London pre-open: Stocks seen muted as investors eye earnings, Fed meeting

by | Jul 25, 2023

(Sharecast News) – London stocks were set for a muted open on Tuesday as investors mull results from the likes of Unilever, Compass Group and Croda and eye the start of the Federal Reserve’s two-day policy meeting.
The FTSE 100 was called to open down around five points.

Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote Bank, said: “The Fed starts its two-day policy meeting in just a couple of hours from now, and will highly likely announce a 25bp hike on Wednesday.

“But what Fed officials will also do is to remind investors that the tightening cycle is probably not over and that there will probably be another rate hike on the US’ horizon. So yes, there is a great chance that the Fed will spoil your mood if you are among those thinking that this week’s rate hike will be the last for this tightening cycle in the US.”

In UK corporate news, consumer goods giant Unilever delivered a 3.3% rise in interim earnings driven by higher prices and said it expected underlying price growth to moderate through the year.

Underlying operating profit came in at €5.2bn as underlying sales grew 9.1% to €30.4bn.

“In a volatile and high-cost environment, we will deliver another year of strong underlying sales growth in 2023,” said chief executive Hein Schumacher.

“We expect underlying sales growth for the full year to be above 5%, ahead of our multi-year range, with underlying price growth continuing to moderate through the year.”

Croda International reported first-half results in line with its revised expectations, with pro forma sales down 6%, driven by reduced inventory levels in consumer, crop, and industrial markets.

While consumer care sales remained flat, life sciences saw an 8% increase excluding prior period Covid-19 lipid sales, and industrial specialties experienced a 20% decline after adjusting for divestment in the prior period. Despite lower profits, the firm maintained its interim dividend and expressed confidence in its future performance.

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