FTSE 100 hits six-week high as ECB signals end to rate hikes

By Siddarth S and Shubham Batra

(Reuters) -The UK’s FTSE 100 hit its highest in six weeks on Thursday after the European Central Bank signalled an end to its monetary tightening cycle, while industrial metal miners led the gains after a surge in iron ore prices.

The exporter-heavy FTSE 100 index rose the most in over 10 months, soaring 2.0%. The midcap index mirrored the moves and was up 1.8%.

The European Central Bank raised its key interest rate to a record high of 4% on Thursday but, with the euro zone economy in the doldrums, signalled that the hike, its 10th in a 14-month-long fight against inflation, was likely to be its last.

“The focus is now shifting from how high policy rates get to how long they stay there,” said Ann-Katrin Petersen, Senior Investment Strategist at the BlackRock Investment Institute.

“We see inflation remaining sufficiently high that the ECB will not cut until well into 2024 amid a tight labour market and subdued productivity.”

Boosting sentiment, data from U.S. on Wednesday showed the annual rise in underlying inflation was the smallest in nearly two years, even as consumer prices increased by the most in 14 months in August.

Leading the gains on the index, industrial metal miners jumped 5.0% after iron ore prices surged supported by China’s measures to boost demand and JP Morgan raising its target price for Rio Tinto and Anglo American.

Shares of the miners rose 4.7% and 7.7%, respectively.

Among other stocks, Trainline shot up 11.6% after the firm reported higher ticket sales for the first half of financial year 2024 and announced share buy back of up to 50 million pounds ($62.4 million).

IG Group added 3.6% after British online trading platform reported a marginal rise in its first-quarter revenue.

Meanwhile, Hipgnosis Songs Fund fell 6.5% after rising earlier in the session. The music catalogues investor said it will sell some catalogues to a partnership between its investment adviser and funds advised by Blackstone for $465 million.

($1 = 0.8053 pounds)

(Reporting by Siddarth S in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu, Dhanya Ann Thoppil and Hugh Lawson)