THURSDAY MARKET CLOSE: Super Thursday less than super
A Super Thursday raft of announcements from the Bank of England failed to inspire blue-chip shares though a dovish tone on the timing of an interest rate hike sent the pound lower against major currencies.
The Bank for the first time published its monthly rates decision together with the minutes of the monetary policy committee (MPC) meeting that led to it, as well as its quarterly inflation report giving the latest outlook on the economy.
One member of the nine-strong committee voted for an immediate hike in the first split vote of 2015 but it failed to impact on investors – as a wider dissent had been expected. The FTSE 100 Index closed 5.32 points lower at 6,747.09.
But there was a bigger impact on currency markets as the Bank forecast near-zero inflation lasting for the rest of the year and endorsed forecasts that a rates rise would not happen until next spring.
Alastair McCaig, market analyst at IG, said: “Judging by the way the MPC voted, the British mortgage-paying public can rest easy for the time being, as there weren’t many itchy trigger fingers there.”
Takeover target RSA Insurance came under pressure as suitor Zurich Insurance said it was determined not to overpay for the More Than owner.
Half-year figures showing an 84 per cent jump in RSA’s operating profits failed to boost the stock as a report suggested Zurich is working on a bid of around £5.4 billion, below hopes of £5.6bn. Shares fell nearly 3 per cent, or 14p, to 510p.
Elsewhere in the insurance sector, strong half-year earnings from rival Aviva helped shares lift 4.5p to 532p.
Satellite communications company Inmarsat was the biggest top-flight riser with a gain of nearly 7 per cent or 60p to 956.5p. Investors were cheered after it raised its dividend despite posting a fall in pre-tax profit for its first half.