FTSE 100 starts week on high note on insurers boost; CPI numbers on watch

By Khushi Singh and Siddarth S

(Reuters) -UK’s FTSE 100 enjoyed a robust start to the week led by insurers after Phoenix Group shares jumped on a forecast upgrade, while investors awaited crucial economic numbers this week including inflation readings from both the UK and U.S.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 closed 0.9% higher on Monday, while the mid-cap index added 0.3%.

Shares of Phoenix Group jumped nearly 6% after the insurer raised its full-year cash generation forecast.

The broader life insurance index climbed 2.3%.

Investors will be hawk-eyed on inflation numbers from the UK and U.S. this week that will offer more clues on the interest rate path.

On an annual basis, UK’s October inflation report on Wednesday is expected to ease to 4.8% from 6.7% in September, according to a Reuters poll.

Across the Atlantic on Tuesday, U.S. headline consumer prices is expected to ease to 3.3% in October from 3.7% in September.

“The FTSE 100 has found a dose of Monday motivation amid hopes that peak interest rates have been reached, despite warnings about America’s huge debt pile and ongoing geo-political fracture,” Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets at Hargreaves Lansdown, said in a note.

“There is a little more optimism edging in on markets ahead of key inflation data out this week, with sentiment fluctuating about what lies ahead for monetary policy.”

Rate-sensitive homebuilders climbed 0.5%, while brokerage Jefferies raised price targets of Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey and Berkeley further boosting the broader index.

Property firm British Land forecast an annual overall rental increase at the top end of its previous forecast range, sending shares up 1.8%.

Tullow Oil shares gained 5% on entering into a $400 million five-year debt deal with Glencore.

Dr Martens sank nearly 9% after Barclays downgraded the bootmaker’s stock.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak brought back former leader David Cameron as foreign minister on Monday in a reshuffle triggered by his firing of interior minister Suella Braverman after her criticism of police threatened his authority.

The sterling gained 0.3% against the dollar.

(Reporting by Khushi Singh and Siddarth S; Editing by Dhanya Ann Thoppil, Janane Venkatraman and Josie Kao)