UK’s FTSE 100 index closed higher on Thursday after a boost from oil majors and mining stocks on the back of rising crude and commodity prices, although gains were limited as investors were cautious ahead of an annual conference of world central bankers.
The blue-chip index inched 0.1% higher to end its three-day losing streak, with Shell and BP up over 1% each, and miners adding 1.1%. Ireland’s CRH jumped 3.4% to the top of FTSE 100 after the building materials firm reported strong first-half results.
“I think the stock markets, in theory, should be lower. Jackson Hole can sometimes be the moment central bankers are going to pivot in a certain direction,” David Madden, market analyst at Equiti Capital said. “Yields and bonds are up which would drive down stock markets much lower than they currently are, but they’re holding up fine, which is odd.”
Investors are bracing for hawkish signals from Fed Chair Jerome Powell when he speaks at the Jackson Hole symposium on Friday. His comments will be scrutinized for any indication that an economic slowdown might alter the Fed’s strategy and if the central bank can achieve a “soft landing” for the economy. The domestically exposed FTSE 250 index ended 0.3% lower and has fallen nearly 3.2% so far this week on growing concerns about a cost-of-living crisis.
Hays Plc rose 1.7% after the recruitment agency reported a 128% jump in annual profit due to a rise in demand for new staff as employers rush to fill vacancies. Harbour Energy climbed 10%, limiting losses on the midcap index after the UK North Sea’s biggest oil and gas producer increased a share buyback programme by 50%.
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