The FTSE 100 took another step back on Thursday as a second day of testimony in front of Washington lawmakers by Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell largely stuck to the hawkish tone of the previous day.
AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould said: “While Powell softened things a little by saying nothing is decided yet, the clear message is future rate decisions will be dependent on the data and for now that seems to be tilting things more towards a 50-basis point rather than 25 basis point rate rise later this month.
“This would shatter the market’s comfortable illusion at the start of the year that rates were about to pivot and a soft landing for the US economy could be engineered.
“A bright spot on the UK market was offered by insurer Aviva, where current CEO Amanda Blanc has done an enviable job.
“Streamlining operations and selling off underperforming businesses is a well-worn strategy, but one Blanc has executed well and that’s evident in the 2022 numbers which show a big increase in profit and dividends accompanied by a big share buyback.”