London shares close higher despite caution ahead of rate decisions

The FTSE 100 moved 0.08%, or 5.67 points, lower to finish at 7,548.44.

Henry Saker-Clark
Wednesday 13 December 2023 17:38 GMT
London stocks finished higher on Wednesday (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
London stocks finished higher on Wednesday (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Archive)

Stocks made modest gains in London on Wednesday as a buoyant start to trading became increasingly cautious throughout the session.

Trading sentiment was once again restrained as traders and investors looked towards this week’s three key central bank meetings and their prospective interest rate votes.

Nevertheless, London markets were stronger than European peers as healthcare firms helped support gains.

The FTSE 100 moved 0.08%, or 5.67 points, lower to finish at 7,548.44.

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “It’s been a cautious session for markets in Europe today with little in the way of direction ahead of tonight’s Federal Reserve rate decision, and tomorrow’s Bank of England and ECB (European Central Bank) rate decisions.

Weakness in oil prices which slid to fresh 5-month lows before rebounding, is weighing on the share prices of BP and Shell

Michael Hewson, CMC Markets UK

“The FTSE 100 is outperforming, helped by another strong session from AstraZeneca as it continues to build on the gains we saw on Tuesday in response to its acquisition of Icosavax.

“Weakness in oil prices which slid to fresh 5-month lows before rebounding, is weighing on the share prices of BP and Shell.”

Elsewhere, in Europe the other key indices failed to keep their heads above water.

The Dax index was 0.15% lower for the day at the close and the Cac 40 closed down 0.16%.

Stateside, the main US markets were broadly flat as the US producer price index inflation data came in slightly below expectations.

Meanwhile, sterling had a weak session after UK GDP contracted by 0.3% – more than analysts had expected – in October, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The pound was down O.27% at 1.253 US dollars and was 0.22% lower at 1.160 euros at market close in London.

In company news, Ladbrokes’ parent firm Entain saw shares lift after its boss stepped down just weeks after the group agreed a £615 million settlement to resolve a probe into alleged bribery at a former Turkish subsidiary.

The gambling giant said Jette Nygaard-Andersen requested to leave the role with immediate effect and will be replaced by non-executive director Stella David on an interim basis.

The former boss had faced criticism from shareholders over its share performance and recent acquisitions, causing shares to rise 41p to 846.6p on the announcement.

Shares in Impellam surged after the recruitment firm agreed to a £483.2 million takeover by Heather Global, a vehicle of Dutch rival HeadFirst Global.

The company, which is majority owned by Tory donor Lord Ashcroft, saw shared rise by 340p to 890p.

Discount retail group B&M European Value Retail was in the red at the close after it announced a share placing at a discount to its closing share price on Tuesday.

The company finished down 37.6p at 562.8p

The price of oil hit a five-month low early in the session but rebounded strongly as traders bought into the energy stock.

A barrel of Brent crude rose by 1.5% to 74.34 US dollars (£59.33) as markets were closing in London.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Entain, up 41p to 846.6p, ConvaTec, up 5p to 236.6p, AstraZeneca, up 218p to 10,390p, Rentokil, up 7.1p to 419.7p, and Antofagasta, up 26.5p to 1,564.5p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Weir Group, down 122.5p to 1,783.5p, B&M European, down 37.6p to 562.8p, Rightmove, down 28p to 566.8p, Vodafone, down 1.97p to 65.14p, and IAG, down 3.3p to 155.9p.

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