- US inflation data in focus ahead of Fed meeting
- UK inflation falls, Eurozone inflation picks up
- Supermarket fall on competition from discounters
- Car insurance is too high, claims Competition Commission
techMARK 2,684.75 -0.05%
FTSE 100 6,486.19 -0.55%
FTSE 250 15,348.56 -0.23%
UK markets pulled back on Tuesday following some strong gains the previous session as falls in the supermarket, car insurance and banking sectors weighed on the FTSE 100.
After bargain hunters stepped in on Monday following a four-day losing streak, investors chose to adopt a cautious approach today as financial markets worldwide prepared for tomorrow's outcome of the Federal Reserve's policy meeting.
While expectations remain finely balanced, there is a possibility that the Fed could begin to scale back its stimulus programme in the face of improving economic data and a calmer political backdrop in Washington.
However, US consumer price index (CPI) figures released today showed that the rate of core inflation held steady during November as it continues to undershoot the Fed's target.
"European markets have had a somewhat weaker tone today after yesterday's strong rebound saw the single biggest one day gains since October," said Chief Market Analyst Michael Hewson from CMC Markets. "The rather less exuberant tone is understandable as the long awaited two day Fed meeting gets underway," he said.
The FTSE 100 finished 36.01 points lower at 6,486.19 after a 1.3% surge the day before as the index bounced off its worst level in over two months.
Inflation figures were also in focus on this side of the Pond, the rate of UK CPI inflation unexpectedly fell to 2.1% last month, edging close to the Bank of England's 2% target.
However, the final reading of Eurozone CPI confirmed that inflation picked up to 0.9% in November, in line with the preliminary estimate and up from 0.7% in October.
In other economic data, a German sentiment survey which smashed forecasts by rising to its highest level since April 2006.
Supermarkets, car insurers fall after industry reports
Supermarkets stocks were registering losses on Tuesday afternoon after a report from Kantar Worldpanel revealed that over half the UK shopped in either Aldi or Lidl during the 12 weeks to December 8th for the first time in history. Sainsbury, Tesco and Morrison all finished lower.
Motor insurers declined after the Competition Commission said that car insurance in the UK was too high and that drivers were footing the bill for unnecessary costs incurred during the claims process following an accident. Shares in esure, Admiral and Direct Line were all lower by the close.
General insurer RSA however was making gains as it continues to rebound after being hit hard by a profit warning on Friday, as well as the resignation of its Chief Executive. Yesterday, S&P downgraded its credit rating on the stock on Monday to 'A-' with a 'Developing Outlook', having already downgraded last week, while Fitch cut its outlook to 'Rating Watch Negative'.
Mining stocks were broadly higher with Antofagasta, Rio Tinto and Glencore Xstrata among the best performers.
Barclays fell after calling for the US courts to block energy regulators from collecting $488m of fines for electricity trading market manipulation. Banking peers HSBC, RBS and Lloyds also finished lower.
Consumer electricals group Dixons declined despite beating forecasts with its first underlying profit in six years during if first half. However, the company did warn that the second half would be tougher.
AIM-listed iodine producer Iofina was a big mover, plummeting by 28% after a profit warning. The company said that underlying earnings this year are likely to be similar to 2012 after expected 2013 shipments from its chemical division were delayed into 2014.
FTSE 100 - Risers
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 92.40p +2.55%
Sage Group (SGE) 382.30p +1.95%
Mondi (MNDI) 960.00p +1.53%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 779.50p +1.50%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 711.00p +1.21%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,255.00p +1.13%
Croda International (CRDA) 2,337.00p +1.08%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,155.00p +0.96%
Carnival (CCL) 2,210.00p +0.91%
Glencore Xstrata (GLEN) 308.00p +0.85%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 378.60p -4.27%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,110.00p -3.73%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 256.70p -2.91%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,233.00p -2.22%
Tesco (TSCO) 324.50p -1.96%
BP (BP.) 465.00p -1.73%
IMI (IMI) 1,440.00p -1.71%
Hammerson (HMSO) 489.60p -1.55%
Barclays (BARC) 251.30p -1.47%
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) 1,566.00p -1.45%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 184.00p +4.25%
Fisher (James) & Sons (FSJ) 1,257.00p +4.23%
Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) 50.80p +3.67%
Perform Group (PER) 244.40p +3.56%
CSR (CSR) 619.00p +3.51%
Go-Ahead Group (GOG) 1,704.00p +3.15%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 160.80p +3.08%
Pace (PIC) 298.30p +2.86%
Dairy Crest Group (DCG) 525.50p +2.84%
TalkTalk Telecom Group (TALK) 291.20p +2.82%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Dixons Retail (DXNS) 48.73p -5.01%
Debenhams (DEB) 82.00p -4.48%
Alent (ALNT) 333.80p -4.03%
UBM (UBM) 624.50p -3.92%
Interserve (IRV) 637.00p -3.85%
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 19.32p -3.40%
Shaftesbury (SHB) 598.00p -3.00%
esure Group (ESUR) 240.00p -2.83%
Carpetright (CPR) 530.00p -2.66%
Cranswick (CWK) 1,138.00p -2.65%