LONDON MARKETS: FTSE 100 Listless As Investors Wait For Carney's 'Super Thursday' Comments

By Carla Mozee, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Pound nudges up after services data rises more than seen

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U.K. stocks slipped Thursday, with investors focusing on monetary policy and inflation updates from the Bank of England, as shares of Next PLC rallied on the back of its earnings report.

The FTSE 100 shed 0.1% to 7,405.15, with oil and gas shares and the basic materials group among decliners. But consumer-related, industrial and financial stocks advanced. The London benchmark closed 0.1% lower on Wednesday.

Next shares (NXT.LN) stood out Thursday, rocketing up 11% and on track for their best session since January 2009. The clothing and home furnishings retailer raised the lower end of its full-year sales guidance (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/next-sales-rise-lifts-lower-end-of-guidance-2017-08-03) after a rise in the second quarter.

Shares of Marks & Spencer Group PLC (MKS.LN) , a rival seller of apparel, moved up 1.9%.

BOE reports: Investors were waiting for the BOE's "Super Thursday" trio of releases: its interest rate decision, August Inflation Report and minutes from monetary policy makers' meeting.

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Read:Confusion reigns for investors ahead of Bank of England's 'Super Thursday' (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/confusion-reigns-for-investors-ahead-of-bank-of-englands-super-thursday-2017-08-01)

"I do not expect the outcome of today's meeting to result in a rate hike," said Hussein Sayed, FXTM's chief market strategist, in a note.

He highlighted that consumer prices slipped from 2.9% to 2.6% in June, suggesting that the central bank may need to assess whether prices will fall back further, after topping out in May.

The reports are expected to be released at 12 p.m. London time, or 7 a.m. Eastern Time, followed by a press conference with BOE Governor Mark Carney at 12:30 p.m.

"If there are no major surprises from the votes or quarterly inflation report, Carney's press conference will decide which direction the pound will take," Sayed added.

The analyst noted that in June, the BOE chief said he was prepared to raise interest rates if U.K. business activity increased.

"If he sends a similar message at today's press conference, this would be another signal for bulls to jump in," Sayed said.

Stock movers: ConvaTec Group PLC (CTEC.LN) shares dropped 6.1% after the company's first-half operating profit fell to $193.5 million from $209 million a year ago. The medical technology maker said its Chief Financial Officer Nigel Clerkin will leave (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/convatec-swings-to-profit-names-cfo-designate-2017-08-03), but will continue as a director and CFO until Oct. 31.

But Randgold Resources Ltd. shares (RRS.LN) bounced up 4.8%. The African gold miner said it's on course to meet the top end of its 2017 production guidance (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/randgold-resources-profit-up-as-revenue-rises-22-2017-08-03), and that second-quarter pretax profit rose to $150.2 million.

London Stock Exchange Group PLC (LSE.LN) tacked on 1.5% as the exchange operator raised its interim dividend 20% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/lse-profit-rises-dividend-up-20-2017-08-03) and said all its business areas are operating well.

Economic docket: Investors got a snapshot on the services sector, which makes up roughly 80% of British economic activity. The IHS Markit/CIPS services purchasing managers' index for July rose to 53.8, from 53.4 in June. It was expected to come in at 53.5 for July, according to a FactSet poll of economists.

The pound bought $1.3241 after the release of the services PMI. It was changing hands at $1.3234 ahead of the data, up from $1.3224 in Wednesday's settlement in New York.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 03, 2017 05:13 ET (09:13 GMT)