Markets subdued as traders act cautiously ahead of Fed rates update

The markets were mixed as traders remained on tenterhooks ahead of the pivotal update from the Federal Reserve.

The FTSE 100 edged higher while other key markets dipped as the City became cautious over the possibility of rate cuts.

London’s top flight closed 24.52 points higher at 7,330.78 at the end of trading on Wednesday.

The index was boosted by strong results from a couple of strong sets of results by blue-chip stocks.

Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex, said: “As is typical for a Fed Wednesday, the markets were largely quiet as the session went on, patiently waiting for news on the central bank’s next steps.

“Ignoring its ropey commodity sector, and further pain for its banking stocks, the FTSE reclaimed 7300.

“This was in part thanks to gains for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the pharma giant hiking its full-year guidance following its Q3 results, and Standard Chartered, which bucked Wednesday’s wider sector trend.”

The Dow Jones slipped as traders were cautious ahead of what was expected to be a third rate cut in 2019.

In Europe, the key markets were mixed, with the French markets strengthened by better-than-expected GDP figures, while a poor outing by Deutsche Bank hit the Dax.

The German Dax decreased by 0.23% while the French Cac moved 0.45% higher.

Sterling was steely-eyed in the face of December’s general election, moving marginally higher against the dollar.

The pound was up 0.08% versus the US dollar at 1.287, and flat against the euro at 1.157.

In company news, shares in GSK rose higher as it upgraded its earnings forecast after its shingles vaccine performed much better than expected, for the second time in a year.

The drugmaker saw shares rise by 42.2p to 1,782 at the end of trading.

Standard Chartered
Standard Chartered

Elsewhere, Standard Chartered was another of the day’s big winners as it shrugged off protests in Hong Kong and a slowdown in the global economy to post a hike in third-quarter profits.

The Asia and emerging markets-focused bank reported a 16% jump in underlying pre-tax profits to 1.2 billion US dollars (£932 million) for the three months to September.

Shares in the business closed 17.8p higher at 712.8p on Wednesday.

Banknote-maker De La Rue plummeted in value after it issued a second profit warning in five months.

The company, which suffered heavily from losing out on the Government’s contract to make new blue UK passports, said profits will be “significantly lower than market expectations”.

Investors took flight, with shares in the business plunging 38p to 149p.

Retailer Next dipped despite saying that falling temperatures helped to drive customers to its stores and website in October.

Shares in Next slipped by 196p to 6,654p at the close of trading.

The price of oil sank lower in the wake of the latest Energy Information Administration report but recovered some of its losses.

The price of a barrel of Brent crude oil decreased by 0.94% to 61.02 US dollars.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Reckitt Benckiser, Intertek Group, Standard Chartered, and AstraZeneca.

The biggest fallers on the index were NMC Health, Whitbread, Antofagasta, and Kingfisher.