- UK shares were higher on Monday, fuelled by weakness in the pound and doubts that the BoE will be in a position to hike interest rates in the near term.
- The FTSE 100 ended higher by 0.82% at 7,129.11, while cable dropped around 0.6% after figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that the UK economy slowed sharply at the end of last year.
On the growth numbers, these dropped to just 0.2% in the last three months of the year, below the 0.3% consensus and much lower than the 0.6% seen in the three months to September – GDP had fallen 0.4% in Dec alone and annual GDP growth was the lowest since 2012 at just 1.4%.
It was just last week that the BoE said that an ongoing tightening of monetary policy over the forecast period, at a gradual pace and to a limited extent, would be appropriate to return inflation sustainably to the 2% target at a conventional horizon”. That is now being priced out of the pound and markets in general as Brexit uncertainty takes a grip. However, while the business community has certainly slowed down, consumer spending and labour markets with growth in income have helped to buoy an optimistic outlook.
However, it seems that the can just keeps getting kicked when it comes to Brexit and Downing Street has confirmed that the meaningful vote scheduled for Valentine’s Day has been cancelled, delayed until further notice as May runs down the clock to the eleventh hour. We now await MP May’s statement in The Commons on Tuesday for more information. Elsewhere, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer head to Beijing this week for further trade war talks.
Best and worst performers
In corporate news, the top performer was travel company TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 958.20p 4.90% that managed to turnaround last week’s slide that followed profit warnings. Next in line came Smurfit Kappa Group (SKG) 2,232.00p 3.91% ahead of Ocado Group (OCDO) 939.40p 3.87%. The worst of the top flight index were Antofagasta (ANTO) 840.40p -3.56%, Smith & Nephew (SN.) 1,472.00p -3.00% and Anglo American (AAL) 1,910.60p -1.15%.
Technically, the index has found support around the 23.6% Fibo of the 28th Jan to recent Feb highs and the confluence of the 38.2% Fibo of the May 2018 decline to Dec lows. That area falls in around 7033 and 7058 respectively. However, while below the daily doji and fractal highs of 7187, the technical picture leans bearish and bulls need to keep control at this juncture or face a decline in price en route to the 50% Fibo of trend low to recent highs located at 6860 with the confluence of the fractal low on 26th Oct 2018. On the flipside, bulls can target the 50% Fibo of the May 2018 decline with the confluence of the 7220 psychological level.