The FTSE 100 took a modest step back on Wednesday as UK third quarter growth figures came in short of expectations, dragged lower by weak exports.
Investors are preparing to go into hibernation for Christmas and will hope by this time next week we’ll know a lot more about the trajectory of Omicron and the likelihood of further restrictions to contain it, and just how long those curbs will be in place.
For now the markets, bar the odd day, have just about managed to hold on to the idea that, to employ central bankers’ favourite word of 2021, Omicron’s impact will be transitory.
“If that changes, we could see a more pronounced sell-off in global stocks as growth expectations for 2022 are rapidly reset,” says AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould.
“The disappointing figures on the UK economy were before the Omicron wave hit, so there will be some concern that they represent the calm before the storm and the situation will be revealed to be significantly worse when the fourth quarter numbers are printed.
“Taylor Wimpey nudged higher as it became the latest housebuilder to back down in the face of a probe by the competition authority on escalating ground rents. Leaseholders of its properties which were lumbered with these onerous charges were left struggling to sell or get a mortgage.
“Housebuilders have benefited hugely from state-backed schemes aimed at increasing the number of homes built in the UK and it would be unwise to risk alienating politicians or the public further over this issue.”
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