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Muted stock markets today, but decline evident in October

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The FTSE 100 index inched up by a marginal 0.2% in today’s trading. The FTSE 250 index on the other hand, was marginally down by 0.1%. This is a continuation of the trend seen earlier during the week as well, which is, that the FTSE 250 index is weakening more compared to the FTSE 100. 

What is going on

This becomes more evident when we look at the stock market data for October so far. While the FTSE 100 index is down by 0.4% from September, the FTSE 250 is down by a whole 4.5%. This to me indicates potential investor diffidence about UK-centric companies, something I mentioned a few days ago as well. This is not hard to understand, going by rising fuel prices in the UK as a result of lorry driver shortages as well as the withdrawal of government support in the form of the stamp duty holiday and the furlough scheme. 

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Oil biggies lead FTSE 100 index

The FTSE 100 index, on the other hand, made some gains today on account of the pressure on fuel prices. The biggest index gainers were oil biggies BP and Royal Dutch Shell. While the BP share price rose by 2.5%, the Shell share price increased by 2.1% as WTI crude futures breached $80 a barrel, reaching the highest levels since November 2014. 

Other cyclical stocks like banking biggie Standard Chartered, aero-engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce, and International Consolidated Airlines Group, possibly on improving global sentiment about the recovery and in a bid to buy stocks with potential while they are still down. 

Packaging providers fall

As far as the FTSE 100 losers go, both Mondi and Smurfit Kappa feature among the top five stocks that ended up weaker. Both are packaging providers that have performed well last year as online shopping unexpectedly took off in the pandemic. However, they have been plagued by rising cost pressures this year, as inflation continues to inch up. Mondi released a strong update earlier during the week, as it successfully passed on costs to customers. However, with inflation still elevated, it could impact the company in the coming months. 

Other FTSE 100 losers included engineering groups Aveva and Spirax-Sarco Engineering as well as property portal Rightmove.

Energy among FTSE 250 gainers too

Unsurprisingly, one of the top five FTSE 250 gainers was Harbour Energy, earlier called Premier Oil, which saw an increase of 5.5%. Others included Wood Group, which saw a 6.4% increase and Baltic Classifieds, that rose by 6%.

Travel still in doldrums

The biggest FTSE 250 faller was the travel operator TUI, which fell by a huge 15.5%, wiping out all the gains made since mid-September. The company said earlier in the week that it plans to reduce debt by going for a rights issue. Student accommodation provider Unite Group was also a loser as it lowered profit estimates. It fell by 4.6%. It was followed by homewares retailer Dunelm, which fell by 3%.

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Manika Premsingh owns shares of BP, Rightmove, and Royal Dutch Shell B. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Rightmove and Standard Chartered. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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