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UK’s FTSE 100 gained today after hot inflation numbers put focus on finance minister Rishi Sunak’s budget update later in the day, with investors looking for signs of support to ease the worst cost-of-living squeeze in decades. — Reuters pic
UK’s FTSE 100 gained today after hot inflation numbers put focus on finance minister Rishi Sunak’s budget update later in the day, with investors looking for signs of support to ease the worst cost-of-living squeeze in decades. — Reuters pic

LONDON, March 23 — UK’s FTSE 100 gained today after hot inflation numbers put focus on finance minister Rishi Sunak’s budget update later in the day, with investors looking for signs of support to ease the worst cost-of-living squeeze in decades.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 rose 0.5 per cent, its sixth consecutive day of gains in what could be the longest winning streak since December 2020.

Oil majors BP and Shell provided the biggest boost to the FTSE, up over 3 per cent, as crude prices rose on increasing concerns of global supply tightness from sanctions imposed on Russia.

Data showed British inflation shot up faster than expected in February to hit a new 30-year high of 6.2 per cent, while the median forecast in a Reuters poll of economists had pointed to a reading of 5.9 per cent.

“While inflation came in ahead of expectations, markets have recognised that inflation is on the up at least for the next few months,” said Dan Boardman-Weston, chief investment officer at BRI Wealth Management.

The Bank of England last week raised interest rates for a third time in a row to combat surging inflation, but raised doubts about further hikes as the Ukraine crisis increases the risk of an economic downturn. Read full story

Sunak is due to give a budget update at around 1230 GMT.

“I think what we will see today is some measures, maybe a cut in fuel duty, some tinkering around with the tax rates at the lower end, but I don’t think it will be anything too meaningful. He may want to keep some powder dry in case this crisis gets worse,” added Boardman-Weston.

Consumer good giant Reckitt Benckiser Group RKT.L fell 3.6 per cent after Jefferies downgraded to “underperform.”

The midcap index edged up 0.1 per cent, with UK-listed shares of US cruise operator Carnival Corp gaining 1.0 per cent despite forecasting a loss for the year. — Reuters

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