|22 August, 2019

FTSE 100 falls after Fed minutes, deal talks lift NMC Health

The FTSE 100 fell 0.4%, with shares of online grocer Ocado sliding after a fire at one of its customer fulfilment centres

Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., June 5, 2019.

Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., June 5, 2019.

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

London's FTSE 100 fell on Thursday as minutes of the latest U.S. Federal Reserve meeting dampened hopes of a hefty cut in interest rates in September, though NMC Health soared on a report that two firms had offered to buy a stake in the company.

The FTSE 100 fell 0.4%, with shares of online grocer Ocado sliding after a fire at one of its customer fulfilment centres. The FTSE 250  also shed 0.2% by 0754 GMT.

Ocado lost 2% after it reported that a small fire on Wednesday at its customer fulfilment centre in Erith was extinguished overnight. A similar incident in February at its robotic distribution centre in Andover, southern England, had led to a sharp fall in shares.

UAE-based healthcare provider NMC Health surged more than 30% and was tracking its best day ever after sources told Reuters on Wednesday that two groups, including one backed by China's Fosun, were competing to buy a 40% stake in the company worth up to $1.9 billion.

The company also posted half-year results and announced plans to buy back up to $200 mln worth of shares.

Still, losses on the main index were spread across sectors.

Exporter stocks dropped due to a modest recovery in the pound, while heavyweight financial stocks tracked losses in Asian markets after Fed minutes overnight showed policymakers were deeply divided on an interest rate cut.

"Judging by the reaction in bond markets, and the shorter end in particular, the prospect of a 50 basis point cut next month is much less of a probability, than it was 24 hours ago," CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said.

Uncertainty over the Fed's stance comes ahead of an address by Chairman Jerome Powell on Friday, which investors will look at for any further signs of policy easing and fiscal stimulus.

The mid-caps were dragged lower by an 8% drop in infrastructure projects operator John Laing Group after its half-year results.

Ukraine-focused iron ore pellet producer Ferrexpo lost 4.5% after brokerage Liberum cut its rating and almost halved its price target on the stock, while shopping centre operator Intu slid 5% after Stifel slashed its price target.

(Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; editing by Arun Koyyur) ((Shashwat.Awasthi@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S.+1 646 223 3403; outside U.S. +91 80 6749 3403;))

More From Equities