FTSE starts off on a lower note, while retail sales rise and consumer confidence sees enhancement.

The FTSE 100 experienced a slight decline on Friday amidst retail sales rallying less than anticipated, an upturn in consumer confidence, and as investors continued to assess the ramifications of Thursday’s rate hold by the Bank of England.

London’s leading index saw a drop of 7.90 points, or 0.1%, settling at 7,670.72, while the FTSE 250 decreased by 57.07 points, or 0.3%, to 18,581.48.

August witnessed a 0.4% increase in retail sales, following a 1.1% decrease in July due to weather conditions. However, this figure fell short of the City’s projected 0.5% growth. Capital Economics remarked that the rebound “isn’t as promising as it appears,” attributing it partially to a sales increase after July’s unusual rainfall.

“Although the steepest drops in real household disposable incomes are in the past, the full impact of higher interest rates is still to come,” the firm stated, forecasting a decline in real consumer spending by 0.5% in the upcoming quarters.

On the brighter side, consumer confidence continued its upward trend despite decreasing inflation. GfK’s long-established Consumer Confidence Index rose by four points in September but remained at a lowly minus 21.

On a day with scarce company updates, Ascential PLC (LSE:ASCL) saw a 1.9% rise to 193.90p, driven by a surge in revenue which narrowed the pre-tax losses for the first half of the year until June 30. Jessica Pok from Peel Hunt noted the strong performance across all divisions.

AstraZeneca experienced a fall in shares by 1.9%, despite announcing encouraging results from an ongoing trial of the drug datopotamab deruxtecan on breast cancer patients. The pharmaceutical giant reported a “statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement” in progression-free survival compared to chemotherapy.

Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LSE:LLOY) witnessed a 0.7% increase in shares as Barclays included the bank, rated overweight, in its preferred European Bank names, replacing HSBC. Barclays commented, “A pause in rate hikes is favourable for the UK and its banks, especially if adverse deposit trends can moderate as anticipated, leading to earnings benefiting from a significant underappreciated hedge tailwind.”

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