The UK stock market ended the week on a downbeat note after weak US inflation figures and less than inspiring results from Wall Street banks.
The FTSE 100 shed 35 points or 0.5% to 7,378, up just 0.2% for the week with Royal Mail (RMG) a big faller, down 2.4% or 10p to 401p, after Unite the union said it would ballot its members on the company’s offer to replace its costly final salary pension scheme with a less expensive ‘defined benefit’, or contributions-based, plan.
Carillion (CLLN), up nearly a penny to 56p, finally curbed a 70% plunge from this week’s profits warning after the struggling construction and support services group hired HSBC as its joint financial adviser, a move seen as a prelude to a big rights issue to plug its contract losses.
On currency markets the pound jumped 1.1% to $1.3081 against the dollar as traders assessed the likelihood of the Bank of England reversing its post-Brexit vote cut in interest rates next month.
August will mark a year since the bank cut the base rate to a new low of 0.25% from 0.5% and comes in a week that has seen good employment figures underline some of the positives in the UK economy, despite the Brexit pressures.
‘Dovish’ comments from US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen last night coupled with soft US inflation data for June and a surprise drop in American retail sales fuelled doubts as to whether the Fed will sanction its third interest rate rise this year.
She told Congress that the central bank’s funds rate may not have to rise ‘much further’ to normalise US monetary policy.
On Wall Street the S&P 500 edged 0.25% higher to 2,453 as second quarter results form JPMorgan, Citigroup and Wells Fargo failed to impress.