Business

FTSE-100 rises after choppy reaction to new US inflation target from Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell

The FTSE-100 was set to rise today after a choppy reaction in markets to the US Federal Reserve’s widely expected announcement that it would take a relaxed view on inflation when considering interest rates.

Federal Reserve governor Jerome Powell said the bank would no longer be targeting 2% inflation above all else when it sets monetary policy, instead being happy to see prices run above that level for some time if it protects the wider US economy.

The wording essentially means interest rates will be lower for longer, which should have boosted markets. But because it had been so widely expected, shares responded erratically, perhaps because his wording was not as specific as some investors had expected.

European markets ended down, with the FTSE-100 off nearly 1% by the close of play.

That suggests the index will have another mixed session today, kicking off with a 35 point rise to 6034 according to CMC Markets data.

One thing’s for sure: Powell’s words make today’s set piece economic data – US inflation – less relevant than ever.

Due out at 1.30 pm UK time, it’s likely to rise from 0.9% to 1.2% in July. Plenty of wiggle room for the Fed, even without its new relaxed approach to the cost of living.

Powell’s UK opposite, Andrew Bailey, is speaking this afternoon at the same conference in Jackson Hole but is not expected to light any fireworks on monetary policy guidance.

After yesterday’s shocking numbers from Rolls-Royce, expect more volatility in the aero engines maker’s shares today.

They were savaged after it yesterday admitted to massive outflows of cash in the coming years.

Investors are now split over whether, with shares down around two-thirds in the past year, they now represent a bargain or whether it will just keep on disappointing.

After falling more than 5% in the morning, Rolls closed down only around 1%.

ITV could come under more pressure amid growing press coverage of its pending ejection from the FTSE-100 after nearly a decade.

The quarterly reshuffle of the Premier League index is next week and the company’s shares have more than halved this year.

British Land may also be for the chop having seen its stock fall more than 40% due to the Covid-inflicted rout for retail and office landlords.

As with ITV, while fewer tracker funds focus solely on the FTSE-100 now than in days of yore, losing coveted Footsie status can bear down further on a share price as retail investors wise up to the prospect.

The M&A bandwagon continued apace yesterday as Wal-Mart bizarrely entered the fray to buy TikTok’s US operations from its Chinese owners.

The US supermarket chain is teaming up with Microsoft to bid. Apparently it reckons a stake in the social media site will boost its popularity with younger people and help it compete with Amazon for online sales.

Odd reasoning in many people’s minds, but while big-ticket M&A is on the rise and central banks are keeping interest rates low, enthusiasm for buying shares will keep bubbling along.