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FTSE 100 ends flat as weak materials, financials offset defensive gains

Mar 10, 2021

By Shivani Kumaresan and Amal S

(Reuters) – London’s FTSE 100 ended little changed on Wednesday as easing inflation concerns pulled down mining and banks stocks and pushed flows into defensive sectors such as consumer staples and healthcare.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index ended down 0.1%, with mining stocks, including Rio Tinto, BHP Group, Anglo American and BHP, falling between 1% and 3%. [MET/L]

“The weakness that we saw yesterday in terms of Treasury yields followed up with some kind of consolidation and now seeing a rebound, so I think that, to some extent, is putting a little bit of pressure on the UK,” said Josh Mahony, analyst at IG Group.

“We’re starting to see some fears around what might happen if Chinese stimulus got pulled away based on what and how supportive commodity prices are going to be in that kind of environment.”

A report on U.S. consumer prices soothed recent fears over a spike in inflation, bringing down Treasury yields and giving bond-sensitive sectors more breathing room. Global stocks also rose after the reading. [MKTS/GLOB]

Recent pressure from high yields had weighed on high valuations in equities, although UK stocks saw a smaller impact due to having underperformed their global peers through 2020.

Defensive plays including consumer staples, healthcare and utilities, and oil majors BP and Royal Dutch Shell, were the top boosts to the FTSE 100 on Wednesday.

The domestically focused mid-cap FTSE 250 index ended a shade higher, on strength in major asset managers and healthcare stocks.

Frankie & Benny’s owner Restaurant Group rose 2.7%, after saying it was planning to raise 175 million pounds ($242.7 million) through a share sale.

Royal Mail gained 3.6% after it raised its annual profit forecast on Wednesday, citing stronger-than-expected advertising, business and stamped mail volumes this year.

Real estate agency Foxtons Group Plc gained 10.2%, after it said more tenants are filling buildings in London, attracted by a 12% drop in rental prices during the COVID-19 pandemic.

(Reporting by Shivani Kumaresan and Amal S in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Bernadette Baum)