London close: FTSE marginally lower as Brexit-wary markets look to Fed, BoE
Shares in London ended Tuesday marginally lower as the market takes a Brexit-wary stance ahead of Wednesday's US Federal Reserve interest-rate call, which is presently the centre of the market's attention.
The Fed is anticipated to bump rates up, the market basing this opinion on hawkish comments made by several of the central bank's officials, including chair Janet Yellen, recently.
Bank of England is out of the blocks on Thursday, but is seen standing pat on its benchmark interest rate.
These factors, along with the prospect of Brexit negotiations starting this month, as calls for Scotland and Northern Ireland independence referendums heighten, have made traders edgy.
In light of all this noise, the FTSE 100 closed down 0.13% or 9.23 points to 7,357.85, and the FTSE 250 ended the day down 0.41% to 18,195.12. Key US and European equities indices were mildly to modestly lower, too.
"European and US markets are suffering in a whirlwind of anxiety, with the impending article 50 activation, Dutch elections, Fed rate hike and the issue of a second Scottish referendum all feeding into market uncertainty," said IG market analyst Joshua Mahony.
"The shift into bonds across Europe and the US highlights the flight to safety we are seeing in the face of significant political and economic headwinds," he added.
"There are plenty of reasons to question what the UK will look like in just over two years’ time," he added.
Oanda senior market analyst Craig Erlam commented that the market was in wait-and-see mode, with investors perched on the fence ahead of tomorrow's Fed decision.
London's blue chips were dragged down by falling oil majors as Saudi Arabia's crude output rose in February, from January, but remained below Opec's curbs of late 2016.
Prices for both grades of the black liquid plummeted, extending falls in the past week caused by large rises in US inventories and rising rig counts. Royal Dutch Shell and BP were both down.
Other sectors with a notable number of fallers included banks, insurers and property, whether house builders or commercial.
High-street lenders Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and Lloyds all fell, while among the insurers it was Standard Life and and Legal & General most impacted.
Insurance and savings group Prudential was a standout blue-chip gainer after its full-year results beat City forecasts for operating profits and its dividend.
Retailer Marks & Spencer was under the cosh on news it has closed almost all of its stores in mainland China since the start of the year.
Heavyweight miner Antofagasta edged up as it said higher metals prices and lower cash costs helped push its full-year EBITDA up up 78.7% to $1.6bn.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Prudential (PRU) 1,715.00p 3.03%
Unilever (ULVR) 4,042.00p 1.32%
Kingfisher (KGF) 341.10p 1.28%
Diageo (DGE) 2,299.00p 1.23%
easyJet (EZJ) 994.50p 1.02%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 7,035.00p 1.01%
Severn Trent (SVT) 2,362.00p 0.98%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 987.50p 0.97%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 4,854.50p 0.82%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 271.20p 0.82%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Pearson (PSON) 652.50p -2.90%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 235.20p -2.53%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 330.50p -2.16%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 2,183.50p -1.73%
Standard Life (SL.) 365.20p -1.70%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 556.00p -1.59%
Barclays (BARC) 226.55p -1.59%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,789.00p -1.54%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 191.20p -1.49%
Smurfit Kappa Group (SKG) 2,183.00p -1.49%
FTSE 250 - Risers
SIG (SHI) 114.90p 7.18%
Clarkson (CKN) 2,700.00p 4.53%
Vectura Group (VEC) 156.00p 4.21%
Dechra Pharmaceuticals (DPH) 1,709.00p 2.77%
Acacia Mining (ACA) 468.80p 1.80%
Genus (GNS) 1,835.00p 1.77%
Hill & Smith Holdings (HILS) 1,269.00p 1.52%
Berendsen (BRSN) 827.50p 1.47%
Pennon Group (PNN) 870.00p 1.40%
Close Brothers Group (CBG) 1,560.00p 1.36%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Amec Foster Wheeler (AMFW) 511.00p -6.41%
Nostrum Oil & Gas (NOG) 468.50p -6.30%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 234.30p -6.24%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 715.50p -6.16%
Restaurant Group (RTN) 356.30p -4.68%
TP ICAP (TCAP) 466.10p -4.11%
Carillion (CLLN) 223.50p -3.95%
Metro Bank (MTRO) 3,212.00p -3.92%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 897.00p -3.91%
Hunting (HTG) 528.50p -3.91%