UK stocks end mixed, Jackson Hole summit in focus

By Siddarth S and Khushi Singh

(Reuters) -UK stocks ended mixed on Thursday as early optimism on Wall Street faded, with investors growing cautious ahead of the annual Jackson Hole summit where Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell could offer signals on the path of U.S. interest rates.

The exporter-heavy FTSE 100 index edged up 0.2%, while the domestically focussed FTSE 250 index slipped 0.2%.

U.S. stocks retreated after an initial boost from U.S. chipmaker Nvidia’s stellar forecast.

Traders now remain positioned for interest rate guidance from central bankers, including U.S. Fed’s Powell at the Jackson Hole Symposium.

“Investors are taking bets off the table as there is an event risk tomorrow morning,” said, Andrew Bell, CEO of Witan Investment Trust.

“Powell might choose to emphasize the need to keep interest rates high for a long period, which could lead to a weaker phase in the markets.”

Closer to home, the BoE is now predicted to make only one more increase to the Bank Rate, taking it to 5.50% on Sept. 21, when the body meets next.

The day saw a sell-off in cyclical stocks as construction and materials, automobiles and parts and travel and leisure indexes were all down between 1% and 1.3% among others.

Among single stocks, Liontrust Asset Management surged 10.4%, logging its best day in over nine months, after the British asset manager’s takeover offer for GAM failed to gain the required level of investor support.

Hunting Plc fell 5.5% as its annual order book came at the lower end of its forecast, while the energy services firm also announced plans to slim down its non-core assets.

Shares of Harbour Energy dropped 4.5%, after UK’s largest North Sea oil and gas producer narrowed its annual production forecast range.

Life insurers Aviva, Legal & General and Just Group were down between 1.9% and 2.6%, trading ex-dividend. Life insurance index lost 1.3%.

(Reporting by Siddarth S and Khushi Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich, Sonia Cheema and Frances Kerry)