London open: FTSE edges up after Powell comments
London stocks edged up in early trade on Thursday following a surge on Wall Street, after Fed Chair Jerome Powell suggested the pace of rate hikes might ease as soon as this month.
At 0900 GMT, the FTSE 100 was up 0.2% at 7,586.93.
Matt Britzman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The S&P 500 added more than 3% yesterday evening following comments from Federal Reserve Chair, Jay Powell, that signalled a potential slowing of interest rate hikes.
"Markets have been clinging to every scrap of positive news lately and this was a continuation of that trend. Comments from the Fed chair might have suggested a slight breather from the pace of hikes we’ve seen more recently, but there were clear warnings that the Fed was committed to returning inflation to levels akin to longer term targets.
"Mr Powell will be fully aware markets are hanging on every word he says - but the reality is, given the time lag from rate rises to any real impact on the economy, it’s an almost impossible task to slow at the perfect time and the jobs far from complete."
On home shores, the latest survey from Nationwide showed that house prices fell in November as the fallout from the government's disastrous mini-budget continued to reverberate.
According to the latest Nationwide House Price Index, prices fell by 1.4% month-on-month in November, the biggest decline since June 2020. In October, they eased 0.9%.
On an annual basis, UK house price growth was 4.4% last month, sharply down on October’s 7.2% increase. The average price of a house in the UK is now £263,788.
The 23 September mini-budget - which included large, unfunded tax cuts but no spending plans or economic forecasts -sparked turmoil across markets, sending mortgage rates sharply higher and lending to the temporary withdrawal of some offers.
Robert Gardner, chief economist at Nationwide, said: "The fallout from the mini-budget continued to impact the market.
"While financial market conditions have stabilised, interest rates for new mortgages remain elevated and the market has lost a significant degree of momentum. Housing affordability for potential buyers and home movers has become much more stretched at a time when household finances are already under pressure from high inflation."
Elsewhere, data from retail consultancy Springboard showed that retail footfall sparked in November, boosted by Black Friday, although it remains well below pre-pandemic levels.
In equity markets, AJ Bell gained as it reported a jump in revenues and profits despite a "challenging" year for markets.
Components maker Essentra rose after saying it had bought Wixroyd Group, a UK supplier of industrial parts for the engineering sector, for an initial £29.5m with a further £7m potentially payable on a deferred earn-out basis.
Darktrace rallied after an initiation at ‘buy’ by Redburn.
On the downside, educational publisher Pearson was knocked lower by a downgrade to ‘neutral’ at Exane.
Ninety One and Telecom Plus were in the red as they traded without entitlement to the dividend, while Auction Technology slumped after full-year results.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Ocado Group (OCDO) 665.80p 6.94%
Intermediate Capital Group (ICP) 1,254.50p 5.11%
SEGRO (SGRO) 825.00p 4.32%
Schroders (SDR) 461.30p 4.27%
Dechra Pharmaceuticals (DPH) 2,826.00p 3.90%
Prudential (PRU) 1,017.50p 3.89%
Croda International (CRDA) 6,996.00p 2.97%
Halma (HLMA) 2,228.00p 2.58%
Auto Trader Group (AUTO) 580.20p 2.55%
B&M European Value Retail S.A. (DI) (BME) 419.70p 2.54%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Pearson (PSON) 957.00p -3.84%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 600.80p -2.69%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 499.25p -2.05%
Shell (SHEL) 2,407.50p -1.49%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 89.62p -1.43%
Imperial Brands (IMB) 2,095.00p -1.41%
BP (BP.) 490.65p -1.38%
BAE Systems (BA.) 812.00p -1.29%
Aviva (AV.) 438.60p -1.28%
Anglo American (AAL) 3,364.50p -1.26%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Bridgepoint Group (Reg S) (BPT) 209.20p 6.46%
Molten Ventures (GROW) 413.00p 5.90%
ASOS (ASC) 668.00p 5.78%
Future (FUTR) 1,481.00p 5.41%
Darktrace (DARK) 356.00p 4.40%
Pennon Group (PNN) 956.00p 4.37%
Syncona Limited NPV (SYNC) 179.60p 4.30%
Liontrust Asset Management (LIO) 1,154.00p 3.78%
Bellevue Healthcare Trust (Red) (BBH) 164.00p 3.67%
Capital & Counties Properties (CAPC) 105.10p 3.55%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Auction Technology Group (ATG) 780.00p -8.98%
Ninety One (N91) 193.10p -4.03%
Currys (CURY) 74.65p -3.99%
Investec (INVP) 500.20p -3.47%
Bellway (BWY) 1,947.50p -2.92%
Energean (ENOG) 1,450.00p -2.36%
Telecom Plus (TEP) 2,445.00p -1.61%
Bank of Georgia Group (BGEO) 2,490.00p -1.58%
TBC Bank Group (TBCG) 2,155.00p -1.37%
RHI Magnesita N.V. (DI) (RHIM) 2,160.00p -1.37%