London stocks extend losses on global economic gloom, WH Smith slides

By Khushi Singh and Siddarth S

(Reuters) – Britain’s FTSE 100 edged lower on Wednesday as recent economic data from U.S. and Europe continued to dampen global sentiment, while WH Smith led midcaps lower as the retailer fell short of a recently raised profit forecast.

The exporter-heavy FTSE 100 index was down 0.2%, still clocking smaller declines than the broader STOXX 600 as the pound slumped to a near three-month low against a resurgent dollar. [GBP/]

The midcap FTSE 250 index lost 0.2%, marking a four-day losing streak.

Global markets extended falls as stronger-than-expected U.S. services sector data suggested inflation pressures persist. [MKTS/GLOB]

British construction firms suffered a sharp drop in orders in August, adding to concerns about a slowing economy amid rising interest rates, data showed.

Construction and materials index fell 1.1%.

WH Smith tumbled 6.3% after the retailer fell short of a recently raised profit forecast, even as annual revenue jumped 28%.

Personal goods index, down 4.0%, led sectoral declines, marking the worst day in over 7 weeks.

Cyber-security company Darktrace said changes to its sales commission would squeeze its earnings margin in the current year, sending shares down 2.5%.

“Darktrace really needs a steady period of delivery to help win credibility with the market,” AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould said in a note.

Bridgepoint shares rose 8.2% after the alternative asset fund manager said it would buy Energy Capital Partners for an initial 835 million pounds ($1.05 billion), including debt.

Markets remain cautious as investors await upcoming monetary policy decisions from the Bank of England (BoE) and U.S. Federal Reserve later this month.

BoE Governor Andrew Bailey said the central bank is “much nearer” to ending its run of interest rates increases, but that borrowing costs might still have further to rise due to stubborn inflation pressures.

The BoE is expected to raise borrowing costs again later this month, to 5.5%.

(Reporting by Siddarth S and Khushi Singh in Bengaluru; editing by Sohini Goswami and Mark Heinrich)