FTSE 100 climbs on pharma boost, UK CPI in focus

By Khushi Singh and Bansari Mayur Kamdar

(Reuters) -Britain’s FTSE 100 rose on Tuesday after latest figures showing a weakening labour market lifted investor sentiment ahead of highly awaited inflation data later this week.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 gained 0.6%, while the mid-cap index closed 1.0% higher.

AstraZeneca was up 2.7% as Guggenheim raised its price target on the heavyweight drugmaker, while the broader healthcare index added 2.1%.

Rolls-Royce rose 1.0% after the engineering company said it would cut 2,000-2,500 roles across its global business as part of a cost-reduction drive.

Data showed growth in British workers’ regular pay – which is being watched closely by the Bank of England – slowed from a previous record high, with job vacancies also declining.

The rate-sensitive homebuilders’ index added 2.3% and led sectoral gains, while Bellway reversed early losses and gained 3.3% even as the homebuilder forecast about a one-third slump in annual output.

“UK earnings data suggests that signs of slack continue to emerge, highlighting the fragility of the economy as elevated inflation and the Bank of England’s (BoE) rate hikes take their toll on the jobs market,” said Victoria Scholar, head of investment at Interactive Investor.

Recent labour market data have shown a softening economy which is likely to lead to slower wage growth and reduced inflation pressure, said BoE policymaker Swati Dhingra, who has consistently voted against rate rises this year.

The focus turned to UK CPI data due on Wednesday for further cues on BoE’s rate hike path.

Energy stocks rose 0.9% as oil prices moved higher ahead of a trip by U.S. President Joe Biden to the Middle East. [O/R]

St. James’s Place slipped 0.5% after it said it will change its fee structure for most new investment bonds and pensions.

Meanwhile, Jupiter Fund Management fell 9.8% after reporting bigger than expected net outflows in its third quarter as it grapples with muted retail investor appetite and volatile markets amid high inflation.

(Reporting by Khushi Singh and Bansari Mayur Kamdar in Bengaluru; editing by Varun H K and Mark Heinrich)