US Federal Reserve building
US Federal Reserve signalled that there could be just one interest rate cut this year / Image source: Adobe

Stocks in Europe fell around Thursday midday, after the US Federal Reserve backpedalled from previous predictions.

The FTSE 100 index was down 40.98 points, 0.5%, at 8,174.50. The FTSE 250 was down 146.28 points, 0.7%, at 20,351.12, and the AIM All-Share was down 1.59 points, 0.2%, at 785.77.

The Cboe UK 100 was down 0.7% at 814.10, the Cboe UK 250 was down 1.1% at 17,782.64, and the Cboe Small Companies was down 0.1% at 16,761.33.

In European equities on Thursday, the CAC 40 in Paris was down 1.2%, while the DAX 40 in Frankfurt was down 1.1%.

The US Federal Reserve on Wednesday signalled that there could be just one interest rate cut this year, backpedalled from previous predictions. Back in March, the Fed’s dot plot implied four cuts.

Also on Wednesday, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the year-on-year consumer price inflation rate cooled to 3.3% in May from 3.4% in April. According to FXStreet, markets were expecting another 3.4% increase.

‘Fed chair Jerome Powell didn’t give a huge amount away, although it felt telling that he was fairly cautious about the cooler than expected inflation figures from earlier in the day. The central bank is clear that it wants further signs inflation is on the path to the magic 2% level before it is prepared to start cutting rates. One major sticking point being the continued tight labour market conditions,’ said AJ Bell’s Russ Mould.

Stocks in New York were called to open mixed. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was called down 0.4%, the S&P 500 index flat, and the Nasdaq Composite up 0.5%.

The pound was quoted at $1.2780 at midday on Thursday in London, lower compared to $1.2836 at the equities close on Wednesday. The euro stood at $1.0802, down against $1.0848.

Against the yen, the dollar was trading at JP¥157.17, much higher compared to JP¥155.77.

‘The Japanese yen edged lower against a basket of major currencies in the early session, as the market widely anticipates that the Bank of Japan (BoJ) will maintain its current interest rates in its upcoming policy decision on Friday,’ said Daniel Takieddine at BDSwiss.

In the FTSE 100, Halma surged 10% to the top of the index.

The Buckinghamshire, England-based safety equipment maker said pretax profit jumped 17% to £340.3 million in the financial year ended March 31 from £291.5 million a year prior, as revenue climbed 9.8% to £2.03 billion from £1.85 billion.

The company noted sound overall demand for its products and services, with the Environmental & Analysis sector delivering ‘very strong revenue growth’ in the photonics business, and supported by Water Treatment and Analysis.

Environmental & Analysis revenue surged 19% to £658.4 million from £552.1 million.

Halma recommended a final dividend of 13.20 pence per share, up 7.0% from 12.34p a year prior. This brings the total payout to 21.61p, up 7.0% from 20.20p.

BT Group edged up 2.9%

Grupo Financiero Inbursa SAB de CV, the Mexico City-based investment vehicle of multi-billionaire Carlos Slim has bought a 3.2% stake in BT, crossing that ownership threshold on Thursday last week, according to a stock exchange disclosure on Wednesday.

Among his many business interests, Slim is chair of America Movil, which has telecommunications operations throughout Latin America.

In the FTSE 250, Crest Nicholson lost 8.7%, after it slashed its interim dividend.

Crest Nicholson reported a £30.9 million pretax loss for the six months to April 30, swung from a £28.4 million profit a year before.

Revenue decreased 8.9% to £257.5 million from £282.7 million, as home completions decreased 12% to 788 from 894.

Crest Nicholson declared a 1.00p per share interim dividend, down 82% from the 5.50p it returned for first half of last year.

The Surrey, England-based housebuilder also announced that former chief executive officer Peter Truscott will step down from its board on Friday, having served since 2019.

Amongst London’s small caps, PayPoint added 6.9%.

The Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire-based store payment service provider said that in the financial year that ended March 31, pretax profit rose 13% to £48.2 million from £42.6 million the previous year.

Revenue increased by 83% to £306.4 million from £167.7 million reflecting the first full year since the company acquired the Love2shop business.

PayPoint said it will launch a three-year share buyback programme that will return a minimum of £20 million to shareholders over the next 12 months with potential increases, it said, depending on performance, market conditions, cash generation, and the general capital needs of the business.

On AIM, Trident Royalties jumped 20%, after it agreed a £144 million takeover approach from industry peer, Deterra Global Holdings.

The cash bid values each share in Trident, the diversified mining royalty company, at 49 pence each. The offer represents a 23% premium to Trident’s closing share price of 40p on Wednesday.

Brent oil was quoted at $82.01 a barrel at midday in London on Thursday, down slightly from $82.07 late Wednesday. Gold was quoted at $2,319.10 an ounce, down against $2,326.83.

Still to come on Thursday’s economic calendar, at 1330 BST, there is the weekly US initial jobless claims data, as well as a producer price reading.

Copyright 2024 Alliance News Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Find out how to deal online from £1.50 in a SIPP, ISA or Dealing account. AJ Bell logo

Issue Date: 13 Jun 2024