Global growth fears send FTSE 100 to near three-week lows

The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, Britain, Photographer Reuters/Toby Melville

By Reuters

UK’s FTSE 100 tumbled to near three-week lows on Wednesday after economic data highlighted growing risks of a recession, while investors braced for hawkish views from central bank policymakers as inflationary pressures remain elevated.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 slipped 0.4%, inching down for a third consecutive session. The midcap FTSE 250 index fell 0.5% to touch five-week lows. Business surveys released on Tuesday signalled the global economy is increasingly at risk of sliding into recession. In Britain, a fall in factory output slowed private sector activity in August.

Focus is on the Kansas City Federal Reserve’s annual summit in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, later this week with the U.S. central bank looking like it might avoid tipping the U.S. economy into recession, but the outlook for Europe is far more worrying.

“What’s stressing investors is the Jackson Hole summit and the comments from Powell that could have an impact on the rates and the equity market given the PMI data confirmed Europe’s economy is not in great shape,” said Roland Kaloyan, European equity strategist at Societe Generale.

Meanwhile, investors are betting on another 50-basis-point rate hike from the Bank of England next month as inflation continues to surge. A Citi economist warned earlier this week that consumer inflation could hit 18.6% in January, more than nine times the central bank’s target.

Still, the FTSE 100 has outperformed its global peers this year, helped by its exposure to mining and oil giants as well as financials that have benefited from a surge in commodity prices and sharp rise in interest rates.

“If we’re in an environment of higher energy prices in the medium-term, rising interest rates and dollar strength, we think UK markets will remain supported,” said Joseph Little, HSBC Asset Management’s chief global strategist.

Among single stocks, HSBC slipped 1.1% after China’s Ping An Insurance Group defended its call to spin off HSBC’s Asia business, saying it cared about investment returns from its large stake but was not an activist investor.

Lookers Plc rose 5.3% after the auto retailer resumed the payment of interim dividend to its share holders.