London’s FTSE 100 started what will be a quiet week in decent style today, driven higher by investors piling into Britain’s largest retailers.
The capital’s premier index jumped 0.21 per cent to 7,773.49 points, while the domestically-focused mid-cap FTSE 250 index, which is more aligned with the health of the UK economy, edged lower to 19,273.34 points.
Trading was muted during the opening session of the week in the City today ahead of a slim week of corporate announcements and data drops.
UK inflation numbers on Wednesday will top investors’ minds. Markets think the rate of price increases slipped out of the double digits for the first time since last summer in April to around eight per cent.
Public finances figures out tomorrow could provide clues on whether the UK’s better than feared economic performance since the turn of the year has improved tax receipts, indicating the government could pare back borrowing as the year progresses.
A leaner week “means market sentiment is likely to be driven by political and economic events, including any update on the US debt ceiling talks, UK inflation data and the minutes from the latest Federal Reserve interest rate meeting on Wednesday,” Russ Mould, investment director at broker AJ Bell, said.
This morning, the government announced it has ditched another chunk of its stake in NatWest. Its shares were pretty untroubled by the announcement, climbing 1.2 per cent higher.
Taxpayers’ ownership of the lender, which had to be bailed out during the 2008 financial crisis when it operated under the name of Royal Bank of Scotland, has now been reduced to less than half after reaching a peak of 84 per cent.
Retailers topped the FTSE 100, driven by household spending holding up better than predicted, though figures on Friday from the ONS are projected to show retail sales slipped around three per cent over the last year.
Luxury fashion retailer Burberry nearly topped the index, climbing a shade under four per cent in the morning following last week’s results which showed it has received a boost from Chinese consumers. It lost some of the gains, eventually finishing 1.31 per cent higher. Specialist trainer retailer JD Sports added nearly one per cent, while online supermarket and middle-class favourite Ocado finished two per cent higher.
The pound weakened 0.18 per cent against the US dollar.