up in early trading Thursday as the company said it would be increasing its stake in the Star Zinc project to 95%.

Strategic Minerals PLC (LON:SML) (USOTC:SMCDY) said that, further to its announcement on 3 September, it has now exchanged contracts to sell to ASX-listed Great Southern Mining Ltd (GSN). certain tenements identified as gold targets, currently owned by its wholly-owned subsidiary, Central Australian Rare Earths Pty Ltd (CARE). The mineral company, which is actively developing projects prospective for battery materials, said it has received a non-refundable deposit of A$50,000 for the sale.

W Resources PLC (LON:WRES) said construction at its flagship La Parrilla tungsten mine in Spain is estimated to come in “on or below budget” as works continued at the project.

Kavango Resources PLC (LON:KAV) has started an airborne electromagnetic geophysical survey at its KSZ Project in southwest Botswana. Canadian firm Geotech is carrying out the VTEM survey over the Kalahari Suture Zone.

Chaarat Gold Ltd (LON:CGH) has announced that the first phase of the fundraise announced on 28 August has now successfully closed as anticipated. The AIM-listed exploration and development company with assets in the Kyrgyz Republic said the second phase of the fundraise, also announced on 28 August, is ongoing and is expected to close by the end of September/early October 2018.

Arix Bioscience PLC (LON:ARIX), a global healthcare and life science company supporting medical innovation, announced yesterday that industry veteran Arthur Pappas has been appointed as non-executive director of the company. The group also announced that David U’Prichard is retiring from the board, effective immediately.

Cradle Arc PLC (LON:CRA), the African-focused base and precious metals exploration and production company, announced yresterday that Tamesis Partners LLP has resigned as the company's joint broker with immediate effect. Accordingly, it added, SP Angel Corporate Finance LLP is now the company's sole broker. The group said it is continuing to evaluate the company's broking options and a further announcement will be made in the coming months.

6.45am: FTSE 100 predicted to open lower 

The FTSE 100 is seen only slightly lower ahead of the open on Thursday, which features at least a couple of economic stories.

CFD provider IG Markets sees the London index down around 4 points, called at 7,299 to 7,303.

Overnight, headlines from the other side of the Atlantic involved speculated resumption of trade negotiations between the US and China, the American economy’s ‘beige book’ was given a positive outlook, and the latest Apple iPhone news.

Here, at least some of attentions will arbitrarily be on midday’s Bank of England ‘decision’ albeit following last month’s rise, there are no expectations for any further change to interest rates – similarly, the European Central Bank is not expected to make changes, when it reports this afternoon.

“The BoE hiked interest rates last month – the first since the credit crisis. The recent solid growth figures and the impressive earnings report vindicates the central bank for hiking rates,” said David Madden, analyst at CMC Markets.

“Not long after the hike, we heard from Mark Carney, the BoE chief, who essentially said we could see one rate hike per year for the next few years.

“This week it was confirmed that Mr Carney will stay on in his role to provide stability. The developments regarding the UK’s exit from the EU is having a bigger impact on the pound than the economic updates, and dealers will be paying close attention to the situation.”

In New York, the iPhone hype failed to impress Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) investors as the stock fell 1.24% during regular trading, while the Nasdaq itself was off 0.23% at 7,954.

The Dow Jones edged 27 points, 0.11%, higher to 25,998 while the S&P 500 was only fractionally positive for the day, closing at 2,888.

Asian stocks were broadly positive. The Nikkei rose 213 points or 0.94% to trade at 22.817, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 409 points or 1.55% to 26,754.

The Shanghai Composite, meanwhile, gained 0.49% to 2,668.

Around the markets

Pound: US$1.3030, down 0.11%

Gold : US$1,204 an ounce, down 0.06%

Brent crude: US$79.34 a barrel, down 0.5%

Bitcoin: US$6,379, up 0.79%

Headlines

'No-deal' Brexit means no £39bn divorce bill, Dominic Raab warns EU - Sky News

PM to discuss no-deal Brexit plans – BBC News

'Unrepentant Remainer!' Farage LOSES IT at decision to KEEP Mark Carney as BoE boss – Express

New York replaces London as world's top financial centre due to Brexit – Independent

Oil pushes past US$80 as Iran fears mount – BBC News

SSE first-half profits dry up after hot summer – Financial Times

Significant events expected on Thursday September 13:

BoE and ECB interest rate decisions

Interims: Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC (LON:MRW), GVC Holdings PLC (LON:GVC), Faron Pharmaceuticals Oy (LON:FARN), Gresham House PLC (LON:GHE), Ophir Energy PLC (LON:OPHR), Oxford Biomedica PLC (LON:OXB), Safe Charge International Group Limited (LON:SCH), Xeros Technology Group PLC (LON:XSG)

Finals: Ricardo PLC (LON:RCDO)

Ex-dividends: To clip 0.26 points off FTSE 100 stocks - Melrose Industries PLC (LON:MRO)

Economic data: US consumer price index; US weekly jobless claims


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