UK stocks slip as rate hike, inflation fears bite; Wizz Air down on bleak outlook

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen outside the entrance of the London Stock Exchange in London

By Anisha Sircar and Amal S

(Reuters) -London's blue-chip index slipped on Wednesday on worries that aggressive policy tightening by central banks will stifle global growth, while Wizz Air fell after the budget airline forecast a first-quarter operating loss.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 was down 0.1%, with banks and miners among the biggest drags.

Financial stocks were not proving resilient in the session as fears about how the slowdown will affect borrowing are making investors nervous, said Susannah Streeter, senior markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

Markets expect the European Central Bank on Thursday to lay the groundwork for rapid rate rises. Money markets ramped up bets on Wednesday to price in 75 basis points of hikes from the ECB by September. [ECBWATCH]

While for the Bank of England, markets are pricing in another 25-basis-point rate rise at the upcoming June meeting. [BOEWATCH]

The midcap FTSE 250 was down 0.4%.

The domestically focused index is down more than 13.4% this year on fears about the economic toll from surging prices, while the blue-chip FTSE 100 has edged up 2.7%, buoyed by strong commodity prices.

Strike action by rail workers later this month will lead to a complete shut-down of Britain's train network, their union said on Tuesday in what it billed as the biggest industrial action in the rail sector in more than 30 years.

"All these domestic developments have stalled the market's movement as well, which is going through a profound period of perception change from market participants," said Kunal Sawhney, CEO, Kalkine Group.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development on Wednesday cut its 2022 global growth forecast to 2.8% from 3.2%, a day after the World Bank slashed its estimates by nearly a third to 2.9%.

Meanwhile, Standard Chartered fell 1.6% after Chief Executive Bill Winters expects central banks' fight against surging inflation, driven by structural cost pressures such as wage growth, to result in a "relatively shallow and short" recession by early next year.

Wizz Air fell 9.5% after it said it was suffering significant costs from cancellations and "operational hiccups" at airports, especially in the United Kingdom, and forecast a first-quarter operating loss.

(Reporting by Anisha Sircar and Amal S in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Alison Williams)

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