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FTSE 100: Wall Street slips despite strong US jobs growth and EU inflation fall

Wall Street and FTSE
People walk past the New York Stock Exchange. US stocks slipped at the open while the FTSE was underperforming against its peers on Wednesday. (Michael M. Santiago via Getty Images)

The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) and European stocks were a mixed bag on Wednesday, with Wall Street heading lower, as Eurozone inflation fell unexpectedly last month, and the US private sector added the most jobs in nine months.

Consumer prices rose by 2.4% in the year to March, down from the 2.6% rate in February, statistics office Eurostat revealed, thanks to a fall in energy prices that pulled down overall inflation. Economists were expecting a reading of 2.6%.

The decline will increase expectations of an interest rate cut by the European Central Bank (ECB), which is widely expected to loosen monetary policy at its meeting in June.

  • The FTSE was flat by the end of the day, paring back deeper losses

  • Germany's DAX (^GDAXI) rose almost 0.5% and the CAC (^FCHI) in Paris was 0.4% higher

  • The pan-European STOXX 600 (^STOXX) ended 0.3% higher

  • Wall Street opened lower as optimism in US rate cuts faded. The S&P 500 (^GSPC) fell 0.1%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) was flat. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) led declines, down almost 0.4%

  • Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell is due to give a speech later today

  • Gold prices (GC=F) climbed to fresh record highs, above $2293 an ounce.

Traders have scaled back their bets to the point where they expect a smaller, later easing than policymakers have projected.

Follow along for live updates throughout the day:

  • Well that's all we have time for today, thanks for following along... be sure to join us again tomorrow when we'll be back for more.

    Read our top story here:

    Eurozone inflation unexpectedly falls to 2.4%

    Have have a good evening all.

  • US bond yields hit highest point this year

    The US debt market has fallen after figures showed private sector hiring remained strong last month

    The yield on five-year and 30-year US Treasuries rose to their highest level so far this year to 4.39% and 4.55% respectively.

    Kathleen Brooks, research director at XTB, said:

    The market is increasingly assuming that a US rate cut is some months away. After another strong data report, this time the March ADP private sector payrolls report, the market is increasingly expecting fewer rate cuts from the Fed this year, with the first rate cut currently on a knife edge between July and September.

    The market is currently pricing in a 36% probability that the first-rate cut will be in September, this is up from 14 a month ago. The market is becoming increasingly less optimistic about the prospect of near-term rate cuts, and this is having an impact across financial markets.

  • Spotify to raise prices for audiobook listeners

    Spotify is planning to hike its prices for customers who listen to its audiobooks as it aims to push towards profitability.

    Audiobooks will reportedly no longer be covered under its premium plan, with customers wanting to listen being asked to pay an extra fee.

    The Swedish company said it would increase prices by between $1 and $2 a month in five markets around the world, including the UK, Bloomberg News reported.

    Shares have jumped by 6.6% on the day.

  • Virgin Atlantic set to make profit this year

    London, England, UK - 30 November 2023: Tail fins of Virgin Atlantic Airways jets at London Heathrow airport.
    London, England, UK - 30 November 2023: Tail fins of Virgin Atlantic Airways jets at London Heathrow airport. (Ceri Breeze)

    Virgin Atlantic said that it expects to make a profit this year, after narrowing its losses last year in the aftermath of the COVID pandemic.

    The airline, which is part-owned by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, said that losses before tax and exceptional items fell to £139m, down from £206m.

    Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic’s chief executive, said:

    In 2023, we capitalised on continued strong demand for leisure air travel and holidays, which shows that desire for experiences and travel remains, resulting in record revenues.

    A loss is never satisfactory; however, our performance and results illustrate that we have made really good progress in 2023, the plan is working, and Virgin Atlantic is on course to return to profitability in 2024.

  • US private sector adds most jobs in nine months

    Wall Street is set to open lower today despite US private companies hiring staff at the fastest rate in nine months.

    Private employers added 184,000 jobs in March, the biggest jump in hiring since July, new data found on Wednesday. This was led by the leisure and hospitality sectors.

