Rainbow Rare Earths Phalaborwa project shaping up to be one of the lowest cost producers globally. Watch the video here.

Less Ads, More Data, More Tools Register for FREE

LONDON MARKET MIDDAY: Stocks boosted as BoE keeps rates unchanged

Thu, 21st Mar 2024 12:19

(Alliance News) - Stock prices in London were higher at midday Thursday, after the Bank of England left interest rates unchanged, in a vote which remained split.

Sterling was quoted at USD1.2630 shortly after midday on Thursday, lower than USD1.2717 at the London equities close on Wednesday. Before the decision, the pound was trading at USD1.2753.

The FTSE 100 index was up 113.17 points, 1.5%, at 7,850.55. The FTSE 250 was up 186.65 points, 1.0%, at 19,671.05, and the AIM All-Share was up 4.66 points, 0.6%, at 740.25.

The Cboe UK 100 was up 1.3% at 785.16, the Cboe UK 250 was up 0.8% at 17,075.86, and the Cboe Small Companies was down 0.5% at 14,709.26.

In European equities on Thursday, the CAC 40 in Paris was down marginally, while the DAX 40 in Frankfurt was up 0.5%.

The Bank of England left interest rates unchanged at a 15-year high on Thursday but there was 'dovish' twist to the voting make-up, as two members of the Monetary Policy Committee dropped their call for rates to rise.

At its March meeting, the BoE kept the benchmark bank rate at 5.25%. It is the fifth successive hold, following one in September, which ended a streak of 14 consecutive hikes since December 2021, and three more in November, December and February. The BoE had rapidly increased bank rate from a Covid-19-induced low of 0.10%.

But there was a marked shift in the voting pattern with eight members of the MPC voting to leave interest rates unchanged with hawks Jonathan Haskel and Catherine Mann no longer recommending rates be increased.

Andrew Bailey, Sarah Breeden, Ben Broadbent, Megan Greene, Jonathan Haskel, Catherine Mann, Huw Pill and Dave Ramsden voted to leave interest rates unchanged. Swati Dhingra dissented, sticking to her view that rates should be cut by 25 basis points to 5%.

At the February meeting, six members of the MPC voted to keep interest rates unchanged.

Jonathan Haskel and Catherine Mann pressed the case for rates to be increased by 25 basis points, while Swati Dhingra suggested a 25bps cut, meaning a two-six-one division.

The BoE's interest rate decision follows the US Federal Reserve's on Wednesday.

The Fed left interest rates unmoved, as expected, while its latest set of projections still suggest three cuts will be in the offing this year. The central bank's federal funds rate range was unmoved at 5.25%-5.50%.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell refrained from giving a steer on when interest rates would be cut after projections showed three reductions are still on the cards in 2024.

"It didn't matter that yesterday's decision was to leave rates untouched, the market is focused on what might happen next and any fears that the Fed might become even more stubborn over changing monetary policy appear to have been blown out of the water," said AJ Bell's Russ Mould.

On the back of the decision, gold rallied to a fresh record above USD2,200 on Thursday. Gold was quoted at USD2,207.56 an ounce, higher against USD2,157.96.

Stocks in New York were called higher, after Wednesday's rally. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was called up 0.2%, the S&P 500 index up 0.3%, and the Nasdaq Composite up 0.7%.

The euro stood at USD1.0915, against USD1.0856. Against the yen, the dollar was trading at JPY150.98, compared to JPY151.61.

In the FTSE 100, Next surged 5.2%.

Statutory pretax profit in the 52 weeks to January 27 rose 17% to GBP1.02 billion from GBP869.3 million the year prior. The retailer said this included a GBP109 million exceptional gain from the Reiss acquisition, bought last September.

Excluding this, and brand amortisation, pretax profit climbed 5% to GBP918 million from GBP875 million last year, GBP3 million ahead of previous guidance.

Next said total group sales climbed 5.9% to GBP5.84 billion from GBP5.52 billion with Next full price sales up 4.0%.

3i jumped 5.0%.

The private equity and venture capital investor said its largest investee Action is off to a "strong start" this year, and said its other portfolio companies are showing "overall resilience".

In the FTSE 250, Dowlais lost 5.2%.

The automotive engineering spin-off of Melrose Industries, which listed in London back in April, said pretax loss widened in 2023 to GBP522 million from GBP63 million the year before. This resulted from a goodwill impairment of GBP449 million in 2023 compared to no such cost in 2022.

Revenue, however, rose by 5.7% to GBP4.86 billion from GBP4.60 billion a year prior, due to volume growth in its Automotive division, as well as inflation recoveries across the firm.

Looking ahead, Dowlais said it expects its 2024 revenue to be similar to that of 2023, noting expected industry-wide declines in global light vehicle production. It also said it expects its operating profit to be "modestly second half weighted".

On AIM, Cap-XX surged 56%.

The manufacturer of supercapacitors for portable electronic devices SAID that it has been signed a settlement agreement with Tesla.

"Whilst the terms of the settlement agreement are confidential, they do not involve payments to Tesla that the board of CAP-XX considers to be material to the company," Cap-XX says.

Back in September 2019, Cap-XX alleged that Maxwell Technologies had directly and indirectly infringed on CAP-XX's patents for several capacitor products. Maxwell, a California-based manufacturer of energy storage and power delivery products, was acquired by Tesla in 2019 for USD218 million.

However, last year, Tesla filed a counter complaint against Cap-XX in a US District Court, alleging infringement of two patents by Cap-XX.

Brent oil was quoted at USD85.77 a barrel at midday in London on Thursday, down from USD85.93 late Wednesday.

Still to come on Thursday's economic calendar, there is the weekly US initial jobless claims report. There is also a flash composite PMI reading from the US.

By Sophie Rose, Alliance News senior reporter

Comments and questions to newsroom@alliancenews.com

Copyright 2024 Alliance News Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Related Shares

More News
12 Jun 2024 20:42

Benign US inflation could support stock market laggards

NEW YORK, June 12 (Reuters) - Signs of falling U.S. inflation on Wednesday and growing hopes for interest rate cuts from the Federal Reserve could b...

12 Jun 2024 18:33

Benign US inflation could support stock market laggards

NEW YORK, June 12 (Reuters) - Signs of falling U.S. inflation on Wednesday and growing hopes for interest rate cuts from the Federal Reserve could b...

14 May 2024 12:54

ACS posts 8% rise in quarterly net profit as US business grows

MADRID, May 14 (Reuters) - Spanish builder ACS on Tuesday posted a 8% rise in first-quarter net profit, as the company continues to benefit from its...

14 May 2024 12:10

ACS posts 16% rise in quarterly profit as US business grows

MADRID, May 14 (Reuters) - Spanish builder ACS on Tuesday posted a 16% rise in first-quarter net profit, as the company continues to benefit from it...

7 May 2024 12:33

IN BRIEF: Cap-XX shares up as trading remains in line with forecasts

Cap-XX Ltd - Manufacturer of supercapacitors for portable electronic devices- Says trading for existing products remains strong and in line with manag...

Login to your account

Don't have an account? Click here to register.

Quickpicks are a member only feature

Login to your account

Don't have an account? Click here to register.