Economic news

FTSE 100 Falls as High Bond Yields, Energy Stocks Weigh

March 19 (Reuters) - London’s FTSE 100 fell on Friday, hit by higher bond yields globally, while energy stocks dropped as fresh coronavirus lockdowns across Europe dampened hopes of a swift recovery in fuel demand.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index was down 0.5%, with oil heavyweights BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc falling 0.9% and 1.8%, respectively.

Bank and mining stocks including HSBC holdings, Barclays, Rio Tinto, Anglo American and BHP Group were also among the biggest drags on the index.

The domestically focused mid-cap FTSE 250 index fell 0.6%, dragged down by industrial stocks.

“Markets have come to price in a rate hike in a couple of years and the Bank of England has not offered strong pushback against that,” said James Smith, developed markets economist at ING.

“The U.S. Federal Reserve is also not showing any kind of desire to talk about an early rate hike and that really opens the door to further rises in bond yields and puts pressure on risk assets.”

The yield on the U.S. benchmark 10-year Treasury note jumped to 14-month highs on Thursday after the Fed indicated its willingness to let inflation temporarily run higher than its target of 2%.

The jump in yields has pushed up the dollar, hitting riskier currencies including the euro and the British pound.

In the UK, data showed consumer morale jumped to a one-year high in March as the public became increasingly confident of a strong economic rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pub operator J D Wetherspoon fell 1.7%, after posting a half-yearly loss, compared with a year-earlier profit, as hundreds of its pubs across the UK were shuttered through the key holiday season due to coronavirus restrictions.

Natwest Group rose 1.3%, after agreeing to buy back 1.1 billion pounds ($1.53 billion) of shares from the British government.

(Reporting by Shivani Kumaresan in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M. and Subhranshu Sahu)

Source: Reuters

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