Market report

Jobs and inflation data remain focus for investors

London and financial services
Investors are looking to key economic data

Investors gave scant attention to the UK Cabinet reshuffle and instead focused on inflation data releases from the UK and the US due this week.

Danni Hewson, AJ Bell head of financial analysis, noted: “This is going to be quite a week. Putting aside the political shenanigans that have been taking place behind closed doors on Downing Street today, markets were already braced for impact.

“We’ve got the double whammy of UK jobs data [Tuesday], which will give us an indication of how hot that important wage growth figure remains, and investors will also be casting their eyes stateside as the latest US inflation print is revealed.

“No one is expecting any real surprises from either of those numbers, although they will be closely monitored by central bankers trying to keep the lid on rate cut expectations, which markets are broadly anticipating will start in late spring.

“For the Bank of England, the big test will come the day after, when we find out if inflation did indeed cruise under 5% in October for the first time in two years.”

London markets closed firmly, maintaining their positive momentum from the end of last week. The FTSE 100 gained 0.89% to close at 7,425.83 points, while the FTSE 250 registered an upward swing of 0.34%.

UK house prices fell in November as sellers adjusted their expectations to facilitate sales, according to fresh industry data.

Rightmove’s latest house price index revealed a 1.7% drop in the average new selling asking price, settling at £362,143. That decline represented the sharpest November drop since 2018, with prices falling 1.3% annually.

The UK’s busiest airport, Heathrow, reported an 18% year-on-year increase in passenger numbers for October, reaching 6.96 million, up from 5.89 million in October last year.

Over the first 10 months of 2023, passenger numbers surged 32% year-on-year to 66.32 million, while air transport movements increased 23% to 378,710.

In equity markets, Phoenix Group rose 5.44% to 490.5p to reach the top of the FTSE 100 risers’ board after raising its full-year cash generation targets following the successful merger of its Standard Life and Phoenix Life businesses into a single entity.

Vodafone said it had signed an agreement with Accenture, one of the world’s biggest consultancy groups, to form a new shared services joint venture. Vodafone’s shares rose 1p, or 1.3%, to 77.5p.

British Land Company gained 2.1% after reporting a decline in half-year net asset value but expressing optimism about rental value growth, expecting it to be at the upper end of its previously guided ranges for 2024.

BAE Systems edged up 0.27% after it reported trading in line with expectations after a strong third quarter and £10bn in orders booked since the half-year stage.

Royal Mail owner International Distributions Services fell 1.04% after Ofcom imposed a £5.6m fine on the company for missing postal delivery targets in the last financial year.

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