The UK’s major shares made a quiet start to trading on Thursday with investors happy to sit tight ahead of the Bank of England’s monthly interest rate call, due at 11am this morning.
The Bank of England is expected to leave benchmark interest rates unchanged, but investors will look for hints of inflation pressures, which broke above the central bank’s 2% target in May. Investors increasingly want to fully understand its stance on inflation with scrutiny of every comment from US Federal Reserve’s officials seemingly heightening expectations on this side of the Atlantic.
The benchmark FTSE 100 had gained around 0.24% at 9am to 7,091.06, while mid-caps made even mote modest progress, up just 0.1% at 22,685.378.
Overnight, in New York, the Dow Jones fell 71 points or 0.21% to close at 33,874 while the more broadly spread S&P 500 similarly dipped 0.11% to end the session at 4,241. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite managed a positive finish, rising 0.13% to 14,271.
In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei was a sliver lower at 28,862 whilst Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was 0.13% higher at 28,854. The Shanghai Composite was down 0.12% at 3,561.
The pound nudged 0.05% lower versus the dollar to $1.3957 while safety asset gold inched 0.08% down to $1,775 per ounce. Brent crude added 0.6% to $75.30 per barrel and it was another down day for bitcoin, the cryptocurrency losing around 4% to trade at $32,787, continuing to walk the $30,000 tightrope that many technical traders see as important.
AROUND THE MARKET
On the company news front, housebuilders were back in vogue after Crest Nicholson (CRST) swung to a half-year profit and reinstated its dividend. Shares in the company rallied nearly 3% to 442.4p.
That appeared to inspire renewed interest across the sector with Berkeley (BKG) topping the FTSE 100 leaderboard a day after its prelims, which caused a pause for breath among investors. The shares were up 2.7% at £47.45, with Barratt Developments (BDEV) and Taylor Wimpey (TW.) not far behind.
Drug developer GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) rose 0.3% to £14.13 after it set out plans to turn its consumer healthcare arm into a separately listed company, in a move that will deliver an £8 billion windfall and other financial benefits for its underperforming drugs business.
Among other stocks, St. Modwen Properties (SMP) increased 0.5% to 554p after it backed the latest sweetened buyout offer by private equity firm Blackstone, which values the property firm at £1.25 billion.
Online-only building materials retailer CMO Stores unveiled plans to list shares on the UK stock market on Thursday, although precious little information is known at this point. The business was founded in 2008 and sells 75,000-odd products to trade and domestic customers.
Distribution and services group Bunzl’s (BNZL) share price rose 2.35% to £24.39 on expectations of a 1% rise in first-half revenue.
The company has seen a strong recovery in demand from foodservice and retail sectors was largely offset by the anticipated decline in larger Covid-19 related orders.
Allergy Therapeutics’ (AGY) share price surged nearly 5% to 25.75p as it said it expected annual operating profit to be ‘well ahead’ of market expectations, driven by sales growth and lower costs.
Wood Group’s (WG.) like for like revenue for the six months ended 30 June 2021 was down 21% when compared with same period in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Shares in the company fell 1.77% to 224.95p.