By Sruthi Shankar and Devik Jain
(Reuters) – UK midcap stocks logged their worst weekly performance since early July on Friday as a bunch of grim data this week including consumer sentiment hitting a record low in August stoked fears about a recession in the world’s fifth-largest economy.
The FTSE 250 index, more exposed to the domestic economy, slid 1.2% and logged weekly losses of 2.2%. Airlines, industrials and retailers were among the worst performing stocks in the index.
The exporter-heavy FTSE 100 inched up 0.1%, aided by sterling’s tumble to a five-week low. [GBP/]
British consumer sentiment in August fell to its lowest since at least 1974, a survey showed, as households feel “a sense of exasperation” about soaring costs.
Other data showed British shoppers spent more than expected in July as many were enticed by online shopping promotions. However, real-time figures on spending using debit and credit cards have shown a big drop in early August.
The numbers offered no respite for retail stocks, with the sector down 2.5% and the longer-term trend looking dismal.
“The consumer backdrop feels increasingly gloomy and that’s bad news because consumer spending is such an important contributor to the UK economy,” AJ Bell financial analyst Danni Hewson said.
“The Bank of England faces the unenviable task of trying to get inflation down without inflicting too much pain on businesses and households and the seeming impossibility of this task is raising the spectre of prolonged stagflation – a slowing economy and surging prices.”
The British central bank has already raised interest rates six times since December and traders are betting policymakers will hike by 50 bps next month to tame inflation which climbed above 10% last month.
Global stock markets have faltered this week after a strong rally from June lows, as central bank policymakers backed aggressive interest rate hikes to tame soaring inflation despite signs of slowing economic growth.
(Graphic: CPI across G7 countries, https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/lbpgnadoyvq/G7.JPG)
Joules Group slumped 39.2% after the fashion retailer warned of an annual loss.
Shares of Cineworld crashed 58.3% to a record low after a report the world’s second largest cinema chain operator is preparing to file for bankruptcy.
(Reporting by Johann M Cherian, Sruthi Shankar and Devik Jain in Bengaluru: Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Dhanya Ann Thoppil, Kirsten Donovan)