London stocks fall ahead of BoE rate decision, banks down

London stocks fall ahead of BoE rate decision, banks down

23 Mar    Finance News, PMN Business, REU

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The exporter-heavy FTSE 100 fell on Thursday, dragged down by a strengthening pound, while financial stocks were among the top decliners ahead of what will likely be the Bank of England’s eleventh straight interest rate hike later in the day.

The FTSE 100 fell 0.7%, after recording its highest closing level in more than a week on Wednesday.

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The pound rose against the dollar after the U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rates by an expected 25 basis points (bps) on Wednesday, but indicated it was on the verge of pausing further increases after a global banking rout.

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The focus now shifts to the BoE, which is widely expected to also raise its lending rate by 25 bps at 1200 GMT. Expectations had shifted sharply after data on Wednesday showed an unexpected rise in UK inflation.

“It’s highly unlikely that the BoE would diverge from other central banks,” said Julien Lafargue, chief market strategist at Barclays Private Bank.

“We do expect the bank to adopt a similar strategy, which is to hike, while acknowledging potential risks.”

UK banks lost 1.7% after two straight days of gains.

Ahead of its decision on interest rates, the BoE said in a letter to lawmakers that more sharp moves in asset prices could expose weaknesses in parts of Britain’s financial system.

The more domestically focussed FTSE 250 midcap index fell 0.3%.

Helping limit losses were precious metal miners , which gained 2.1% as gold prices gained on the softening of the dollar.

Fears of a banking crisis after the collapse of two U.S. regional lenders and troubles at Swiss bank Credit Suisse have rattled global markets recently

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The FTSE 100 has erased most of its gains for the year and is now up 1%.

Informa dropped 2.7% after Morgan Stanley cut its rating on the events organizer’s stock to “equal-weight” from “overweight.” (Reporting by Shashwat Chauhan in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza and Anil D’Silva)

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