FTSE Falls Despite Strength In A Trio Of Blue Chip Stalwarts

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The FTSE 100 of the UK saw a slight increase on Thursday as investors shifted their attention from the higher-than-expected U.S. inflation data to the European Central Bank's interest rate decision. The internationally focused FTSE 100 index saw a slight decline of 0.5% post the ECB announcement where the ECB held the bank rate at 4%. ECB President Christine Lagarde did not commit to a specific policy path. The ECB's statement indicated that if inflation and monetary policy transmission increase confidence in returning price growth to target, it would be appropriate to reduce monetary policy restrictions. Investors inferred that this means a rate cut in June is likely. However, President Lagarde's comments during the post-meeting press conference left traders uncertain about the future development of policy after June.

British retailer Kingfisher's stock has risen by 3.97%, making it the top percentage gainer on London's blue-chip index. This increase comes after analysts at HSBC upgraded Kingfisher's stock to a "buy" rating and raised the target price to 305p from 235p. The upgrade is based on expectations that the improving housing market activity will lead to an increase in sales for the company, particularly in the "move-home" sales sector. HSBC also anticipates that e-commerce sales, AI, and data-powered solutions will help reduce capital spending and drive growth for Kingfisher. Additionally, the simplification of the company's operations in France is expected to benefit its medium-term performance. Overall, Kingfisher's shares have risen by 3% in 2023.

AstraZeneca's stock has risen by 1.3% following the announcement of its plan to increase its annual dividend for 2024 by 7%. The company is banking on the strong performance and cash generation from its successful cancer drugs. The dividend will be raised by $0.20 to $3.10 per share, in line with the company's progressive dividend policy. Chair Michel Demaré stated that this increase reflects the ongoing strength of AstraZeneca's investment proposition for shareholders. Despite a nearly 8% decrease in the stock over the last 12 months, the company remains optimistic about its future prospects.

Marks & Spencer's stock has risen by 2.7% after receiving an upgrade from J.P.Morgan, who has changed their rating from "neutral" to "overweight". The brokerage believes that the company is performing well in terms of share gains, has lower expectations, and is undervalued. They also noted that Marks & Spencer has shown the most significant increase in market share compared to its competitors coming out of the pandemic. The brokerage is optimistic about the sustainability of the recent sales uplifts from store renewals. Despite a more than 50% decrease in stock value over the past year, the recent upgrade has sparked positive movement in the company's shares.

FTSE Bias: Bullish Above Bearish below 7900

  • Below 7890 opens 7844
  • Primary support 7844
  • Primary objective 8059
  • 5 Day VWAP bearish
  • 20 Day VWAP bullish

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