    It was higher than the 150,000 estimated by analysts.

    ADP chief economist Nela Richardson said:

    March was surprising not just for the pay gains, but the sectors that recorded them. The three biggest increases for job-changers were in construction, financial services, and manufacturing.

    Inflation has been cooling, but our data shows pay is heating up in both goods and services.

  • Asda slips behind rivals

    Asda has slipped further behind its rivals after its sales growth ground to a halt, new figures reveal.

    The Telegraph has the details:

    Sales at Asda, which is owned by the billionaire Issa brothers and private equity firm TDR Capital, were up just 0.8pc in the last 12 weeks compared to last year, according to analysis firm NIQ.

    The supermarket’s growth was much slower than rivals Sainsbury’s and Tesco, which recorded rates of 7.9pc and 6.3pc respectively over the period. Marks & Spencer also posted growth of 11.2pc.

    The figures show Asda lagging behind all major rivals over the period, with its market share slipping to 11.7pc compared to 12.3pc a year earlier.

  • Afternoon European stocks update

    Well, we are now into the final half of trading in Europe and things are still fairly mixed today.

    Pierre Veyret, technical analyst at ActivTrades, said:

    "The appetite for riskier assets has been severely tempered this week as investors continue to observe better-than-anticipated macro data in Europe and the US, which has significantly fuelled the "higher for longer" case regarding borrowing rates.

    “As laid out in yesterday's report, the STOXX-50 index quickly fell back shortly after registering a new all-time high, a move that accelerated further following a strong CPI print in Germany and US JOLTs topping estimates in the afternoon.”

    "Good news is bad news" is clearly the new stance here. Investors remain cautious as economies continue to be resilient to the high rate environment, while central bankers still need further evidence that inflation is cooling down.”

    He added:

    “A batch of major US data loom, including the ADP Nonfarm Employment Change, the Services & Non-Manufacturing ISM PMIs, and the crude oil inventories, may boost market volatility in the afternoon, ahead of next Friday's US NFP report.”

  • Best UK mortgage deals of the week

    Average mortgage rates are unchanged from the previous week but overall homeowners are still struggling to find a decent mortgage rate.

    The average rate on a two-year fixed deal this week stood at 5.74%, while for a five-year deal, rates came in at 5.24%, according to figures from Uswitch.

    The market appears to be volatile, as the higher costs providers are paying to fund mortgage lending have pushed many lenders to axe some of the cheaper deals.

    This follows the Bank of England’s (BoE) decision to leave UK interest rates on hold at their current 16-year high of 5.25% for a fifth consecutive time.

    Read the full article here

  • Topps Tiles issues profit warning

    Topps Tiles shares are in the red after it issued a profit warning earlier today.

    The retailer reported am 11.3% fall in like-for-like sales in its second quarter to 30 March, which came in worse than the 7.1% drop seen in the previous quarter.

    Topps said this was partly due to the timing of Easter this year.

    It said.

    "Subdued demand in the domestic repair, maintenance and improvement sector, especially for bigger ticket projects, has persisted into 2024, resulting in lower footfall into Topps Tiles stores.”

    The firm added that first-half profits would be impacted by a number of factors, including the weaker market.

  • Royal Mail owner looking to cut delivery days

    The owner of Royal Mail has told the industry regulator it is looking to reduce second-class letters to just two or three days a week, axing almost 1,000 jobs in a bid to save £300m a year.

    International Distributions Services (IDS) told Ofcom it hopes to pare back the six-day, Monday to Saturday second class service to “every other weekday”.

    However, IDS has committed to continue to deliver first class letters from Monday to Saturday.

    Under the proposals, a postal worker may deliver on a single route on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, for example, and on another route Tuesday and Thursday of the same week. The speed of the second-class delivery would then depend on when the letter was posted.

    First-class letters would then likely be delivered using the network of Royal Mail vans used for parcels.

