London open: Markets directionless in wake of central bank decisions
UK stocks were struggling for direction in early deals on Friday as investors continued to digest market-moving central bank decisions across the globe.
London's FTSE 100 was up 0.1% at 7,689, but was swinging between gains and losses in the opening half an hour's trade.
Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor, said "a downbeat mood" is evident across global stock markets at the moment as investors adjust their interest-rate expectations to a "higher-for-longer mantra" in the UK and US.
The Federal Reserve and Bank of England left interest rates unchanged this week, but policymakers from both sides argued that rates are likely to stay elevated for some time yet, and even another rate hike might be possible if incoming economic data suggests it is needed.
In the UK in particular, Hunter said the prospect of a long pause in rates is "putting more pressure on an economy which is only showing tepid growth at the moment". He said: "The uncertainty has been most keenly felt in the FTSE250 index, which is seen as a natural barometer for the domestic economy, and which has fluctuated between positive and negative territory this year, currently standing down by 1.5%."
Friday sees the release of a host of purchasing managers' indices (PMIs) across the Eurozone, UK and US.
Other data revealed that UK retail sales rebounded in August from the rain affected prior month, rising 0.4% on the back of strong food and clothing purchases by consumers. This was an improvement from the 1.1% decline in July but slightly below the 0.5% increase expected by analysts.
Meanwhile, the GfK Consumer Confidence index increased four points to -21, the highest reading since January 2022.
Ocado attempts a rebound
Ocado was among the best performers as it attempted to claw its way back after plummeting 20% yesterday following a broker downgrade by Exane Paribas to 'underperform'. Prior to this week, the stock had more than doubled since June.
JD Sports Fashion was extending gains after impressing the market with its interim results yesterday, with pre-tax profits jumping by 26%.
AstraZeneca was higher after announcing positive results from the TROPION-Breast01 phase three trial on Friday.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Auto Trader Group (AUTO) 634.80p 2.55%
Rightmove (RMV) 565.40p 1.98%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 659.40p 1.79%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 11,070.00p 1.69%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 146.35p 1.00%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 44.83p 0.91%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 818.00p 0.79%
Diageo (DGE) 3,164.00p 0.78%
Frasers Group (FRAS) 818.50p 0.68%
Admiral Group (ADM) 2,460.00p 0.65%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Phoenix Group Holdings (PHNX) 520.60p -2.87%
CRH (CDI) (CRH) 4,311.00p -1.71%
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 6,100.00p -1.10%
Smith (DS) (SMDS) 286.20p -1.07%
Beazley (BEZ) 561.50p -1.06%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 467.00p -0.98%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 2,092.00p -0.85%
Diploma (DPLM) 3,058.00p -0.84%
Halma (HLMA) 2,008.00p -0.84%
Unite Group (UTG) 930.00p -0.64%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Ascential (ASCL) 196.90p 3.47%
Moonpig Group (MOON) 171.50p 2.51%
Victrex plc (VCT) 1,456.00p 2.39%
Rathbones Group (RAT) 1,790.00p 2.29%
Ithaca Energy (ITH) 172.70p 2.07%
Watches of Switzerland Group (WOSG) 591.00p 1.63%
Investec (INVP) 478.70p 1.42%
Spirent Communications (SPT) 138.10p 1.25%
Just Group (JUST) 73.10p 1.11%
Bank of Georgia Group (BGEO) 3,735.00p 1.08%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Baltic Classifieds Group (BCG) 193.80p -3.58%
Apax Global Alpha Limited (APAX) 163.00p -2.63%
Volution Group (FAN) 350.00p -2.56%
Ceres Power Holdings (CWR) 339.20p -2.47%
Allianz Technology Trust (ATT) 258.00p -2.46%
Vesuvius (VSVS) 437.40p -2.41%
TBC Bank Group (TBCG) 2,935.00p -2.00%
Babcock International Group (BAB) 377.40p -1.87%
Lancashire Holdings Limited (LRE) 607.50p -1.78%
VinaCapital Vietnam Opportunity Fund Ltd. (VOF) 450.50p -1.53%