Sainsburys leads London markets quietly higher


With European markets closed for the May Day holiday, the FTSE 100 in London was higher though trading volume was light.

How did markets perform?

The U.K.’s FTSE 100

UKX, +0.03%

 rose 0.2% to 7,431.2, making up part of Tuesday’s 0.3% loss.

The pound

GBPUSD, +0.2915%

 climbed another 0.3% to $1.3069 after rising 0.9% Tuesday.

What’s moving the markets?

All eyes in Europe are looking to the West, toward the S&P 500 making new intraday records Tuesday, as well as the U.S. Federal Reserve interest rate announcement later today. Fed chair Jerome Powell isn’t expected to announce changes to rates, but investors will be analyzing his statement and comments in light of recent discussion around whether the interest rate targeting regime is properly calibrated.

Brexit discussions among Conservative and Labour Party leaders may be nearing an unexpected resolution. The Telegraph reported that the U.K. government is close to agreeing to Labour’s demand to pursue a customs union with the European Union, which could potentially anger euroskeptics across the Conservative Party.

Which stocks are active?

Supermarket chain J Sainsbury PLC

SBRY, +4.04%

 reported preliminary full year results that weren’t as bad as expected, with underlying profit before tax of £635 million, ahead of forecasts of £624.3 million. Shares were up 5.2%. Neil Wilson, chief market analyst for, said management remained under pressure, particularly in the wake of the failed merger with ASDA: “There is a need for a big overhaul in the core grocery division. Management has taken its eyes off the ball.”

Wilson added that “Questions will remain over the leadership – will [CEO] Mike Coupe fall on his sword after the ASDA deal failed? Or will he embark on a major turnaround of the business? I would feel the former is more likely.”

Financial stocks were broadly higher following Lloyds Banking Group PLC’s

LLOY, +1.28%

 announcement that the Bank of England had set a lower requirement for how much capital the lender needed to set aside in case of emergency. Lloyds’ shares climbed 1.6%, while Barclays PLC

BARC, +1.24%

 was up 1.5% and Standard Chartered PLC

STAN, +1.00%

 rose 0.5%.

Major oil companies sank on lower prices for the commodity, with Royal Dutch Shell PLC class A

RDS.A, +0.63%

 shares down 0.9%, BHP Group PLC

BHP, -0.73%

 down 0.3% and BP PLC

BP, +1.65%

 also down 0.2%.

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