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Provident Financial lifts UK mid-caps, FTSE 100 slips

Credit: REUTERS/PETER NICHOLLS

A surge in Provident Financial's shares boosted the British mid-cap FTSE 250 on Wednesday, while investor attention turned to an annual central bankers' conference later in the week.

By Sagarika Jaisinghani

Aug 26 (Reuters) - A surge in Provident Financial's shares boosted the British mid-cap FTSE 250 on Wednesday, while investor attention turned to an annual central bankers' conference later in the week.

The doorstep lender PFG.L jumped 10.5% to its highest in more than two months even as it posted a first-half loss and suspended its interim dividend. Its shares are still down more than 50% this year.

The domestically-focussed FTSE 250 .FTMC was up 0.3% after sliding in the previous session following an unexpected fall in domestic retail sales.

The export-laden FTSE 100 .FTSE dipped 0.2%, struggling to build on a strong start to the week as signs of a sluggish economic rebound overshadowed optimism around COVID-19 vaccines and U.S.-China trade.

"For all of the resilience of U.S. markets, European stocks have stayed mired below their recent July peaks (and) given the choppiness seen so far this week, we're not expecting to see significant moves one way or the other," said Michael Hewson, a market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

UK equity benchmarks have lagged a recovery in their European and U.S. peers since April and are still down about 20% on the year, compared with a 6.6% rise for the S&P 500 powered by historic stimulus and a rally in technology stocks.

All eyes are now on U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's address at the virtual Jackson Hole Symposium on Thursday, where he is expected to provide an update on the U.S. central bank's future monetary policy approach.

In thin company news, Carnival Corp's CCL.L Princess Cruises said late on Monday it would cancel early 2021 cruises on two ships, citing travel, border and port restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, Carnival's stock was up 1.8%.

Autos .FTNMX3350, real estate .FTUB8600 and retail .FTNMX5370 stocks led early gains.

(Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

((Sagarika.Jaisinghani@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1 646 223 8780; outside U.S. +91 80 6182 2256;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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