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FTSE flat on stronger pound and Wall Street advances as jobless claims rise

How major markets are performing on Thursday

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 03: People walk along Wall Street outside of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on May 03, 2023 in New York City. The Dow was slightly lower in morning trading as investors wait to see later today if the Federal Reserve will continue to raise interest rates. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
FTSE falls and Wall Street advances amid strengthening pound. (Spencer Platt via Getty Images)

European stock markets were mainly in the red on Thursday, while Wall Street advanced, as UK house prices rose for a second month in a row and US jobless claims also rose.

In London, the FTSE 100 (^FTSE) was trading flat by the end of the day, as a strengthening pound weighed on the exporter-heavy index and while elevated government bond yields also dampened risk appetite.

The CAC (^FCHI) was treading water in Paris and the Frankfurt DAX (^GDAXI) was also 0.1% lower, retreating from its record high on Wednesday. The STOXX 600 (^STOXX) was 0.2% down at the time of writing.

The personal goods sector led declines early on, falling more than 2%.

Across the pond, the S&P 500 (^GSPC) rose 0.5% by the time of the European close, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq (^IXIC) was 0.9% higher. The Dow Jones (^DJI) was flat.

"The outperformance on European markets appears to be being driven by the increasing belief that the European Central Bank may well be forced into cutting rates sharply in the early part of 2024 in response to sharply slowing inflation and a sclerotic economy," Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said.

"The last few days has seen a sharp decline in bond yields reflecting an increasing belief on the part of investors that rather than higher for longer, central banks will start cutting rates as soon as Q2 next year.

"The shift in tone has been most notable from several ECB policymakers who have indicated that rate hikes are done."

Meanwhile, Neil Wilson at Markets.com said: "The market is already pricing in a lot of cuts next year and it’s unclear if the narrative can hold beyond the FOMC and ECB next week. Soft jobs figures so far are not undermining it."

Read more: Trending tickers: AMD | Rivian | C3.ai | Frasers

It came as average UK property values climbed 0.5% to £283,615 in November, some £1,300 more than October, according to new figures from lender Halifax.

It was the second monthly gain in a row after six consecutive falls before that. This was thanks to a shortage of properties available on the market and some mortgage relief.

However, it was still a 1% drop compared with the same time a year ago, and a steep fall from the 3.1% decline in the year to October.

Read more: UK house prices rise in November amid property shortage

Kim Kinnaird, director at Halifax Mortgages, said: “The resilience seen in house prices during 2023 continues to be underpinned by a shortage of properties available, rather than any significant strengthening of buyer demand.”

She added: “With mortgage rates starting to ease slightly, this may be leading to increased buyer confidence, seeing people more inclined to push ahead with their home purchases.”

Meanwhile, the number of Americans applying for jobless benefits rose last week, new data from the Labour Department revealed. Overall the number of people in the US collecting unemployment benefits fell after hitting its highest level in two years last week.

Unemployment benefits claims rose by 1,000 to 220,000 for the week ending 2 December, in line with analyst expectations.

Around 1.86 million were collecting unemployment benefits the week that ended 25 November, 64,000 fewer than the previous week. It was the second time in 11 weeks that continuing claims have fallen.

Live coverage is over
  • Latoya Harding

    Markets close and recap

    Well that's all we have time for today, thanks for following along. Be sure to join us again tomorrow.

    Here's a quick reminder of some of the top stories from today...

    UK house prices rise in November

    US jobless claims rise

    Shopping with cash rises for first time in a decade

    South East Water suffers £3m hit from heatwaves and supply interruptions Frasers Group expects growth in 2025 and beyond

    Aldi raises pay for workers to £12 minimum

    Gold rises on expectations of Fed rate cut

    Have a good evening!

  • Latoya Harding

    Games Workshop pays staff £2,500 bonus

    Warhammer maker Games Workshop tumbled as much as 13% on Thursday after it announced it was set to pay all its staff a £2,500 Christmas bonus.

    The payout, a combined £7.5m, is up from £1,500 per employee last year.

    It comes as half-year profits rose 12.4% to £94m, on sales of £235m, also up on last year.


    Jefferies analysts Andrew Wade and Grace Gilberg flagged “markedly slower” growth in the second quarter, while Peel Hunt analysts said numbers were “consistent with our full-year forecasts”.

  • Latoya Harding

    Shopping with cash rises for first time in a decade

    The use of cash for shopping transactions has grown for the first time in 10 years amid a sharp cost of living crisis and budgeting.

    The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said 19% of purchases were made with notes and coins last year, up from 15% the previous year.

    Hannah Regan, policy adviser, said:

    "We are now seeing a return to many of the pre-pandemic trends in payments, including smaller but more frequent purchases, and a slight return of cash payments.

    "Unfortunately, what has not changed, is the ever-increasing scale of fees paid by retailers in order to accept card payments."

    It comes as ministers say banks will be fined if money cannot be withdrawn or deposited.

