The FTSE 100 took its cue from strong trading in the US and Asia to make gains on Thursday morning as investors await the crunch Jackson Hole summit in Wyoming.
There’s a lot riding on US Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell’s address tomorrow. Speculation is running so hot ahead of his remarks that it feels like even subtle variations in intonation could make a difference to jittery markets.
Investors appear to be factoring in a pretty aggressive stance from Powell already, anticipating rates going higher and staying there for longer to get inflation under control.
AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould said: “Any suggestion the Fed might ease up a bit would likely spark a very positive response in the markets, but if Powell goes the other way and is even more hawkish than many have been predicting, it could exacerbate the recent wobble in markets.”
SHELL AND CENTRICA
Shell’s overcharging of its retail energy customers won’t have done it any favours during a crisis which is putting its mega-profits under the microscope.
“Tomorrow’s increase in the UK price cap will paint a fuller picture of just how acute the pressure from energy bills will be on households this winter. The scale of the crisis is almost certain to demand a pretty ambitious political solution and one which the energy producers themselves might not like.”
British Gas owner Centrica is, in rather piecemeal fashion, looking to do its bit to pre-empt action from regulators and the Government, by donating 10% of profits to a fund to help ease the pain for the poorest households.
Building materials firm CRH demonstrated its pricing power as first half earnings were up an impressive 13%, driven by double-digit price increases. The company’s exposure to big infrastructure projects provides it with some insulation against any economic downturn.