US economy

MARKET WRAP: FTSE edges higher, UK records 100,000 daily COVID cases

© Reuters.

Key Points

  • FTSE 100 closing price of 7341.1 (+0.6%)
  • Markets meander heading into Christmas
  • UK daily COVID cases hit new record
  • Just Eat announces One Stop partnership
  • GBP higher, EUR/GBP drops below 0.8500
  • UK GDP revised lower in Q3
  • Oil edges higher
  • Bitcoin posts gains, remains below $50K

By Samuel Indyk – The edged higher on Wednesday in quiet trade as markets settle down ahead of Christmas. Rolls-Royce (LON:) was one of the best performing stocks in the blue-chip index as new strict travel restrictions caused by the Omicron variant look unlikely despite its rapid spread. According to Politico, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is expected to confirm that Omicron causes less severe disease than Delta, probably in part due to Britain’s large number of vaccinated and previously infected people, and possibly because Omicron may be intrinsically milder.

Although there are hopes of a less severe illness, daily COVID cases in the UK exceeded 100,000 for the first time which could lead to significant pressure on the healthcare system. The UK reported 106,122 cases of COVID in the last 24 hours.

Just Eat (LON:) was in focus after the company announced a partnership with convenience store chain One Stop. The deal will see Just Eat expand its grocery offering and has launched with an initial 40 stores, with a view to further expansion.

GBP was stronger despite a downward revision to third quarter in the UK. GDP grew just 1.1% in the third quarter, below the previous estimate of 1.3%.

“Our revised figures show UK GDP recovered a little slower in the third quarter, with much weaker performances from health and hairdressers across the quarter, and the energy sector contracting more in September, than we previously estimated,” said Office for National Statistics Director of Economic Statistics Darren Morgan.

Nevertheless, dropped back below 0.8500 to its lowest level since 16th December.

and crude futures held on to slight gains following the latest inventory data from the Energy Information Administration. The EIA said crude stockpiles declined by 4.715 million barrels in the latest week, more than the expected drawdown of 2.75 million barrels. US crude stocks held in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve dropped by 3.5 million barrels to their lowest level since November 2002.

Most major cryptocurrencies were higher with edging back towards $50,000, although even digital assets appear to be in holiday mode.

“Bitcoin continues to face a wall at the $50,000 level and until that level is breached, speculators may remain on the sidelines,” OANDA Senior Market Analyst Edward Moya wrote in an emailed note.


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