FTSE 100 begins cenbank-heavy week on subdued note

By Shashwat Chauhan

(Reuters) -The UK’s FTSE 100 closed lower on Monday, with lower metal prices dragging down miners as investors await a slew of central bank meetings and economic data this week for clues on the path of monetary policy.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 slipped 0.1%, while the domestically focussed FTSE 250 mid-cap index added 0.3%.

Precious and industrial metal miners each fell more than 2% as gold prices eased on the back of a firmer dollar, while iron ore prices lost ground on disappointing China consumer price data. [MET/L] [IRONORE/]

All eyes are now on major central banks, with the Bank of England (BoE), Federal Reserve and European Central Bank (ECB) scheduled to announce their monetary policy decisions during the week.

“Every other nation talks about the importance of bringing inflation down but (in the UK) we have a cost-of-living crisis, which we blame on all sorts of external factors,” said Frederique Carrier, head of investment strategy in the British Isles at RBC Wealth Management.

“While (in our view) the BoE is done now, the prospect of rate cuts is a lot more remote (in Britain) than it might be elsewhere.”

The three major central banks are seen keeping rates unchanged at their respective meetings this week. Traders expect the BoE to cut rates at a slower pace next year than the Fed and ECB.

Among economic data, UK employment, inflation prints across the euro zone, and November U.S. consumer prices will be on investors’ radar.

The FTSE 100 has underperformed its global peers so far this year, with the index only up around 1% compared to a nearly 20% jump in the S&P 500 and a more than 10% rise in the pan-European STOXX 600.

Among individual stocks, Rolls-Royce gained 2.6% after Citigroup raised its price target on the engineering company’s stock.

British American Tobacco slipped 1.0% as Jefferies reduced its price target on the stock.

(Reporting by Shashwat Chauhan and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Varun H K, Sonia Cheema and Richard Chang)