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* Rolls-Royce hits more than three-week low after underlying loss
* U.S. Fed Chair to kick off Jackson Hole Symposium
* Ad firm WPP jumps on resuming dividend
* OneSavings Bank tops mid-cap index after results
* FTSE 100 down 0.3%, FTSE 250 up 0.1% (Adds comments, updates prices)
By Sagarika Jaisinghani
Aug 27 (Reuters) – London’s FTSE 100 retreated on Thursday as earnings updates from firms including Rolls-Royce underlined the extent of the corporate damage from the COVID-19 pandemic ahead of the annual Jackson Hole central bankers’ conference later in the day.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 fell 0.3%, with banks , insurers and energy stocks leading the declines.
Rolls-Royce tumbled 7.3% to a more than three-week low after sinking to a first-half underlying loss before tax of 3.2 billion pounds ($4.2 billion). The wider aero and defence index lost 1.8%.
All eyes are now on U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s address at the virtual Jackson Hole Symposium, where he is expected to outline a more flexible approach to policy, including targeting an average inflation rate of around 2% that will allow rates to stay super-low for longer.
“Something like that could … prove positive for equities, as it would mean extra-loose monetary policy for longer,” said Charalambos Pissouros, market analyst at JFD Group.
Trillions of dollars in stimulus has sent global equity benchmarks back to their pre-pandemic highs, but the UK’s FTSE 100 is still about 21% below that level as the economy struggles to recover from a record crash in the second quarter.
Data on Thursday showed British car production rose sharply in July but is still well below last year’s level, while another set of figures showed firms in the services industry cut jobs rapidly in the three months to August to ride out the pandemic.
A 13.8% surge in OneSavings Bank helped the mid-cap FTSE 250 rise 0.1% as the specialist mortgage lender reported a 2% rise in its underlying net loan book.
Hays Plc, one of the world’s biggest recruitment agencies, rose 1% even as it posted a 12% fall in annual net fees, while advertising company WPP jumped 4% as it resumed its dividend after beating dire forecasts for second-quarter trading. (Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)
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