Wednesday, 20 March: European markets opened lower today as fears over progress in US and Chinese trade talks heightened, as well as the ever-imposing Brexit confusion. As the pound extended falls the FTSE was somewhat protected, closing the day 0.32% lower in comparison to falls in Germany and France of 1.3% and 0.5% respectively, following a mixed Asian session earlier in the day.
Markets were left digesting May’s ultimatum that the UK would leave by the 30 June (2019) just to clarify, but of course the EU could refuse our right to even delay until then tomorrow. It is clear now there simply isn’t enough time to get a deal done by the end of the month and so no we need a 3-month extension. Speculation and Brexit really don’t mix so we shall wait to see how the EU plays it tomorrow and go from there.
This morning inflation data showed that February saw a CPI read of 1.9%, a tick up from 1.8% last month. Higher prices of food, alcohol and video games contributing.
One of the biggest winners on the day was mobile telecommunications company Inmarsat after receiving a proposal from a private-equity led consortium for $7.21 p/share. Today shares in the firm closed 13% higher. On the FTSE 250 Inmarsat’s shares were followed by TI Fluid Systems, whom saw a 12% gain today after their latest results showed solid underlying performance and a pre-tax profit rise despite falling revenue. In other news Kingfisher posted a pre-tax profit decline of 53% for fiscal 2019 and announced they will close 19 stores in Germany as well as the departure of their CEO Veronique Laury. The CEO departs just over midway through their 5 year ‘ONE Kingfisher’ transformation plan which never really took off, especially among investors. Shares finished 6.4% lower at the bottom of the FTSE 100 today, joined by housebuilders Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey, Berkley and Barrat.
As we leave US markets have began their session with large losses ahead of the Fed’s rate decision later tonight. The Dow sits 0.7% lower with the NASDAQ 0.5% lower, as traditional safe havens are among very few winning asset classes on Wednesday.