LONDON MARKETS: FTSE 100 Steady As Investors Puzzle Over Fed Minutes

By Carla Mozee, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Primark parent ABF jumps after upbeat outlook

Continue Reading Below

U.K. stocks held steady Thursday, as investors digested the latest minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve, which seemed to have left some confused as to the central bank's plan of action.

Among big stock movers, Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC shares dropped after a sales warning prompted by a cyberattack, while Associated British Foods PLC shares jumped after an upbeat outlook.

The FTSE 100 shed 0.1% to 7,358.36, as tech, consumer, commodity and industrial shares fell. Utilities, considered a defensive sector, moved higher. The London benchmark on Wednesday ended 0.1% higher (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ftse-100-gains-ground-as-home-builders-miners-move-higher-2017-07-05) after a choppy session.

In the Fed minutes, policy makers appeared at odds (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/fed-might-start-balance-sheet-drawdown-in-september-fomc-minutes-hint-2017-07-05) over when the central bank should reduce its $4.5 trillion in debt holdings, thereby pulling back on its support for the U.S. economy. One issue was inflation, which suffered a puzzling slowdown recently.

Read:Investors face a long, hard road back to 'normal' (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/investors-face-a-long-hard-road-back-to-normal-2017-06-29)

Continue Reading Below

"While some Fed officials want to kick off the process for reducing the holdings of treasuries and asset-backed securities in September, others want to see more clues on inflation, which has been edging lower," said Hussein Sayed, FXTM's chief market strategist.

"These mixed signals have kept the bulls and bears on the sidelines, and that is why it is not surprising to see a muted market reaction," Sayed said in a note.

The minutes of the Fed's June meeting were released late Wednesday, after the U.K. stock market closed.

Read:Will the Bank of England's 10-year hiatus on rate hikes end soon? What analysts say (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/will-the-bank-of-englands-10-year-hiatus-on-rate-hikes-end-soon-what-analysts-say-2017-07-05)

In the same vein, the European Central Bank will release minutes from its June 8 meeting at 12:30 p.m. London time, or 7:30 a.m. Eastern Time on Thursday.

Traders are looking for any hints the ECB is getting closer to ending its ultraloose monetary policy stance, after central bank President Mario Draghi was seen as striking a hawkish tone at a speech in Portugal last week.

Stock movers: Shares of Reckitt Benckiser (RB.LN) dropped 2.5% after the consumer products heavyweight cut its 2017 sales forecast. The maker of Lysol, Enfamil and other household products said it expects to permanently lose some revenue after last month's cyberattack (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/reckitt-benckiser-to-lose-revenue-post-cyberattack-2017-07-06). caused production difficulties in some factories.

Ingredients producer Associated British Foods PLC (ABF.LN) shares jumped 4.5%. The move came after a strong performance by ABF's its Primark fashion retail chain prompted the company to say its full-year outlook has improved (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/abf-outlook-edges-up-due-to-strong-primark-trading-2017-07-06).

Oil mixed: Shares of energy majors largely shrugged off a sharp rise in oil prices , which came after the American Petroleum Institute late Wednesday reported a much larger-than-expected drop in weekly U.S. crude supplies.

Shares of oil producer BP PLC (BP.LN) were up 0.2%, while rival Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB.LN) (RDSB.LN) was off by 0.1%.

The Energy Information Administration will release its weekly supply update at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time, or 3:30 p.m. London time.

In the currency market, the pound bought $1.2936, not far off from $1.2933 late Wednesday in New York.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 06, 2017 05:01 ET (09:01 GMT)