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Banks drive fifth day of gains for London’s FTSE 100


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen outside the entrance of the London Stock Exchange in London, Britain. Aug 23, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

By Sruthi Shankar

(Reuters) -London’s blue-chip shares rose for a fifth straight session on Tuesday, led by banks and insurance stocks, as investors awaited the release of inflation data and a budget update on Wednesday.

The FTSE 100 index ended 0.5% higher, hitting a three-week high after having recouped all of its year-to-date losses in the previous session.

Rate-sensitive banks added 3.1% and insurers climbed 3.4%, as bets on aggressive interest rates hikes by major central banks grew after U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s hawkish comments on Monday.

The benchmark 10-year gilt yield touched its highest since October 2018.

While a large presence of commodity and financial stocks has helped the FTSE 100 outperform its continental peers this year, investors worry that faster monetary policy tightening might stifle economic growth. Data due out on Wednesday is expected to show consumer prices hit a new three-decade high in March.

“Inflation will peak in a couple of months on a year-on-year basis. The reality is though the UK will end 2022 with an about 4% inflation level, which suggests more rate rises in 2023,” said Chris Bailey, European strategist at Raymond James.

Investors are also awaiting finance minister Rishi Sunak’s budget update to parliament on Wednesday, with updated growth and borrowing forecasts set to be released.

“Spot the inevitable talk about sharply rising energy bills, surging inflation and National Insurance increases. However, let us not forget that there are local elections in the UK in early May, so it will not be too gloomy,” said Bailey.

Further gains were capped by energy stocks, which erased early gains to end 0.7% lower, tracking weaker crude prices as the dollar strengthened and it looked unlikely the European Union would pursue an embargo on Russian oil.[O/R]

Carnival Corp (LON:CCL) fell 1.0% after the cruise operator forecast a loss for the year as efforts to gradually restart operations after a long pandemic-led hiatus face a setback from a surge in fuel prices due to the Russia-Ukraine war.

The domestically focussed midcap index advanced 0.5% with a 3.9% jump in IT services and consulting firm Softcat Plc after its half-year earnings helping sentiment.

Banks drive fifth day of gains for London’s FTSE 100

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