Belfast Telegraph

Sterling drops as investors focus on details of Federal Reserve meeting

Sterling lost ground on Wednesday as investors turned their attention to the release of minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting, which was expected to give clues about the US central bank's next rate hike.

The pound fell 0.2% versus the US dollar to 1.293, and dropped 0.1% versus the euro to 1.157.

Jasper Lawler, a senior market analyst at London Capital Group, said that details of the Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC) May meeting had stolen the attention of global investors.

"Dollar strength over the last 24 hours is likely a consequence of the consensus expectation that FOMC minutes will come down on the hawkish side and aid the expectation that there will be two more hikes this year and more talk of balance sheet shrinkage thereafter," he said.

"Should the minutes turn out a little more dovish than expected, perhaps mirroring the kind of concerns at the ECB (European Central Bank) at the impact of unwinding stimulus re shrinking the balance sheet, markets could come unstuck."

The weaker UK pound supported international stocks on the FTSE 100, which ended the day up 0.4% or 29.61 points at 7514.9, while the French Cac 40 and German Dax each fell 0.13%.

In oil markets, Brent crude prices slumped 0.6% to 53.78 US dollars per barrel despite reports that Opec and non-member oil producing states were nearing a deal that would see production cuts extended into the second half of 2017.

In UK stocks, Marks and Spencer Group shares rose 5.7p to 393.4p, having recovered from a drop in early trading after posting a 63.5% fall in annual bottom line pre-tax profits to £176.4 million.

I t also revealed that sales in its clothing business dropped 5.9% in the last three months.

Kingfisher shares slumped 25.2p to 334p, ending the day as the worst performing stock on the FTSE 100.

The B&Q owner posted a 0.6% decline in like-for-like sales in the three months to April 30, with comparable sales falling 5.5% in France.

Dixons Carphone shares topped the FTSE 250, rising 15.4p to 342p after reporting a 9% rise in annual sales.

Hollywood Bowl jumped 8.25p to 175.25p as it cheered an 18.5% surge in half-year earnings to £13 million after growing sales and revamping sites across the UK.

Shares in ZPG rose 9.8p to 367.9p as the company behind Zoopla and PrimeLocation reported a 22% rise in half-year revenue to £117.9 million, having racked up record traffic of more than 314 million visits to its sites and apps.

Britvic shares rose 17.5p to 720.5p as investors shrugged off a 4.9% fall in half-year profits, as the Robinsons squash firm clocked an 11.5% rise in revenues of £756.3 million for the period,

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were easyJet up 43p to 1,344p, Tui AG up 32p to 1,173p, Severn Trent up 62p to 2,553p, and WPP up 28p to 1,701p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Kingfisher down 25.2p to 334p, Mediclinic International down 56p to 813p, Randgold Resources down 105p to 7,135p, and Smurfit Kappa Group down 24p to 2,127p.