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17 Mar 2021 | 16:25

London close: Stocks in the red ahead of Fed

(Sharecast News) - London stocks closed Wednesday's session in negative territory, as investors eyed the latest policy announcement from the US Federal Reserve due later in the evening. The FTSE 100 ended the session down 0.6% at 6,762.67, and the FTSE 250 was off 0.95% at 21,588.55.

Sterling was weaker as well, last trading down 0.21% against the dollar at $1.3862, and slipping 0.2% on the euro to change hands at €1.1648.

"The onus is now on the Fed to provide some clarity on what it will do next, or at least telegraph something clearer on the topic to appease markets that have moved towards an expectation of earlier rate forecasts," said IG chief market analyst Chris Beauchamp.

"Some might argue that Powell has already been fairly clear on this, but markets can be very obtuse when the mood takes them, and in this clash of expectations we can usually find a good dose of volatility.

"As if to underline their point, investors took the 10-year yield to its highest level in over a year, pre-empting the likely upgrade to economic forecasts released this evening."

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

In equity markets, online supermarket Ocado lost 4.84% ahead of a first-quarter trading update on Thursday.

Shopping centre owner Hammerson slumped 9.62%, 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 7.92% 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 4.82% lower by a downgrade at Deutsche Bank, while Trainline was hit 5.86% by a downgrade at Panmure.

On the upside, BT and Vodafone rose 6.49% and 1.78% respectively, after the UK government auctioned a new tranche of 5G mobile network spectrum for £1.36bn.

Engine maker Rolls-Royce advanced 3.54% after an upgrade to 'neutral' from 'underweight' by JPMorgan Cazenove, while Standard Chartered was boosted 1.89% by an upgrade to 'buy' at HSBC.

Investment platform Hargreaves Lansdown rose 1.45% after 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 1.73%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 1.53% 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) 6,762.67 -0.60% FTSE 250 (MCX) 21,558.55 -0.95% techMARK (TASX) 4,205.55 -0.81%

FTSE 100 - Risers

BT Group (BT.A) 152.50p 6.49% Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 127.20p 3.54% Intertek Group (ITRK) 5,608.00p 2.41% British American Tobacco (BATS) 2,750.50p 2.25% Standard Chartered (STAN) 500.60p 1.89% HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 430.60p 1.84% Vodafone Group (VOD) 136.92p 1.78% Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,572.00p 1.45% Relx plc (REL) 1,771.00p 1.44% Avast (AVST) 467.80p 1.26%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Ocado Group (OCDO) 2,083.00p -4.84% M&G (MNG) 214.10p -4.08% Anglo American (AAL) 2,896.50p -3.94% Evraz (EVR) 540.20p -3.84% Legal & General Group (LGEN) 281.10p -3.50% Compass Group (CPG) 1,540.00p -3.48% Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 3,028.00p -3.30% London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) 7,268.00p -3.25% Scottish Mortgage Inv Trust (SMT) 1,139.00p -3.23% Rightmove (RMV) 555.80p -3.07%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Helios Towers (HTWS) 157.20p 2.88% Chemring Group (CHG) 272.50p 2.25% Airtel Africa (AAF) 84.00p 2.19% Hill & Smith Holdings (HILS) 1,446.00p 2.11% Capita (CPI) 46.98p 1.73% Herald Investment Trust (HRI) 2,150.00p 1.65% AJ Bell (AJB) 425.50p 1.55% Serco Group (SRP) 139.50p 1.53% HICL Infrastructure (HICL) 168.40p 1.45% Future (FUTR) 1,834.00p 1.44%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Hammerson (HMSO) 37.69p -9.62% SSP Group (SSPG) 320.00p -7.92% Games Workshop Group (GAW) 9,445.00p -7.22% Computacenter (CCC) 2,184.00p -6.75% Tullow Oil (TLW) 55.50p -6.63% Trainline (TRN) 472.60p -5.86% Just Group (JUST) 94.45p -5.46% Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 93.70p -5.09% Greggs (GRG) 2,164.00p -5.00% TI Fluid Systems (TIFS) 269.50p -4.82%
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