The FTSE 100 edged higher on Wednesday, supported by consumer discretionary and energy stocks, even as investors maintained a cautious stance ahead of Federal Reserve Chair’s speech for clues on the U.S. central bank’s rate-hike trajectory.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 was up 0.4%, as of 1018 GMT, and was set for its best month in two years. The domestically focused FTSE 250 midcap index gained 0.2%.
British markets have sharply recovered from their October lows, when a bungled mini-budget sent markets into a tailspin, as new leadership tries to restore investor confidence in the economy amid surging inflation and a severe cost-of-living crisis.
Hani Redha, portfolio manager at PineBridge Investments cites decreasing risk of energy rationing aiding views for cooling inflation.
“There is a lot of room for inflation to come down, and that’s what the market is picking up on and that has positive implications for consumer discretionary.”
Shares of Rolls-Royce rose 1.6% after Barclays initiated coverage of the automaker with an “overweight”, pushing the broader automobiles sector up 3%.
Flutter Entertainment was among the biggest gainers in the consumer discretionary sector, up 1.9% after JP Morgan raised the stock’s price target.
Energy stocks, along with precious and base metal miners were up around 1% each.
Focus has turned to Jerome Powell, who speaks later in the day in what will be the U.S. Fed chief’s last opportunity to steer sentiment ahead of the central bank’s December meeting.
Among single stocks, Pennon Group lost 3.4% after the utilities company reported a lower half-year pretax profit.