LONDON: UK stock indexes fell on Friday to log their biggest weekly decline since mid-June as concern mounted about a cost-of-living crisis and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the US central bank will raise rates further to try to tame inflation.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index, which comprises companies with global operations, ended 0.7% lower led by declines in industrial and financial stocks, while the domestically-focused FTSE 250 index slipped 0.4%.
Holiday Inn-owner IHG slid 4.4% to the bottom of the FTSE 100 index after JP Morgan downgraded the stock to “neutral” from “overweight”.
The US economy will need tight monetary policy “for some time” before inflation is under control, Powell said on Friday in remarks that warned of slower growth, a weaker job market and “some pain” for households and businesses.
He said people should not expect the Fed to dial back its monetary policy until the inflation problem is fixed.
“Chair Powell threw cold water on the market’s belief that the Fed will move to marginally restrictive policy and then pause,” Jeff Klingelhofer, co-head of investments at Thornburg Investment Management, said.
“The Fed will not rest until they gain significant confidence that inflation is on a clear path back toward 2%, and at this time they are telling us this is not the case.” Both the FTSE 100 and the FTSE 250 index logged weekly declines, with the latter sliding 3.6% in reflection of the impact of surging prices on business activity and the central bank policymakers’ aggressive tone on interest rates despite signs of economic slowdown.
British energy bills will rise 80% to an average of 3,549 pounds ($4,188) a year from October, regulator Ofgem said, calling it a crisis that needed to be tackled by urgent and decisive government action.
Among the gainers on Friday, Micro Focus International Plc soared 94.1% after Canada’s OpenText said it agreed to acquire the enterprise software maker in an all-cash deal of $6 billion including debt.
Oil major Shell edged higher but peer BP ended down 0.4% after sources told Reuters that the timing for the start of its Whiting, Indiana refinery is unknown.