The FTSE 100 pushed to another 16-month high on Wednesday, despite dampened conditions in the US as traders awaited a decision on interest rates which were widely tipped to remain unchanged.
The index closed up another 12.47 points to settle at 7,184.95 – for the second day in a row reaching its highest close since February 2020, before the pandemic sell-off began.
In the US, both the S&P 500 and Dow Jones indexes awaited a decision from the Federal Reserve on what to do with interest rates.
“It’s highly unlikely the Fed will say anything that might upset the apple cart risk-wise, though we could well see the early signs of some discussion of a timetable to tapering in its monthly bond purchase programme, which is currently running at 120 billion dollars a month,” Michael Hewson, an analyst at CMC Markets, said.
“In light of recent data, it would be more surprising if they didn’t start a discussion of this nature.”
Any such signal of a change could have an impact on the dollar, said IG chief market analyst Chris Beauchamp.
“Markets have been in deep freeze the last few days waiting for tonight’s decision, but those hoping for a mis-step from the chairman will probably be disappointed – he knows where the questions will focus and will be determined not to be caught on the hop,” he said.
In currency markets, sterling was flat for the second day in a row. As stock markets closed in Europe, one pound was worth 1.4104 dollars or 1.1639 euros.
On the continent, Germany’s Dax dipped 0.1% while the Cac in Paris rose 0.2%.
The price of Brent crude oil had increased by 1.2% to 74.89 dollars per barrel.
Dignity’s shares remained unchanged by the end of the day, indicating that investors are unconcerned by a new plan from the Competition and Markets Authority to force funeral directors and crematoria to clearly display their standard prices.
Sofa seller ScS said that it expects to do better than previously forecast this year. Orders are currently around 50% higher than they were a year ago. Shares closed up 5.5%.
Electra Private Equity said that it plans to demerge from Fridays, the bar and restaurant chain, in the third quarter of this year. Its shares rose 6.8%.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Flutter Entertainment, up 430p to 13,765p, Weir Group, up 51.5p to 1,923.5p, Admiral Group, up 82p to 3,237p, and Bunzl, up 50p to 2,354p.
The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were AB Foods, down 43p to 2,324p, Vodafone, down 1.84p to 130.16p, Glencore, down 3.95p to 317.05p, Anglo American, down 35.5p to 2,963.5p, and Barclays, down 2.1p to 177.12p.