Thursday market close: Stocks negative ahead of Fed

Nervous times ahead of US Fed decision. Picture: AP/Richard Drew
Nervous times ahead of US Fed decision. Picture: AP/Richard Drew
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Caution was the name of the game as traders waited to see whether the US Federal Reserve would raise interest rates for the first time in almost a decade.

Following a surge of almost 92 points in Wednesday’s session, the top-flight FTSE 100 Index ended the day 42.22 points lower at 6186.99.

CMC Markets analyst Jasper Lawler said: “Traders took some gains from the past two days off the table ahead of potentially volatile price movements surrounding the decision by the Federal Reserve whether to raise US interest rates.

“Opinions are split on most aspects of the Fed meeting; whether there will be a hike, what the language will be and how economic forecasts will change. Four-year highs on two-year US treasury yields suggest a hike but Fed funds futures suggest there’s a 30 per cent chance.”

Engineering group Smiths suffered the biggest fall among the blue chips, down 4.2 per cent or 47p at 1,082p, after FTSE 250 firm Rotork warned of a challenging sector half, with an increased number of project deferrals and cancellations and a “particularly weak” August. Its shares slumped 23.4p, or 10.8 per cent, to close at 192.6p.

Construction group Kier, which employs 186 people across Scotland, fell 68p or 4.6 per cent to 1,408p despite analysts at Investec hailing its “encouraging” results, which showed like-for-like revenues up 14 per cent to £3.4 billion in the first half and underlying pre-tax profits up 17 per cent to £85.9 million. Recent projects north of the Border include the latest phase of Robert Gordon University’s Garthdee site in Aberdeen and a community centre and primary school campus at Caol, Fort William.

An oil discovery off Norway did not prevent Aberdeen-based explorer Faroe Petroleum dipping 1p to 70.5p.