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18 Mar 2021 | 08:29

London open: Stocks flat ahead of BoE rate announcement

(Sharecast News) - London stocks were little changed in early trade on Thursday as investors digested a dovish statement from the Federal Reserve but erred on the side of caution ahead of the latest policy announcement from the Bank of England. At 0840 GMT, the FTSE 100 was flat at 6,761.58.

Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell pointed out that even a 33,000-plus close for the Dow Jones wasn't enough to inject life into UK markets as they await the latest update from the BoE.

"The Federal Reserve managed to walk a tricky monetary policy tightrope on Wednesday night. While outlining a new set of forecasts, including the expectation of a 6.5% rise in GDP this year compared to the initial 4.2% estimates, Jerome Powell stated that 'no one should be complacent' about the US recovery," he said.

"Going onto the say the Fed will 'provide the economy with the support that it needs for as long as it takes', the crucial detail came in the central bank's comments on inflation. Powell described any rise above the 2% target as 'transitory', and that such an increase would not meet the standard required for a shift in monetary policy.

"In other words, an increase in interest rates is still off the table until at least 2024, even if four members of the FOMC would seek a hike in 2022, and 7 in 2023."

The Bank of England's policy announcement is due at 1200 GMT. It is widely expected to leave rates on hold at 0.1% and the asset purchase scheme at £895bn.

In equity markets, Standard Life Aberdeen was among the top performers after an upgrade to 'buy' at Deutsche Bank.

888 Holdings rallied as the online gambling company lifted its dividend despite a sharp fall in annual pre-tax profits on the back of higher costs.

On the downside, M&G, CRH, Hikma and Segro were all weaker as their stock went ex-dividend.

National Grid lost ground after it agreed to buy Western Power Distribution from PPL Corp of the US for £7.8bn and to sell Narragansett Electric to PPL for $3.8bn (£2.7bn) to shift its business towards electricity.

National Express fell after saying it swung to a loss in 2020 as it took a hit from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ocado nudged lower after the online supermarket said it expects positive revenue growth in the second quarter after reporting a 40% rise in revenue for the 13 weeks to the end of February as more Britons had their groceries delivered during the current national lockdown.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 6,761.58 -0.02% FTSE 250 (MCX) 21,608.13 0.23% techMARK (TASX) 4,207.65 0.05%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,744.50p 2.11% Fresnillo (FRES) 961.20p 2.10% Scottish Mortgage Inv Trust (SMT) 1,162.00p 2.02% Evraz (EVR) 551.00p 2.00% Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) 287.80p 1.95% BHP Group (BHP) 2,113.50p 1.88% Rightmove (RMV) 565.40p 1.73% Polymetal International (POLY) 1,510.50p 1.65% Glencore (GLEN) 286.95p 1.65% Informa (INF) 584.00p 1.57%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

M&G (MNG) 201.00p -6.12% BT Group (BT.A) 147.70p -3.15% National Grid (NG.) 816.20p -1.83% Persimmon (PSN) 2,931.00p -1.48% Spirax-Sarco Engineering (SPX) 11,355.00p -1.43% Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 2,183.00p -1.36% CRH (CDI) (CRH) 3,314.00p -1.34% Compass Group (CPG) 1,519.50p -1.33% Intertek Group (ITRK) 5,532.00p -1.25% Experian (EXPN) 2,436.00p -1.14%

FTSE 250 - Risers

888 Holdings (888) 360.50p 8.10% Cineworld Group (CINE) 122.15p 5.71% Hammerson (HMSO) 39.21p 4.03% Vectura Group (VEC) 120.00p 3.27% Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 96.50p 2.99% Ferrexpo (FXPO) 370.40p 2.83% Micro Focus International (MCRO) 485.50p 2.82% Carnival (CCL) 1,756.50p 2.39% Hochschild Mining (HOC) 211.60p 2.32% Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 2,048.00p 2.09%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Crest Nicholson Holdings (CRST) 361.60p -5.54% OSB Group (OSB) 436.40p -5.50% National Express Group (NEX) 306.60p -2.29% Spirent Communications (SPT) 235.50p -2.28% XP Power Ltd. (DI) (XPP) 4,860.00p -2.21% Syncona Limited NPV (SYNC) 265.50p -1.85% BMO Global Smaller Companies (BGSC) 150.00p -1.57% Provident Financial (PFG) 186.10p -1.43% Greggs (GRG) 2,136.00p -1.29% Dunelm Group (DNLM) 1,327.00p -1.26%
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