After a shaky start to the week, the FTSE 350 picked up a bit Wednesday, in advance of Thursday’s hotly-awaited interest rate decision.
The FTSE 100 ended Wednesday with a 45 point rise to 7,238 points, a 0.6% gain. The top index was led by Hargreaves Lansdown, Persimmon and BAE Systems, all posting 4% gains or better. Ocado continued its slide, with a further 5% loss.
There were some bigger movements for FTSE 250 stocks, as Wood Group headed the mid-cap index with a 7% gain. Aston Martin shares fell another 10%. The net effect on the FTSE 350 was a 27 point (0.7%) rise to 4,008 points.
These movements came a day ahead of Thursday’s interest rate decision. The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee postponed last week’s decision due to the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
The only uncertainty seems to be the size of the next rise. General expectations are for 0.5%. But some think it could be as high as 0.75% in response to growing inflation fears. Inflation came in lower than expected in August at 9.9%, but it’s expected to rise above 10% again.
The S&P 500 was marginally ahead for much of Wednesday, but dipped 1.7% by close after the Federal Reserve lifted interest rates by a further 0.75%. The Nasdaq performed similarly, with a late dive to close down 1.8%.
First-half results from Playtech are due Thursday. The gambling software specialist has already told us that it’s trading ahead of expectations. And it’s looking at various ways to expand into the American market.
The Playtech share price has had a volatile 12 months, gaining 12% overall. Analysts are forecasting two years of strong earnings growth.
A number of UK stocks go ex-dividend Thursday. Other things equal, we’d expect the share prices to dip by a similar amount to the dividend.
Final ex-dividends include Hargreaves Lansdown in the FTSE 100, and IG Group and Redrow in the FTSE 250.
Hitting first-half ex-dividend status we have Crest Nicholson Holdings, JTC, Essentra, HGCapital Trust, and Fidelity European Trust. Those are all FTSE 250 stocks.
Dividend payments come sometime after ex-dividend dates, and a number of payments from FTSE 100 companies will be going out Thursday.
Final dividend payments are going to SSE shareholders, while Glencore, Rio Tinto and Entain shareholders will all be getting their first-half payments.