Euro sign at the ECB
European Central Bank remains on course to lower interest rates at its June meeting / Image source: Adobe

Stock prices in London opened higher on Tuesday as investors became focused on the upcoming US Federal Reserve’s interest rate decision, after shares fell Monday following the EU election.

The FTSE 100 index opened up 11.92 points, 0.1%, at 8,240.40. The FTSE 250 was up 65.24 points, 0.3%, at 20,511.28, and the AIM All-Share was up 0.08 of a point at 788.36.

The Cboe UK 100 was up 0.2% at 821.56, the Cboe UK 250 was up 0.3% at 17,978.05, and the Cboe Small Companies was down 0.1% at 16,858.34.

In European equities on Tuesday, the CAC 40 in Paris was up 0.3%, while the DAX 40 in Frankfurt was up 0.2%.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the jobless rate ticked up to 4.4% in three months to the end of April from 4.3% in the three months to the end of March. According to FXStreet, markets were expecting the unemployment rate to remain unchanged.

The ONS said average earnings excluding bonuses rose 6.0% on-year in the period, matching the pace of growth in the three months to April.

Including bonuses, wages increased 5.9%, also matching the prior month, which was revised upwards from 5.7%. Market consensus had been anticipating a rise of just 5.7% in the recent period.

Nicholas Hyett, investment manager at Wealth Club, commented: ‘Falling employment, rising unemployment and rising economic inactivity do not paint a pretty picture of the UK labour market. Falling vacancies makes those numbers particularly concerning, suggesting there is a genuine lack of demand for staff.’

Focus this week will be on the Federal Reserve decision on Wednesday. At the central bank’s fourth meeting of 2024, the Fed is expected to leave interest rates unchanged.

The decision will be announced after the US May consumer price inflation data is out.

Ipek Ozkardeskaya at Swissquote Bank said the Fed ‘is widely expected to trim its rate cutting projections for this year due to sticky inflation and still-tight jobs market.’

In the US on Monday, Wall Street ended higher, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.2%, the S&P 500 up 0.3% and the Nasdaq Composite up 0.4%.

The pound was quoted at $1.2718 early on Tuesday in London, lower compared to $1.2722 at the equities close on Monday. The euro stood at $1.0764, higher against $1.0739. Against the yen, the dollar was trading at JP¥157.36, higher compared to JP¥156.89.

Miners were firmly in the red on Tuesday morning. Rio Tinto, Anglo American, Fresnillo, Glencore and Antofagasta were down 1.6%, 1.5%, 1.3%, 1.2%, and 1.1%.

GSK rose 0.8%.

GSK said it has taken the first step to seek appeal of the recent Daubert ruling, made by the Delaware Superior Court, which permits plaintiff expert testimony as part of the Zantac litigation in Delaware.

‘GSK strongly disagrees with the Delaware Superior Court’s ruling and has filed an application with the court to appeal to the Delaware Supreme Court for interlocutory review of the decision,’ it said.

GSK claims that the court’s ruling is ‘inconsistent with how the Daubert standard has been applied previously in Delaware and federal courts.’

Zantac was a heartburn drug that was pulled off the market in 2020 at the request of the US Food & Drug Administration, after low levels of a ‘probable carcinogen’ were found in samples.

In the FTSE 250, Oxford Instruments jumped 7.5%.

In the year ended March 31, revenue rose 5.8% to £470.4 million from £444.7 million a year earlier. Pretax profit, however, edged down 3.0% to £71.3 million from £73.5 million.

The company upped its dividend by 6.7% to 20.8p from 19.5p.

Oxford Instruments also announced plans to acquire FemtoTools. Based in Zurich, Switzerland, and founded in 2007, FemtoTools specialises in the design and manufacture of high-speed, precision nanoindenters.

Also in early company news, shares in Raspberry Pi Holdings rose as high as 388.20p.

This is well above the 280p initial offering price disclosed by Raspberry Pi earlier Tuesday.

At the IPO price, Raspberry Pi would have a market value of around £541.6 million, the company said in a statement. Tuesday’s share price rise implies a market value of around £751 million.

CEO Eben Upton said: ‘The quality of the interactions during the marketing process has underlined our belief that London has the right calibre and sophistication of investor to support growing, ambitious technology businesses such as Raspberry Pi. The reaction that we have received is a reflection of the world-class team that we have assembled and the strength of the loyal community with whom we have grown.’

In Asia on Tuesday, the Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo was up 0.3%. In China, the Shanghai Composite was down 0.8%, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was down 1.0%. The S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney closed down 1.3%.

Brent oil was quoted at $81.57 a barrel early in London on Tuesday, up from $80.81 late Monday. Gold was quoted at $2,304.40 an ounce, lower against $2,305.10.

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Issue Date: 11 Jun 2024