The FTSE 100 has barely moved this morning, with London’s premium index down 0.01 per cent at 7,946 points – with unexpected caution in China’s economic approach weighing down oil prices and investor sentiment towards miners.
China announced a lower-than-expected GDP target for this year of five per cent at the annual National People’s Congress yesterday, following last year’s second slowest growth rate since 1976.
The uncertain outlook for the world’s second largest economy has seen Brent Crude futures slip around 1 per cent to just above $85 per barrel today.
Mining stocks have subsequently weakened with Anglo American, Rio Tinto and Antofagasta all down around two per cent amid an early sell-off.
The FTSE 350 industrial metals miners has lost 1.7 per cent, and copper prices also took a hit falling into the red – before recovering slightly to be up 0.28 per cent on the London Metal Exchange in later trading this morning.
Elsewhere, retailers are enjoying a robust trading session after B&Q owner Kingfisher lifted 4.7p to 289.8p and B&M European Value Retail ticked up 5.5p to 494.4p.
As for potential tailwinds, healthcare giant AstraZeneca a mid-stage trial of its cancer drug Enhertu showed positive results for multiple tumours, lifting shares of the drugmaker 0.1 per cent.
Alongside China, the UK’s economic agenda is also under scrutinty ahead of the budget.
Sir James Dyson has criticised plans for two “tax grabs” which he warned will stop business from boosting Britain’s economy.
The entrepreneur has hit out at the planned hike in corporation tax from April and efforts to introduce levies on subsidiaries of UK multinational companies.
In a letter to the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt – seen by The Sun – he said: “Is it any wonder that the economy is teetering on recession, or that companies like AstraZeneca are deciding to take their investment elsewhere?”
Corporation tax will rise next month from 19 per cent to 25 per cent, while Jeremy Hunt said in autumn that he would bring in a 15p per cent tax rate for subsidiaries of large UK multinationals from the end of 2023.
Dyson said: “The government has done nothing but pile tax upon tax on to British companies.”