Financials lift FTSE 100; earnings boost midcaps

·2-min read
British pound coins are seen in front of displayed stock graph in this illustration

By Sruthi Shankar and Bansari Mayur Kamdar

(Reuters) -UK's FTSE 100 crawled higher on Thursday as gains in financial stocks offset the weakness in energy and healthcare shares, while positive corporate earnings reports supported the mid-cap index.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 rose 0.1% with private equity company 3I Group among its biggest boosts after a strong first quarter.

Financial sectors such as banks and insurance rose 0.7% and 0.6%, respectively.

Capping gains on the commodity-heavy FTSE 100 index, oil majors Shell and BP fell about 1% each tracking the weakness in crude prices on demand concerns after the European Central Bank delivered its first interest rate hike in over a decade. [O/R]

Despite a severe cost-of-living crisis in the UK, the FTSE 100 has outperformed its global peers this year due to its heavy exposure to commodities and defensive sectors.

However, growing worries about a global recession have led to doubts over whether the index can continue to shine in the second half of the year.

"Peaking inflation dynamics and rising global recession risks will likely lead to a rotation back into quality and, to some extent, growth names," said Mathieu Racheter, head of equity strategy research at Julius Baer.

"We, therefore, see more downside risks to UK equities compared to their U.S. and European peers from current levels in case a recession materialises."

Meanwhile, former finance minister Rishi Sunak and foreign secretary Liz Truss will battle it out to become Britain's next prime minister after they won the final lawmaker vote. The result will be announced on Sept. 5.

The domestically focused mid-cap index gained 1.6%, outperforming the pan-European STOXX 600 and FTSE 100, with Frasers Group jumping 26.6% to the top of the index after Mike Ashley's sportswear and fashion group said it expected higher profit next year.

Online trading platform IG Group climbed 10.0% after reporting a slightly higher-than-expected annual profit.

Veterinary drugs producer Dechra Pharmaceuticals slid 3.0% to the bottom of the FTSE 100 after discounted placing, while Carnival Corp fell 9.4% on stock offering plans.

(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Bansari Mayur Kamdar in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Ed Osmond)