  • Homebuyer demand continues to climb

    File photo dated 20/07/23 of a woman looking at advertisements in an estate agents window. The number of mortgage approvals made to home buyers increased from 56,100 in January to 60,400 in February, according to Bank of England figures. Approvals for remortgaging also increased, from 30,900 to 37,700 during this period, according to the Money and Credit report. The annual growth rate for consumer credit slowed from 9.0% to 8.7%. Issue date: Tuesday April 2, 2024.

    The latest Homebuyer Hotspots Demand Index by estate agent comparison site,, has revealed that buyer demand has continued to climb in Q1 2024.

    This is up 1% compared to the final quarter of last year and returning to the same levels seen at the start of 2023.

    GetAgent’s Hotspots Demand Index monitors homebuyer demand across England on a quarterly basis.

    Current demand is based on the proportion of stock listed as already sold (sold subject to contract or under offer) as a percentage of all stock listed for sale. For example, if 100 homes are listed and 50 are already sold, the demand score would be 50%.

    The latest index shows that:

    • No less than 42% of all homes listed for sale across England had found a buyer in Q1 of this year. This marks a +1% increase in buyer demand levels when compared to Q4 2023, with the market returning to the same levels seen during the first quarter of 2023.

    • The City of London has seen the largest quarterly uplift in demand, with a 6% increase versus the final quarter of last year.

    • West Yorkshire, Leicestershire, Tyne and Wear, Staffordshire, Durham, South Yorkshire and Greater Manchester have also seen some of the strongest quarterly growth in buyer demand levels with a 3% increase.

  • Intel shares fall

    Intel (INTC) shares fell over 4% in extended trading after the company revealed that its Foundry segment lost $7bn (£4.13bn) in 2023, widening from a loss of $5.2bn in 2020.

    This is the first time that Intel has disclosed revenue totals for its foundry business alone. Historically, Intel has both designed its own chips as well as done its own manufacturing, and reported final chip sales to investors.

    The unit had revenue of $18.9bn for 2023, down 31% from $27.49bn the year before.

    The company expects 2024 to be the peak of its losses and that Intel Foundry will be profitable, on an operating level, “midway between now and the end of 2030.”

    "In the post EUV era, we see that we're very competitive now on price, performance (and) back to leadership," CEO Pat Gelsinger said.

    See what other tickers are trending here

  • ECB expected to cut interest rates in June

    07.03.2024, Frankfurt, DEU Pressekonferenz der Europaeischen Zentralbank, ECB, Christine Lagarde, Praesidentin der Europaeischen Zentralbank . *** 07 03 2024, Frankfurt, DEU Press conference of the European Central Bank, ECB, Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank
    07.03.2024, Frankfurt, DEU Pressekonferenz der Europaeischen Zentralbank, ECB, Christine Lagarde, Praesidentin der Europaeischen Zentralbank . *** 07 03 2024, Frankfurt, DEU Press conference of the European Central Bank, ECB, Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank (IMAGO/Hannelore Foerster, Imago)

    The fall in inflation has now increased expectations of an interest rate cut by the European Central Bank (ECB), which is widely expected to loosen monetary policy at its meeting in June.

    However, it is still expected to hold rates steady at its next meeting on 11 April as more data on wage growth will come in May.

    “With inflation now within spitting distance of the European Central Bank’s 2% targeted level, investors will be even more convinced that interest rate cuts are on the near-term horizon,” Michael Field, European market strategist at Morningstar said.

    Carsten Brzeski, global head of macro at ING, said the data from Germany, which is the eurozone’s largest economy, “brings some relief for the ECB”.

    Separately, new data also revealed that the unemployment rate for the eurozone came in at 6.5% for February, holding steady after January's reading was revised higher from 6.4% to 6.5%. The consensus forecast was 6.4%.

  • Eurozone inflation falls to 2.4% in March

    Eurozone inflation fell unexpectedly last month, with consumer prices rising by 2.4% in the year to March.

    This was down from the 2.6% rate in February, statistics office Eurostat revealed, thanks to a fall in energy prices that pulled down overall inflation

    Economists were expecting a reading of 2.6%.

  • Gold hits record high

    Gold prices (GC=F) have hit a record high, reaching as much as $2,300.90 an ounce on Wednesday, before slightly retreating. At the time of writing, prices were still 0.5% higher.

