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FTSE 100 at the close: Admiral Group and NatWest

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By Patrick Munnelly, Market Strategist, Tickmill

On Wednesday, the UK’s FTSE 100 index demonstrated minimal movement and remained close to its lowest point in a month.

This lack of significant change followed the release of data indicating that inflation had decelerated in line with expectations during July. The positive performance of insurance companies’ earnings helped to counterbalance the declines observed in the stocks of precious metal miners.

The FTSE 100 index, which is composed of companies with a substantial portion of their earnings generated from exports, showed a decrease of 0.44% at end of the session. This outcome reflected the delicate equilibrium between various factors influencing the market, including inflation data and corporate earnings trends.

FTSE 100 biggest movers

Admiral Group [LON:ADM], a UK-based insurer, experienced a notable increase in its stock value, with shares rising by 7.2% by the close. This surge made it the leading gainer on the FTSE 100 index.

In its H1 financial report, Admiral recorded a slight uptick in pre-tax profit, which was primarily driven by strategic price increases. Despite a decrease in the interim dividend to 51 pence from the previous year’s 60 pence, the company’s dividend still stands about 2% higher than what Jefferies’ estimates had predicted. The CEO expressed confidence in the company’s favourable prospects, stating that they are well-positioned for a more positive future. Admiral has been judicious in managing its reserves, resulting in a significant surplus. This surplus is expected to contribute to increased profitability over the upcoming years.

The positive momentum extended beyond Admiral, as shares of other UK-based insurers also saw gains. Direct Line [LON:DLG] rose by 6%, while Aviva [LON:AV.] increased by 0.9%. Considering the gains made during this session, Admiral’s shares have climbed by a noteworthy 11.2% year-to-date.

On the negative side of the ledger, NatWest [LON:NWG] sits bottom of the blue chip index shedding 3.1% after announcing it has taken steps to provide compensation to a previous client following revelations from a whistleblower that his personal data had been compromised over a span of 14 years. The whistleblower’s information alerted the former customer to the unsettling reality that his confidential details, along with those of approximately 1,600 other individuals, had been inadequately safeguarded and stored within the residence of a former bank employee for nearly fifteen years. The former client expressed his gratitude toward the whistleblower for shedding light on this situation. The information brought forth by the whistleblower has not only prompted corrective actions but has also drawn attention to the precarious handling of sensitive data, affecting a substantial number of individuals over an extended period of time.

Consumer price inflation declines

On the fundamental front, in July, the annual consumer price inflation underwent a moderation, declining to 6.8% from the previous month’s figure of 7.9%. This aligns with the projections of the Bank of England (BoE) as well as the consensus gathered from economists in a Reuters poll. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that core inflation, a measure that excludes volatile items, emerged higher than anticipated at 6.9% for July. Additionally, inflation within the services sector experienced a rise, reaching 7.4%, as compared to the 7.2% recorded in June. These nuances highlight the complex dynamics within the inflation landscape, where certain segments continue to exert upward pressure even as overall inflation shows signs of moderation.

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This article does not constitute investment advice. Make sure you do your own research or consult a professional advisor.

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