World stock markets swerved on Wednesday before a US Federal Reserve interest rate decision, with London dipping on data showing that UK inflation spiked to its highest level for more than a decade.
The British capital’s benchmark FTSE 100 slid 0.3 per cent in afternoon trading after news that UK inflation hit 5.1 per cent in November, sending the pound climbing in anticipation of a possible interest rate rise.
The Paris CAC 40 index added 0.6 per cent and Frankfurt’s DAX rose 0.3 per cent on the eve of rate calls from both the European Central Bank and the Bank of England.
On Wall Street, both the Dow and S&P 500 opened flat, while the Nasdaq dipped ahead of the Fed rate decision later in the day.
Oil prices fell further on stubborn fears about weakening demand due to fallout from the Omicron coronavirus variant.
Inflationary pressure intensifies
Pressure is mounting on major central banks to get a grip on runaway inflation, sent soaring this year by a spike in energy prices, long-running supply chain snags and surging demand.
Asian equities mostly fell as investors nervously awaited the Fed, which is expected to announce a speedier withdrawal of its massive financial support just as Omicron fans economic recovery concerns.
The BoE is however forecast to hold its record-low interest rate, despite rampant inflation, as policymakers continue to fret over Omicron.
“The pound is on the front foot ahead of a crucial 24-hour period that sees the Fed, BoE, and ECB all release their latest monetary policy decisions,” said IG analyst Joshua Mahony.
“With UK CPI inflation reaching a 10-year high, the Bank of England will be under pressure to lay out their plans — even if they do hold off on raising rates tomorrow
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