UK’s FTSE 100 unchanged as defenses overcome China’s COVID-19 concerns

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UK's FTSE 100 unchanged as defenses overcome China's COVID-19 concerns

Today’s price action is risk averse more than anything else, especially when you have concerns about recession and concerns about central banks reactions to rising inflationary pressure.” British power stocks such as gas owners Centrica and SSE rose more than 3% each as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there are no plans to extend a windfall tax on profits of electricity generators.

While the severe cost-of-living crisis and political uncertainty darkens the outlook for Britain’s economy, the FTSE 100 has outperformed its global peers this year due to its exposure to commodity companies, stable defensive sectors and a weakening pound. The exporter-heavy index is down 2.7% so far this year, however, the FTSE midcap index has shed near 20%.

Meanwhile, European markets remained on edge after the biggest single pipeline carrying Russian gas to Germany started annual maintenance on Monday amid worries the shut-down might be extended due to war in Ukraine. Wizz Air fell 3.7% after the Hungarian budget airline said it may reduce its aircraft usage in peak summer period to hedge for labour shortages and strikes at European airports. Peer British Airways owner IAG declined 5.8%.

Story Highlights

  • The FTSE 100 was flat, while the domestically focussed FTSE 250 index slid 0.4% after marking weekly gains on Friday. “All the defensive areas of the market have got a significant bid,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK. “There’s a bit of a haven bias going on because yields are lower, defensives are higher and the dollar is higher.

  • Meanwhile, mining majors capped gains on the commodity-heavy index, with Anglo American, Antofagasta and Glencore down between 1.2% and 4.1% as metal prices fell on news multiple Chinese cities are adopting fresh COVID curbs, denting the outlook for demand from the top metals consumer. Sterling dropped to a two-year low as traders moved to the sidelines as a leadership contest kicked off to determine Britain’s next prime minister, boosting the exporter-heavy FTSE 100 index.