    Under government rules, free withdrawals and deposits will need to be available within one mile for people living in urban areas. In rural areas, where there are concerns over "cash deserts", the maximum distance is three miles.

  • Latoya Harding

    US jobless claims rise

    The number of Americans applying for jobless benefits rose last week, new data from the Labour Department revealed.

    Overall the number of people in the US collecting unemployment benefits fell after hitting its highest level in two years last week.


    Unemployment benefits claims rose by 1,000 to 220,000 for the week ending 2 December, in line with analyst expectations.


    Around 1.86 million were collecting unemployment benefits the week that ended November 25, 64,000 fewer than the previous week. It was the second time in 11 weeks that continuing claims have fallen.

  • Latoya Harding

    Gold rises on expectations of Fed rate cut

    Gold prices (GC=F) are trading steadily above the $2,000 mark, which is becoming a significant support level.

    Ricardo Evangelista, senior analyst at ActivTrades, said:

    The bullion price is benefiting from growing expectations that the Federal Reserve will soon pivot and start cutting rates. A significant number of observers believe that the first cut may come as early as March 2024, but this is not a majority view yet.

    The consensus amongst investors is that the Fed will act according to the data; however, with inflation decreasing faster than predicted and the economy cooling down, the planets are aligning for a rate cut within the first half of 2024.”

    Against this background, the softening of the dollar and treasury yields is likely to continue, in a dynamic that may create scope for further gains for the precious metal.

  • Latoya Harding

    Why you could pay more tax in 2024 – and five ways to avoid it

    Tax: Chancellor of the exchequer Jeremy Hunt
    Tax: Chancellor of the exchequer Jeremy Hunt

    You’d be forgiven for thinking you paid quite enough tax this year, so it’s horrible to think that next year there’s every chance you could pay even more.

    Because while Jeremy Hunt announced a National Insurance cut from January in the autumn statement, a host of other taxes are set to rise.

    The good news is that for the average person, the NI cut means they’ll pay less tax on income – but that’s not the case for everyone.

    The four million people who’ll eventually be dragged into paying income tax for the first time will still be worse off, and those who got pay rises taking them into the higher rate tax bracket could pay more tax too if the higher rate outweighs the NI saving.

    Read more here

  • Latoya Harding

    Hedge fund co-founded by Jacob Rees-Mogg to close

    The hedge fund co-founded by Jacob Rees-Mogg is set to close after its biggest client left.


    Somerset Capital Management lost about £2bn in assets from the exit of St James’s Place, leaving it managing only about £1bn. The firm said it was “closing its wider institutional business in London”.


    The Conservative MP co-founded the firm in 2007, and was actively involved for several years.


    Oliver Crawley, a partner at Somerset, said:

    It has been a privilege to manage capital for world-leading institutions and clients for over 16 years. I am incredibly proud of all we have achieved in that time through the hard work and skill of our dedicated team.


    The current teams have delivered strong performance for their investors and continue to do so. We hope a transition can be secured which we believe will give the funds a bright future.

  • Latoya Harding

    Wall Street set to open mixed

    We have just over an hour before the opening bell in New York. Here's how things are shaping up...

    S&P 500 futures (ES=F) are currently up 0.1%, Dow futures (YM=F) have lost 0.1%, and Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) are 0.3% lower.

    It comes as traders are cautious ahead of the monthly payrolls report due on Friday.

  • Latoya Harding

    Bitcoin rally stokes $50k speculation over spot ETF anticipation

    Bitcoin (BTC-USD) surged by nearly 16% in the past week, surpassing the $44,000 (£35,000) mark on Wednesday, reaching a multi-year high.

    Bitcoin was down 1.13% to $43,358.98 on Thursday.

    Crypto derivatives traders are speculating on bitcoin's value appreciating in early 2024, according to Velo Data. The most traded group of options in the past 24 hours has been for calls at the strike price of $50,000 for the end of January expiry date.

    A call gives a trader the right, but not the obligation, to buy the underlying asset at a specific price in the future. Traders purchasing the right to buy bitcoin at $50,000 in early 2024 suggests they expect the market price to rise above this level.

    Read the full article here

  • Latoya Harding

    Aldi raises pay for workers to £12 minimum

    Man buying fruit & veg in Aldi supermarket. UK
    Man buying fruit & veg in Aldi supermarket. UK

    German supermarket chain Aldi has raised the minimum pay for store and warehouse workers to £12 per hour.


    The new minimum rate increases to £13.55 within the M25 to account for a higher cost of living in London. Store assistants’ pay will rise to £12.95 nationally, and £13.85 within the M25, according to length of service.


    Aldi said the change means it is the first supermarket to offer rates in line with the real living wage that was set by the Living Wage Foundation in October this year, which will cost it £67m annually.


    Giles Hurley, chief executive of Aldi UK and Ireland, said the company was “committed to being the highest-paying supermarket in the sector.”

Watch: How does inflation affect interest rates?

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