    Gold has climbed by almost 11% this year alone.

    It comes as two Federal Reserve officials said they still expect the US central bank to cut rates three times in 2024, with Chair Jerome Powell due to speak later Wednesday.

  • Musk would buy Disney shares if Peltz was elected

    Elon Musk has said that he would buy Disney shares if activist investment billionaire Nelson Peltz was elected to the board.

    Peltz has previously campaigned for board seats for months, arguing that Disney was too late to develop a coherent streaming strategy and that it overpaid its $71bn acquisition of Fox.

  • Ryanair cancelled 950 flights during March

    Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS landing at Birmingham Airport, UK (EI-DPV)
    Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS landing at Birmingham Airport, UK (EI-DPV) (Colin Underhill)

    Ryanair has said it had cancelled almost 950 flights throughout March due to the conflict in Israel and Gaza.

    However, the budget airline said that it carried 1 million more passengers in March 2024 compared with the year before — a 8% increase to 13.6 million.

    The Irish carrier is the world’s second most valuable by market capitalisation, behind only Delta. It flew 77,000 flights in March, and has flown 183.7 million passengers during the last year.

  • Commentary: Tesla’s figures are warning sign for all investors

    Tesla’s latest figures are a warning sign, and an opportunity for investors, says the chief executive of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory and asset management firms.

    Nigel Green of DeVere Group said:

    “Companies operating in similar sectors, which are based around discretionary spending, including major household names like Apple and Nike, are experiencing similar challenges, with reduced consumer spending impacting their bottom line.

    "When global influential consumer-facing companies face headwinds, prudent portfolio management is imperative to mitigate risks and capitalise on emerging opportunities.

    ​"Investors must adopt a cautious approach, conducting thorough due diligence before making investment decisions.

    ​“While Tesla’s subdued performance may signal broader challenges and turbulence, it also presents discerning investors with buying opportunities."

  • Tesla stock tumbles 5%

    Tesla (TSLA) stock fell last night as deliveries for its first quarter came in below Q4's total and also fell compared to a year ago.

    It posted 386,810 global deliveries, well below estimates of 449,080 as compiled by Bloomberg. Tesla produced 433,371 vehicles, which was also below estimates of 452,976.

    The Q1 total is also a significant drop from the fourth quarter, during which it delivered 484,000 vehicles.

    Dan Ives, Wedbush analyst, said in a note:

    "We view this as a seminal moment in the Tesla story for Musk to either turn this around and reverse the black eye Q1 performance.

    Otherwise, some darker days could clearly be ahead that could disrupt the long-term Tesla narrative."

  • Asia and US stocks

    Stocks in Asia mostly declined overnight as Wall Street sank, hitting the brakes on its stellar rally.

    The Nikkei (^N225) fell 1% on the day in Japan, while the Hang Seng (^HSI) fell 1.3% in Hong Kong. The Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) was 0.2% down by the end of the session.

    It comes as China has an ambitious target of around 5% economic growth this year, looking to step away from troubles in the property sector and the lingering effects of the COVID pandemic.

    Across the pond, the S&P 500 (^GSPC) slipped 0.7% in its worst day in four weeks, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq (^IXIC) was 1% lower. The Dow Jones (^DJI) also lost 1%.

    Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management said:

    “Investors are grappling with the possibility that this turbulence could mark the beginning of a more significant correction in the markets.”

    Meanwhile, the yield on benchmark 10-year US Treasury bonds rose to 4.35% from 4.33% late on Monday.

  • Coming up...

    Good morning, and welcome to our markets live blog. Here we cover all the latest news of what's moving markets, and what's happening across the global economy.

    Here's a quick look at what's on the agenda for today:

    • 7am: Trading updates: Hilton Foods, Topps Tiles

    • 9am: UK, EU PMI Services

    • 10am: Euro area inflation rate flash reading

    • 10am: Euro area unemployment rate

    • 12pm: US MBA Mortgage Applications

    • 1:15pm: US ADP employment change

Watch: What is a recession and how do we spot one?

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