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Wall Street mixed in countdown to Fed's rate call as FTSE finishes higher

A look at how the major markets are performing on Wednesday

FTSE  Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell holds a news conference after the release of U.S. Fed policy decision on interest rates, in Washington, U.S,  May 3, 2023.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
FTSE and Wall Street traders are waiting to hear Fed chair Jerome Powell over interest rates. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

The FTSE 100 and European stocks finished higher this Wednesday after a weak start as figures showed Britain’s economy expanded in April and investors looked ahead to the latest monetary policy decision from the US Federal Reserve.

The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) rose 0.23% to close at 7,602 points, while the CAC 40 (^FCHI) in Paris climbed 0.55% to 7,330 points. In Germany, the DAX (^GDAXI) gained 0.55% to 16,319.


On home shores, gross domestic product grew 0.2% in April, after a fall of 0.3% in March, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. For the three months to April, GDP grew by 0.1%.

Susannah Streeter at Hargreaves Lansdown said: “With consumer spending holding up, particularly in hospitality, and the impact of strikes more minimal, the UK economy has eked out growth in April, but stubborn inflation is still casting a shadow over the slightly sunnier outlook.”

But she cautioned the “situation is fragile, with growth of just 0.1% over the three months to April.”

Shell (SHEL.L) rose 0.52% after it announced plans to boost its dividend and trim future spending as part of new chief executive Wael Sawan’s efforts to “simplify” the energy major’s business and increase investor confidence.

The oil major said it would up its dividend by 15% this year and on top of that return at least $5bn (£4bn) to shareholders by buying back their shares.

Shell also said that it would reduce capital spending by between $22bn and $25bn (£17bn to £20bn) in 2024 and 2025. It will slash its annual operating cost by between $2bn and $3bn by the end of 2025.

Fossil fuel giant also announced plans to keep its oil production steady until the end of the decade, scrapping a plan to reduce output by between 1% and 2% a year.

Games Workshop (GAW.L) said it expected to post increased annual profit of at least £170m, up from £157m a year ago, driven by a strong rise in revenue and licensing income.

In a year-end trading update, the maker of Warhammer said core revenue for the 52 weeks to May would be not less than £440m, up from £387m.

US and Asia

US stocks were mixed after another inflation read bolstered market expectations for policymakers to keep their monetary policy decisions steady, for now.

The Dow Jones (^DJI) lost 0.25% to 34,125 points. The S&P 500 (^GSPC) rose 0.43% to 4,387 points and the tech-heavy NASDAQ (^IXIC) advanced 0.56% to 13,649.

Most of the day's market action is expected to come after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell begins his press conference later and you can follow it here.

After 10 consecutive hikes over more than a year, the Federal Reserve's policy committee is all but certain to skip another increase at today's meeting.Chairman Jerome Powell speaks at 2:30 pm US Eastern time (18h30 in London).

In Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 (^N225) gained 1.47% to 33,502 points, while the Hang Seng (^HSI) in Hong Kong lost 0.52% to 19,420. The Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) was flat at 3,233 points.

Shares of Toyota (7203.T) rose to mark the highest in 16 months after the company’s shareholders voted to retain Akio Toyoda as its chairman in a broad endorsement of its strategy.


The pound’s (GBPUSD=X) gained ground against the dollar, with sterling trading at $1.2646. The sterling (GBPEUR=X) also rose against the euro, trading at €1.1702.

Oil markets

Meanwhile, Brent crude (BZ=F) slipped and was trading at around $74/barrel as investors awaited the outcome of the US Federal Reserve's June meeting, key economic data from China and government data on US crude stockpiles.

“The disinflation process remains intact and that could mean the dollar’s days are numbered, which would provide some support for oil prices,” Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at Oanda, said.

Watch: Fed decision: Central bank expected to pause rate hikes

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