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17 Mar 2021 | 11:01

London midday: Stocks in the red ahead of Fed policy decision

(Sharecast News) - London stocks were still in the red by midday on Wednesday as investors eyed the latest policy announcement from the US Federal Reserve. The FTSE 100 was down 0.5% at 6,767.58.

IG market analyst Joshua Mahony said: "The Federal Reserve looks to take centre stage today, with traders seeking to gauge their outlook in the face of rising inflation and treasury yield expectations. The ECB may have decided to act in a bid to dampen the rise in yields, but Powell has shown little desire to target that trend. Inflation looks to be a key topic for markets going forward, with reopening efforts expected to bring a sharp surge in prices.

"While the Fed and BoE are both aware of the short sharp rise in inflation that could be coming over the coming months, the big question is just how tolerant these central banks will be until they decide to tighten policy. The Fed dot plot will be crucial today, with Joe Biden's success on the stimulus and vaccination front since December meaning we are likely to see many members adjust their interest rate forecasts accordingly."

The Fed's rate announcement is due at 1800 GMT.

In equity markets, online supermarket Ocado lost ground ahead of a first-quarter trading update on Thursday.

Shopping centre owner Hammerson slumped, having risen sharply a day earlier after saying it was looking to convert a former flagship Debenhams in Leicester into housing.

Upper Crust owner SSP was weaker after saying it was looking to raise £475m via a rights issue as it anticipated slower recovery from the impact of the pandemic on the travel industry.

TI Fluid Systems was knocked lower by a downgrade at Deutsche Bank, while Trainline was hit by a downgrade at Panmure.

On the upside, BT and Vodafone were among the top performers after the UK government auctioned a new tranche of 5G mobile network spectrum for £1.36bn

Engine maker Rolls-Royce was a high riser after an upgrade to 'neutral' from 'underweight' by JPMorgan Cazenove, while Standard Chartered was boosted by an upgrade to 'buy' at HSBC.

Investment platform Hargreaves Lansdown rallied as it predicted pre-tax profit for the year to the end of June would be "modestly above" the top of analyst expectations after strong dealing volumes continued from the end of January.

Outsourcer Capita gained after announcing it was simplifying its business into three divisions, from six, as it posted a decline in full-year pre-tax profit after taking a hit from the pandemic.

Serco pushed up after being awarded a £400m contract to continue providing support services at the 5 Wing Canadian Forces Base in Goose Bay, Canada.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 6,767.58 -0.53% FTSE 250 (MCX) 21,630.40 -0.62% techMARK (TASX) 4,217.52 -0.53%

FTSE 100 - Risers

BT Group (BT.A) 150.15p 4.85% Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 127.35p 3.66% Relx plc (REL) 1,779.50p 2.21% Standard Chartered (STAN) 501.80p 2.14% HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 429.45p 1.57% Vodafone Group (VOD) 136.28p 1.31% Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,566.00p 1.06% Ferguson (FERG) 9,162.00p 1.06% NATWEST GROUP PLC ORD 100P (NWG) 187.50p 0.97% Intertek Group (ITRK) 5,522.00p 0.95%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Evraz (EVR) 540.20p -3.84% Ocado Group (OCDO) 2,121.00p -3.11% Fresnillo (FRES) 936.80p -3.10% Anglo American (AAL) 2,915.50p -3.08% London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) 7,322.00p -2.53% Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 3,042.00p -2.50% Scottish Mortgage Inv Trust (SMT) 1,148.00p -2.46% Land Securities Group (LAND) 690.50p -2.17% Rightmove (RMV) 561.40p -2.09% Polymetal International (POLY) 1,479.00p -2.02%

FTSE 250 - Risers

AJ Bell (AJB) 428.50p 2.27% PZ Cussons (PZC) 265.50p 2.12% Herald Investment Trust (HRI) 2,155.00p 1.89% Liontrust Asset Management (LIO) 1,365.00p 1.87% Future (FUTR) 1,838.00p 1.66% Bodycote (BOY) 822.00p 1.48% Airtel Africa (AAF) 83.40p 1.46% easyJet (EZJ) 1,047.00p 1.45% Contour Global (GLO) 202.00p 1.41% Hill & Smith Holdings (HILS) 1,444.00p 1.40%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Hammerson (HMSO) 38.34p -8.06% SSP Group (SSPG) 326.80p -5.49% Tullow Oil (TLW) 56.62p -4.74% Computacenter (CCC) 2,238.00p -4.44% Trainline (TRN) 479.80p -4.42% TI Fluid Systems (TIFS) 270.75p -4.38% Just Group (JUST) 96.60p -3.30% Crest Nicholson Holdings (CRST) 386.40p -3.16% Baillie Gifford US Growth Trust (USA) 327.00p -2.68% Polypipe Group (PLP) 559.00p -2.61%
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