Wednesday, September 27

Defensive stocks lead rebound in FTSE 100

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UK’s FTSE 100 rose on Friday, lifted by defensive stocks at the end of a choppy week that saw investor anxiety over hawkish central banks, weak economic readings and heightened risks of a global recession.

The blue-chip index climbed 1.2%, with healthcare and consumer staples stocks that tend to decouple from economic cycles, rising the most. The domestically focussed FTSE 250 also rose 1.2%.

The FTSE 100 was set to snap a three-week run of losses, while the mid-cap index was on pace for its fourth consecutive weekly decline.

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Data showed British retail sales volumes slid by 0.5% in May, showing that consumers cut back on shopping in the face of rapid inflation last month, and an increase in sales in April was revised down sharply.

A separate data showed consumer confidence in the UK hit a record low this month.

“It is not just the rising bills of today that are worrying us, it is the prospect of even higher bills tomorrow, and fears of a looming recession, which might cause our finances to unravel entirely,” Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Sarah Coles said.

Adding to worries, Boris Johnson’s Conservatives lost two parliamentary seats on Friday, a crushing blow to the governing party that has intensified doubts about the future of Britain’s prime minister.

Among stocks, Ultra Electronics gained 12.6% after Britain moved forward on approving the acquisition of the defense firm by rival Cobham, after having raised security concerns over the planned transaction.

Shares of GSK rose 1.5% after French drugmaker Sanofi said the vaccine against the Omicron variant of COVID-19, which the two companies worked on jointly, had proved effective.

(Reporting by Boleslaw Lasocki in Gdansk; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)