London-listed shares tracked declines in Asian stock markets on Thursday as the lack of new stimulus measures by the U.S. Federal Reserve dulled investor sentiment ahead of a Bank of England policy meeting.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 and the mid-cap FTSE 250 were down 0.7% and 0.6%, respectively, with financials and mining stocks being among the biggest decliners.
All eyes later in the day will be on the Bank of England meeting, where it is expected to signal yet more stimulus as the economy heads for a jump in unemployment and a possible Brexit shock.
“The meeting comes against the backdrop of rising Brexit uncertainty, which will only serve to heighten (market)uncertainty and weaken confidence,” said Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid.
A raft of global stimulus has powered global equity markets since a coronavirus-driven crash in March, but gains have slowed recently against the backdrop of a wobbly economic rebound and, in Europe, growing fears of a no-deal Brexit.
Investors have also been disappointed by the absence of more liquidity measures. Asian shares snapped a five-day winning streak on Thursday after the Federal Reserve pledged to keep interest rates low for a long time but stopped short of offering more stimulus.
In the UK, tech-focussed investment firms were biggest drags on the FTSE 250 following another sell-off in U.S. technology stocks on Wednesday.
Gambling software maker Playtech tumbled 7.0% as it posted a lower first-half profit, but clothing retailer Next rose 1.7% after it raised its profit outlook for the second time in two months.
“This is a remarkable turn in fortunes from what (Next’s) business was facing as recently as a couple of months ago,” said Michael Hewson, market analyst at CMC Markets UK.
“That is not to say that the outlook for the second half isn’t going to be a challenging one, but it’s good to know that there are some retail stocks that are dealing with the various challenges head on.”
(Reporting by Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)