UK stocks subdued in thin holiday trade

By Khushi Singh and Medha Singh

(Reuters) -London shares ended little changed on Thursday, after mid-cap stocks eased from a 10-month high earlier in the session as an equities rally stalled in thin holiday trade.

The domestically-focused FTSE 250 midcap index was flat after rising in the last two consecutive sessions.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 closed little changed.

The two indexes are on track for their best quarterly performances in four on expectations global central banks, including the Bank of England, will begin cutting interest rates in 2024.

Britain’s benchmark 10-year gilt yield briefly fell to its lowest level since April 6, as traders maintain bets that the Bank of England will trim borrowing costs by May.

“Stock markets have performed well this entire year, but the rally has gone into overdrive lately,” said Marios Hadjikyriacos, senior investment analyst at forex broker XM.

“With valuations already stretched, that is a recipe for turbulence, particularly if earnings growth undershoots as the global economy loses momentum.”

Among sub-indexes, precious metal miners fell the most, down 0.9%, as gold prices moved lower, while retailers stocks shed 0.5%.

Heavyweight oil and gas shares dropped 0.3%, tracking lower crude prices as concerns eased about shipping disruptions along the Red Sea route. [O/R]

Automobile and parts shares rose 0.7% to a six-week high.

Among individual stocks, telecom company BT Group shares fell 2.5%, trading ex dividend.

Refractory products supplier RHI Magnesita jumped 11.2%, rising to the top of the mid-cap index, followed by Fidelity China Special Situations Plc, up 3.9%.

Trading volumes were lower than usual as many market participants were away on holiday in the final week of 2023.

(Reporting by Khushi Singh and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Janane Venkatraman, Shailesh Kuber and Barbara Lewis)