Economic news

London Stocks Fall, Prudential Drops; Spring Budget in Focus

  • Prudential at the bottom of FTSE 100
  • Precious metal miners down over 2%
  • Spring budget in sight
  • FTSE 100 down 1.4%, FTSE 250 off 1.3%

March 15 (Reuters) - London stocks fell on Wednesday as Prudential touched the bottom of the FTSE 100 index after its annual results, with investors awaiting the UK spring budget due later in the day.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 was down 1.4% after jumping more than 1% on Tuesday.

Prudential fell 6.3% despite the Asia-focused insurer reporting an 8% jump in full-year year profit. The company's chief financial officer James Turner also said the insurer had a $1 million exposure to Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), which was "minimal" against a total debt book of $23 billion.

"The now fully Asia- and Africa-focussed giant hasn't done enough to offset wider market concerns though, with the group's minimal $1 million exposure to SVB a potential cause for overreaction," said Sophie Lund-Yates, a lead equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

The wider life insurance index fell 4.2%, hitting a near three-month low.

Investors would be keenly awaiting the UK's spring budget, with Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt due to make a budget speech to parliament at around 1230 GMT.

"From a market perspective, one of the definitions of success is if there isn't much of a market reaction (to the budget)," said Richard Flax, chief investment officer at Moneyfarm.

"There's a desire to have a budget that is digested by markets relatively painlessly."

Lower gold prices weighed on precious metal miners, dragging the index down 1.9%.

British markets have been very volatile for the past few days, as the collapse of SVB spurred contagion fears across the world, with British lenders taking the brunt of the selloff in the UK.

UK banks fell over 1% after a brief recovery on Tuesday.

The more domestically-focussed FTSE 250 midcap index also lost 1.3%, with IG Group falling 6.7% after the online trading platform said its quarterly active clients fell.

Reporting by Shashwat Chauhan in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Uttaresh Venkateshwaran

Source: Reuters

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