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Markets

Consumer companies, rate hike jitters push FTSE 100 lower

• Unilever shares near five-year low • UK employers add record number of jobs in December • FTSE 100 down...
Published January 19, 2022
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• Unilever shares near five-year low

• UK employers add record number of jobs in December

• FTSE 100 down 0.6pc, FTSE 250 off 1.0pc

LONDON: London’s FTSE 100 ended lower on Tuesday weighed down by shares of consumer companies and industrial stocks, while improving employment conditions in the UK and rising U.S. Treasury yields signalled growing bets of tighter monetary policies.

The blue-chip index fell 0.6%, with consumer-focussed companies such as Diageo and Unilever and industrial stocks under pressure.

Nasdaq traders were braced for a fresh pounding on Tuesday as a seven-year high for oil prices drove up global borrowing costs to pre-COVID levels, with even sub-zero German Bund yields at the brink of positive territory again.

“The recent swings in the U.S. Treasury have created a flutter in the global financial markets with market participants bracing for the beginning of a tighter monetary policy era, most likely from March 2022,” said Kunal Sawhney, chief executive at research firm Kalkine.

Meanwhile, data showed British employers added a record 184,000 staff to their payrolls in December, showing little sign of being affected by the impact of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

“Employment data for the quarter to November and the inflation (CPI) data slated to be released tomorrow could become a trigger for the next rate hike in February,” Sawhney added.

The FTSE 100 has outperformed the wider STOXX 600 since the beginning of this year as bets on increased interest rates lifted bank stocks and higher oil prices supported energy shares.

Unilever extended declines from the previous session, and was down 4.0%, near a five-year low, as the company signalled on Monday it would pursue a deal for GSK’s consumer business, calling it a “strong strategic fit”.

The domestically focussed mid-cap index fell 1.0%.

THG dropped 9.6% after the online retail platform warned its adjusted core earnings margin would fall short of market expectations due to adverse currency movements.

Just Group gained 8.2% as the insurer said its retirement income and new business profits grew last year.

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