Belfast Telegraph

FTSE 100 ends week in negative territory

Traders are worried about interest rate hikes from the Fed and the political situation in Italy.

The FTSE 100 ended the week in the red as concerns over the prospect of rising US interest rates and the stand-off between Rome and Brussels conspired to hit stocks.

London’s top tier closed down 35.34 points, or 0.49%, at 7,105.34.

It came following the US Federal Reserve meeting, where policymakers signalled that interest rate hikes are on the cards.

David Madden, market analyst at CMC, said: “Traders are worried about interest rate hikes from the Fed, and the political situation in Italy.

“The US central bank announced that additional interest rate hikes are in the pipeline, and this has soured sentiment.

“Rome and Brussels are at loggerheads over the proposed budget. Italy’s economy minister, Giovanni Tria, said that the EU’s proposal to reduce the deficit would be economic ‘suicide’.”

In stocks, SSE was in the doldrums amid fears its merger with rival npower has been left “in a shambles” after being delayed due to the incoming cap on default tariff prices.

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SSE’s merger with npower has been delayed (PA)

The pair said they are renegotiating the terms of their tie-up as a result of the cap, which is set to see the deal delayed.

Energy experts at Jefferies said the merger was left in a “shambles”, with worries for the future viability of the deal, which aims to create the UK’s second-biggest gas and electricity supplier.

The two firms had been hoping to seal the merger of their retail operations in the first quarter of 2019 after it was recently given the green light by the competition watchdog. SSE shares were down 30p at 1,152.5p at the close.

Informa shares were in the ascendancy after the events business booked underlying revenue growth of 3.9% in the first 10 months of the year of rival UBM.

This puts the company on track to meet its underlying revenue growth target of 3.5%. Informa also confirmed that it is on track to make savings of at least £50 million in 2019, with more synergies pencilled in.

Investors lapped up the news, sending shares to the top of the FTSE 100, closing up 18.4p at 710.6p.

Sterling, meanwhile, took a dive off the back of more Brexit uncertainty and the resignation of Jo Johnson from Theresa May’s Government.

Mr Johnson – brother of Brexit backer Boris – quit as transport minister and minister for London in order to vote against the EU divorce deal whenever it comes before Parliament and called for the public to be given a second referendum.

The British currency was down 0.6% versus the US dollar at 1.297. Against the euro, the pound was trading down 0.3% at 1.146.

In Europe, Germany’s DAX was up a meagre 0.02% and France’s CAC was down 0.48%.

A barrel of Brent crude was trading at 69 US dollars, a decline of 1.4%.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Informa up 18.4p at 710.6p, EasyJet up 26p at 1,254p, Imperial Brands up 56p at 2,750p and National Grid up 15.7p at 855.7p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Burberry down 91p at 1,773.5p, Antofagasta down 39.8p at 778.2p, DS Smith down 18.2p at 357.8p and Fresnillo down 42p at 861p.

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