Finance

FTSE 100 Live: Europe’s Covid-19 battle adds to market jitters


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urope’s battle to contain a fourth wave of Covid-19 will be the main focus for investors today as more countries appear ready to ramp up restrictions.

Shares in airlines and other leisure stocks have struggled this week amid the renewed uncertainty, leading to mixed trading for the FTSE 100 index and Europe’s main benchmarks.

Wall Street is closed for the Thankgiving holiday, meaning trading volumes in London will be lighter than usual today. Annual results from pubs chain Mitchells & Butlers provide the main corporate highlight.

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Fed minutes reveal inflation anxiety

The FTSE 100 index is forecast to open 15 points higher at 7301, having closed up yesterday for the third session in a row.

The performance was helped by resilience in the energy sector after oil prices traded near to one-week highs, while defensive telecom and utilities were in demand amid fears over the economic impact of potential further lockown measures in Europe.

Cyclical plays such as leisure and automotive stocks continued their recent decline.

Wall Street finished on the front foot last night before traders headed off for the Thanksgiving holiday. The tech-laden Nasdaq, which was under pressure earlier this week due to fears of higher US interest rates, finished 0.4% stronger.

Last night’s minutes from the US Federal Reserve showed that policymakers appear increasingly anxious about rising prices and their effect on the US economy, with some aruging for a faster taper than the $15 billion a month agreed earlier two week ago.

Michael Hewson, chief markets analyst at CMC Market, said: “Over the last two meetings there seems to be much less confidence that what we are seeing is transitory in nature.”

The US dollar rallied overnight to leave the pound at $1.33 versus the greenback.

Brent crude, meanwhile, continues to trade above $82 a barrel after an initiative by major oil consuming nations to release some of their strategic reserves failed to put downward pressure on prices.

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