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Dec. 20, 2018, 3:30 p.m. EST

U.K. stocks finish lower as sinking oil weighs on FTSE 100

Bank of England leaves interest rates on hold

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By Anneken Tappe, MarketWatch , Emily Horton

U.K. stocks ended Thursday’s session in negative territory, amid a global risk-off shift and further declines in the oil price, which weighed on London-listed commodity stocks.

Meanwhile, the Bank of England left interest rates unchanged but stressed risks surrounding global growth and Brexit, just one day after the Federal Reserve raised rates by 25 basis points but pared down its expectations for further hikes in 2019.

How are the markets performing

The FTSE 100 /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX -0.97% closed 0.8% lower at 6,711.93, after climbing 1% on Wednesday.

The British pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD +0.0368% strengthened to $1.2667, compared with $1.2662 on Wednesday, on the heels of a weaker U.S. dollar /zigman2/quotes/210598269/delayed DXY +0.60% .

What is driving markets?

Wednesday’s decision by the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates for a fourth time this year while lowering its expectations for further hikes and highlighting risks led to a global risk-off move across financial markets on Thursday.

“The Fed showed no indication that they were prepared to rein back the pace of balance sheet reduction, and while they lowered their estimates for rate rises next year to two from three, it was almost as if they were offering a tin ear to market concerns,” Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, wrote in a note to clients.

Meanwhile, the Bank of England left interest rates unchanged, as expected. However, it warned that since its last meeting, “the near-term outlook for global growth has softened and downside risks to growth have increased.”

Read: BOE sees intensifying market unease over Brexit

U.K. retail sales figures for November sales were positive, rebounding strongly to 1.4%, the best monthly performance since April’s 1.6% rise.

Meanwhile, oil futures moved lower once again, with the global crude oil benchmark  falling nearly 5% lower. Brent Crude for February 2019 delivery  dropped 4.6%.

In the pharmaceutical sector, Major drug makers reportedly plan to hike prices of their drugs in the U.S. in January, according to a Reuters report.

What stocks are active?

Heavyweight oil stocks fell, with Royal Dutch Shell PLC /zigman2/quotes/206428183/delayed UK:RDSA -1.38%  closing 1.3% lower and BP PLC ending down 2%.

Airline stocks dropped after U.K. airport London Gatwick shut down late Wednesday, amid reports that two drones were flying above the airfield led to a formal investigation. Ryanair /zigman2/quotes/206299452/delayed XE:RY4C +0.32%  ended 2.3% lower.

Pharmaceutical companies, which earlier led gainers, reversed their wins. GlaxoSmithKline PLC /zigman2/quotes/200381158/delayed UK:GSK +1.45%  closed 0.2% lower, and AstraZeneca PLC /zigman2/quotes/203048482/delayed UK:AZN +0.44%  fell 0.4%. Biotechnology company Shire PLC was one of the biggest gainers in the session and held on to its gains, closing up 1.3%.

Water company Severn Trent PLC /zigman2/quotes/207458310/delayed UK:SVT +0.13% ended 2.9% higher, while electricity and gas utility National Grid PLC gained 2.4%.

-66.25 -0.97%
Volume: 713,361
Jan. 15, 2021 4:58p
US : Tullett Prebon
+0.0005 +0.0368%
Volume: 0.0000
Jan. 15, 2021 4:59p
US : U.S.: ICE Futures U.S.
+0.55 +0.60%
Volume: 0.00
Jan. 15, 2021 5:00p
UK : U.K.: London
£ 1,483.00
-20.80 -1.38%
Volume: 5.36M
Jan. 15, 2021 4:35p
P/E Ratio
Dividend Yield
Market Cap
£113.10 billion
Rev. per Employee
XE : Germany: Xetra
+0.05 +0.32%
Volume: 8,691
Jan. 15, 2021 6:30p
P/E Ratio
Dividend Yield
Market Cap
€17.81 billion
Rev. per Employee
UK : U.K.: London
1,413.60 p
+20.20 +1.45%
Volume: 7.65M
Jan. 15, 2021 4:35p
P/E Ratio
Dividend Yield
Market Cap
£70.58 billion
Rev. per Employee
UK : U.K.: London
7,592.00 p
+33.00 +0.44%
Volume: 2.07M
Jan. 15, 2021 4:35p
P/E Ratio
Dividend Yield
Market Cap
£99.66 billion
Rev. per Employee
UK : U.K.: London
2,343.00 p
+3.00 +0.13%
Volume: 491,175
Jan. 15, 2021 4:35p
P/E Ratio
Dividend Yield
Market Cap
£5.60 billion
Rev. per Employee

Anneken Tappe is a markets reporter for MarketWatch. She is based in New York.

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