LONDON: UK stocks came under pressure on Friday after data showed factory activity lost more steam in June amid elevated price pressures, underlining the risk of a sharp slowdown or a recession in Britain.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 ended flat after flirting with gains and losses in the session, while the domestically focussed midcap FTSE 250 closed 0.16% lower.
Both the indexes started the second half of 2022 on a subdued note after a rough first half amid worries that rapid rate hikes to tame high inflation would trigger a global recession.
“Fears rattling financial markets show little sign of subsiding, with investors spooked about signs of looming recessions, while inflation stays stubbornly high,” Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown, said.
The S&P Global UK manufacturing purchasing managers’ index fell (PMI) to 52.8 from 54.6 in May, downwardly revised from a preliminary “flash” reading for June of 53.4.
Meanwhile, Bank of England data showed British consumers were cautious about their borrowings as inflation accelerates.
As a result of rising fears that higher cost of borrowing would hurt further the UK economy, traders have scaled back some of their Bank of England (BoE) rate hike expectations for the year. The BoE has raised interest rates five times since December and its next scheduled announcement is on Aug. 4.
On Friday, miners slid 3.2% and were the biggest drags on the FTSE 100. However, those losses were countered by a rise in defensive consumer staples and utilities stocks.
Shell fell 0.6% as the oil major suspended plans to sell its onshore oil assets in Nigeria, and after Russia moved to create a new firm to take charge of the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project.
Shell, together with two Japanese trading companies, holds just under a 50% stake in Sakhalin Energy Investment Co. Jupiter Fund Management and Abrdn slid 4.2% and 3.3% respectively, after Citigroup downgraded the fund managers’ stocks to “sell” from “neutral”.