TUESDAY MARKET CLOSE: Markets steady ahead of Fed meeting

A slight fall in oil prices on hopes that the Iraq conflict will not impact Middle East supplies helped steady nerves on today’s markets.
Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen. Picture: APFederal Reserve chair Janet Yellen. Picture: AP
Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen. Picture: AP

However, investors were still cautious ahead of tomorrow’s meeting of the US Federal Reserve when policymakers are likely to announce a further scaling back of quantitative easing.

The FTSE 100 index pulled out of its recent slump, adding 12.1 points to close at 6766.8.

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The latest bumper set of sales figures from Premier Inn and Costa Coffee owner Whitbread cheered investors in the blue-chip stock.

Shares have risen by more than 40 per cent in the past year and put on another 2 per cent after its latest trading update.

Airlines also recovered some of their poise, having recently been battered by a recent rise in oil prices on the back of the Iraq crisis.

British Airways owner International Airlines Group edged up 2.9p to 381.1p while low-cost carrier easyJet climbed 11p to 1446p, but travel operator Thomas Cook dropped 3.6p to 137.9p.

EasyJet’s former boss Andy Harrison is now at the helm of Whitbread, where sales have continued to impress after better-than-expected like-for-like growth of 6.9 per cent in the first quarter of the financial year.

With no signs of a slowdown in growth at Premier Inn or Costa, the latest update prompted Investec Securities to remove its sell rating on the stock. Whitbread shares were 91p higher at 4,259p.

Elsewhere in the top flight, shares in Shire rose by more than 3 per cent after reports that the pharmaceuticals company had hired additional advisers to handle potential takeover approaches. The stock was 124p higher at 3660p.