FTSE 100 closes in the red ahead of Biden's UK visit for G7 summit

US president Joe Biden. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images
US president Joe Biden. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

European stock markets were mixed on Wednesday ahead of US president Joe Biden's visit to the UK later in the day for the G7 Summit, his first international trip since taking office.

The FTSE 100 (^FTSE), which has been trading in the red all the day, closed down 0.2%, falling below the 7,100 mark to 7,082.

Markets continued to be cautious about inflation as they reacted to Chinese inflation data.

"Rising inflation in China – up from 0.9% in April to 1.3% in May – can shoulder some of the blame, causing a flurry of losses in the FTSE’s mining sector," said Connor Campbell, financial analyst at SpreadEx.

Major mining stocks weighed heavy on the FTSE after falling on the news. Rio Tinto (RIO.L) declined 2%, Anglo American (AAL.L) dropped 3% and Antofagasta (ANTO.L) was down 1.8%.

But travel and COVID vaccine stocks helped it make up for some lost ground. British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG.L) closed up nearly 4%, while AstraZeneca (AZN.L) was up 3% and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) gained over 2%.

Meanwhile, the World Bank updated its growth forecast, with the global economy now set for the fastest recession recovery in more than 80 years. The Washington-based group expects the world economy to grow by 5.6% in 2021. The upgraded outlook beats previous expectations in January for growth of 4.1%.

Despite the recovery, the institution warned on Tuesday that global output will be about 2% below pre-pandemic projections by the end of this year.

Things on the continent are also moving in the right direction, with Europe’s COVID vaccinations accelerating after a slow start and most countries lifting lockdown restrictions, with inflation, consumer and business confidence rebounding strongly.

European stocks were mixed. France’s CAC (^FCHI) was up 0.3%, and the DAX (^GDAXI) ended the session 0.3% lower in Germany.

Investors await the key event this week, a meeting of the European Central Bank (ECB) on Thursday, to gauge how the upbeat economic outlook changes the policy plans of the president Christine Lagarde and the bank, as well as the latest inflation data from the US, also on Thursday.

Read more: UK property market hots up with homes under sale at decade high

Major indices have been on a knife edge amid fears the pandemic recovery will cause economies to overheat and prompt central banks to withdraw policy support sooner than expected.

Inflation concerns, supply-chain issues and staff shortages are also adding further pressure as investors look for direction.

Across the Atlantic, US stocks opened mixed following Europe's lead ahead of Thursday’s consumer-price data that could offer hints on how long the Federal Reserve holds off tapering stimulus.

Wall Street’s blue-chip S&P 500 (^GSPC) was up 0.1% at the time of London's close on Wednesday, after coming within inches of a fresh record on Tuesday.

The Dow Jones (^DJI) was trading less than 0.1% higher, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq (^IXIC) continued its rally, gaining 73.86 points, or just over 0.5% after the opening bell, it declined to trade up 0.2% shortly after.

Asian stocks were also mixed overnight. The Nikkei (^N225) fell 0.4% in Japan, while the Hang Seng (^HSI) was down 0.2% and the Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) closed just over 0.3% up.

It comes after the Chinese producer price index (PPI) jumped 9% from a year earlier, the highest in over 12 years, on surging commodity prices. The country’s consumer price index for the same month rose 1.3% from a year earlier.

China has been taking steps to curb the recent sharp increase in commodity prices. "While some of the rise can be attributed to base effects due to the huge slide in commodity prices that we saw in March and April last year, which saw PPI decline 3.7%, there is increasing evidence that various supply side issues are starting to create a situation where rather than being transitory, inflation pressures could become more persistent," said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

Crude oil (CL=F) fell 0.3% as the US dashed hopes of Iranian crude exports returning, it was trading up 0.4% to $70.30 (£50) earlier in the day.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that even if America reached a nuclear deal with Iran, hundreds of sanctions on Tehran would remain in place.

Brent (BZ=F) was also in the negative territory, down 0.2% to $72.11. Both benchmarks rallied last week, with crude hitting $70 a barrel for the first time since October 2018.

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