UK stocks end the week lower as slowdown woes mount

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, Britain

By Sruthi Shankar and Bansari Mayur Kamdar

(Reuters) -London's FTSE 100 index ended the week lower on worries about aggressive interest rate hikes and a sharp slowdown in the global economy, even as energy and defensive stocks lifted the benchmark index more than 1% on Friday.

The FTSE 100 added 1.7%, supported by energy giant Shell, AstraZeneca and British American Tobacco. The domestically focussed FTSE 250 index gained 1.9%.

"Some of it is definitely down to investors buying the dip, and some of it is also down to the latest sort of update from the Fed," Danni Hewson, financial analyst at AJ Bell, said.

"Everybody is laser focussed on what the economy is going to look like six months down the line. Next week, the UK has its latest inflation figures out. I think those are going to look hot and that is going to rattle investors in the UK once again."

Bank of England (BoE) Deputy Governor Dave Ramsden said on Thursday interest rates very likely will have to go up further to stop a repeat of persistent inflation.

Investors were pricing a roughly 72.5% chance of the BoE announcing a rare half-percentage point hike on Aug. 4. [IRPR]

Global equities recouped some of their losses on Friday as investors tempered expectations of a more aggressive U.S. rate rise after upbeat retail sales data and comments from Federal Reserve policymakers, but sluggish economic growth in China due to widespread COVID-19 lockdowns continued to weigh on sentiment.

The lockdowns took a toll on London's luxury brand Burberry whose first-quarter comparable store sales rose just by 1%. The weakness in China pushed its shares 3.8% lower.

BT Group fell 7.7% to the bottom of FTSE 100 index, after media reports that peer Virgin Media O2 is in talks to buy broadband rival TalkTalk.

Tonic maker Fevertree fell 27.7% after it lowered its annual profit forecast, citing worsening cost pressures and logistical issues.

Aston Martin's shares surged 23.7% after the luxury carmaker brought Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund as its second-largest shareholder and said it was looking to raise 653 million pounds ($771.58 million).

(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Bansari Mayur Kamdar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips, Arun Koyyur, William Maclean)