FTSE 100 closes lower with Fed meeting and inflation in focus

Wed, 17th Mar 2021

The FTSE 100 closed down 0.6% to 6,762.67 as bond market jitters returned ahead of a key meeting of the US Federal Reserve. By 4.30pm UK time the US S&P 500 index was itself down 0.4% to 3,945.39. Any sign that the Fed might ease off on its dovish stance on interest rates would indicate the US economy was on the mend, but could spook markets grown accustomed to an abundance of cheap credit. Fantasy miniatures group Games Workshop fell 7.3% to £94.35 after a brief update which confirmed a dividend payment to shareholders but said trading would be in line subject to notwithstanding store closures and 'distribution disruption'. Wealth management company Hargreaves Lansdown climbed 1.6% to £15.75, having upgraded its profit outlook after reporting elevated share dealing volumes since the end of January. Hargreaves Lansdown now expected pre-tax profit for the year through June 2021 'modestly above' the top end of analyst expectations ranging from £334 million to £360 million. Telecoms giant BT gained 6.6% to 152.7p after its mobile business, EE, won 80 megahertz of 5G spectrum following an auction by UK regulator Ofcom. BT said the total implied cost to the company of the win was £452 million. Upper Crust owner SSP sagged 7.4% to 320.3p on announcing that it would launch a £475 million equity raising to bolster its balance sheet after the pandemic hurt footfall at travel locations such as airports. SSP did not indicate an issue price for the raising in its market filing, only saying it would be conducted via a 12-for-25 rights issue. Iron-ore pellet producer Ferrexpo rose 1.4% to 360.2p as it declared a special dividend following a jump in annual profit underpinned by a surge in iron-ore prices and higher production. Ferrexpo declared a special interim dividend of 39.6c per share, taking the total dividends for the year to 72.6c, up from 19.8c in 2019. Outsourcing group Capita gained 2.1% to 47.1p after it targeted disposal proceeds of £500 million this year, while simplifying its business to three units, from six. The announcement came as Capita booked an expected annual loss amid a 10% drop in revenue. Services provider Serco firmed 1.2% to 139p on winning a contract extension worth up to around £870 million to provide support services at the 5 Wing forces base in Goose Bay, Canada. The initial 10-year contract period had an estimated ceiling value of C$694 million or about £400 million, with provision for two further five-year extensions. Engineering company Ricardo was flat at 489p on news that it had won an $89 million contract to make safety improvements to the US Amry's high mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicle. The three-year contract would see Ricardo provide up to 9,480 antilock brake system and electronic stability control retrofit kits for the vehicles. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

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