UK’s FTSE 100 pressured by stronger pound; miners climb

By Medha Singh, Pranav Kashyap and Khushi Singh

(Reuters) -The UK’s blue-chip FTSE 100 index closed little changed on Wednesday, as a stronger pound overshadowed a boost from heavyweight mining, energy and bank stocks.

Precious metal miners firmed 2.1% as gold extended its recent record run, while energy stocks added 1% as oil prices continued to rise on supply risks. [GOL/] [O/R]

The exporter-heavy FTSE 100 was flat on the day as the pound firmed 0.5% to $1.26, with losses in shares of big dollar earners Unilever, Diageo and AstraZeneca weighing the most.

The index had fallen by as much as 0.7% earlier in the session as the recent pull back in U.S. rate cut bets weighed on global investor sentiment. [MKTS/GLOB]

“Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s speech later in the day might add some volatility to the mix,” said Axel Rudolph, senior market analyst at online trading platform IG.

Powell’s speech, which began around 1610 GMT, will be scrutinised for clues on his stance on interest rates. Jobs data from the world’s largest economy will also be on investor’s radar this week.

Data on Wednesday showed a surprise fall in euro zone inflation last month, solidifying the case for the European Central Bank to start lowering borrowing costs.

“UK investors are looking at European data as a prelude for what we may see in the UK later in the year,” said Ben Laidler, global markets strategist at eToro.

The more UK-centric FTSE 250 edged up 0.2% as industry data showed British supermarket total sales rose year-on-year in the four weeks to March 23 as slowing inflation encouraged shoppers to increase purchases.

Bank stocks firmed 1.6%.

Shares in Topps Tiles dropped nearly 4% after the retailer flagged subdued demand in the domestic repair and maintenance sector in 2024.

Renishaw fell 2.5% after Germany’s Siemens said it does not intend to make an offer for the engineering company.

(Reporting by Pranav Kashyap, Khushi Singh and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Mrigank Dhaniwala, Kirsten Donovan)


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