FTSE 100 steady as investors wait for US payrolls data

By Shashwat Chauhan and Sruthi Shankar

(Reuters) -The UK’s FTSE 100 was little changed on Thursday with investors on the sidelines ahead of U.S. payrolls data which could drive Federal Reserve rate cut expectations, while shares of Games Workshop and media firm Future pulled down the midcap index.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 was also steady on the week as traders assessed economic data from across the globe and looked ahead to Friday’s monthly U.S. jobs report.

“Barring a shock payroll reading tomorrow, Wall Street seems to be in a holding pattern until the Fed decision next week,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at online trading platform IG.

“It will be a tall order to avoid a post-Fed/BoE/ECB hangover descending on markets just as investors turn their thoughts towards Christmas.”

The FTSE 100 eased 0.02%, with oil stocks among the worst performers as Brent crude prices held under $75 per barrel. [O/R]

Vodafone fell 3.3% after Exane BNP Paribas downgraded the telecom group to “underperform” from “neutral”.

Anglo American rose 1.2% after sources told Reuters the miner is preparing to freeze spending on growth and widen job cuts in South Africa, going far beyond its initial savings target and paving the way to mothballing some higher-cost platinum mines.

While the major central banks are seen holding interest rates next week, traders expect the Fed and the European Central Bank to start cutting interest rates early next year with the Bank of England lagging behind.

Interest rate future markets show investors believe the first cut from the BoE might not happen until June, compared with March for both the ECB and the Fed.

Figures from mortgage lender Halifax showed British house prices rose for a second month in a row in November, adding to signs that the past year’s fall in house prices is bottoming out.

The midcap FTSE 250 index dipped 0.3% after two sessions of strong gains.

Games Workshop Group tumbled 13.7% after the miniature wargame maker issued a weak licensing forecast, while Future dropped 16.1% reporting full-year results.

(Reporting by Shashwat Chauhan and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; editing by Eileen Soreng and Sonia Cheema, Kirsten Donovan)