FTSE 100 Live: Interest Rates Jump Up, Pound Retests $1.13 Level

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FTSE 100 restores lost ground, Halma higher

FTSE 100-listed Halma was in demand today as investors looked for defensive stocks in a session dominated by economic concerns.

The tech company’s appeal for safety products stems from 19 consecutive years of record profits and 43 consecutive years of dividend growth of more than 5%.

Halma’s defensive qualities caused valuation to soar during the pandemic, but in 2022 there was a drop of about a third as some of the foam comes from the stock.

However, there was an improvement from 11p to 2119p today, after Halma announced first half trading in line with expectations amid continued strong order intake growth at its portfolio companies.

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The conglomerate, which employs 7,000 people and has been named one of Britain’s most admired companies for the past three years, added that the weaker pound would also positively impact its results.

Acquisition activity was much calmer than the 13 companies bought during a “very active” 2021/22, but Halma described the deal pipeline as promising for all three sectors that include safety, environment and healthcare.

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Halma was joined on the FTSE 100 risers board by defensive stocks with the brand strength and pricing power to offset inflationary pressures.

Among them were the drinks firm Diageo of Guinness and Smirnoff, which rose 18.5 pence to 3819.5 pence, and Unilever after rising 20.5 pence to 4073 pence. Imperial Brands rose 17p to 1917p.

Vodafone added another 0.7p to 109.4p, after raising 2% yesterday as investors processed the revelation that French telecom mogul Xavier Niel has bought a 2.5% stake worth around £750m.

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The broader London market opened more than 1% lower after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 0.75% for the third time in a row and scaled back growth forecasts.

Despite the bleak outlook, mining stocks later helped the FTSE 100 fall just 7.57 points lower at 7230.07. The FTSE 250 index better reflected ongoing economic uncertainty after falling 166.85 points to 18,546.17.

Major decliners included Aston Martin Lagonda, which fell 8.6 pence to 156.6 pence, and low-cost airline easyjet, which fell from 10.6 pence to 330.3 pence.

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