Defensive stocks lead rebound in FTSE 100
UK’s FTSE 100 rose on Friday, lifted by defensive stocks at the end of a choppy week that saw investor anxiety over hawkish central banks, weak economic readings and heightened risks of a global recession.
The blue-chip index climbed 2.7%, with the biggest rises in healthcare and consumer staples stocks that tend to decouple from economic cycles.
The domestically focussed FTSE 250 rose 2.3%. Both the FTSE 100 and the mid-cap index snapped a three-week run of losses.
Data showed British retail sales volumes slid by 0.5% in May, showing that consumers cut back on shopping in the face of rapid inflation last month, and an increase in sales in April was revised down sharply.
Separate figures showed consumer confidence in the UK hit a record low this month.
“It is not just the rising bills of today that are worrying us, it is the prospect of even higher bills tomorrow, and fears of a looming recession, which might cause our finances to unravel entirely,” Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Sarah Coles said.
Adding to uncertainty, Boris Johnson’s Conservatives lost two parliamentary seats on Friday, a crushing blow to the governing party that has intensified doubts about the future of Britain’s prime minister.
Among stocks, Carnival Corp gained 8.7% after the cruise operator forecast a positive core profit for the current quarter, as it returns to full operations even as decades-high inflation and surging fuel costs continue to bite.
Ultra Electronics gained 12.3% after Britain moved forward on approving the acquisition of the defense firm by rival Cobham, after having raised security concerns over the planned transaction.
Shares of GSK rose 2.1% after French drugmaker Sanofi said the vaccine against the Omicron variant of COVID-19, which the two companies worked on jointly, had proved effective. (Reporting by Boleslaw Lasocki in Gdansk and Amal S in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich, Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Andrew Heavens)