London stock market lower awaiting Fed decision

London (AFP) –


London's stock market eased on Wednesday awaiting the Wall Street open and an interest-rate update from the US Federal Reserve, with much of the world's indices shut for May Day.

About 1015 GMT, London's benchmark FTSE 100 index dipped 0.1 percent compared with the close on Tuesday.

The dollar fell against its main rivals.

In London, data on Wednesday showed Britain's manufacturing sector slowed last month on Brexit uncertainty.

The Markit/CIPS UK manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) for April came in at 53.1, down from 55.1 in March.

A figure above 50 indicates growth.

"With most of continental Europe and Asia closed for the May 1 bank holiday, trading ranges have been tightly contained with thin liquidity as we wait for the main event for today -- the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) monetary policy announcement," noted Dean Popplewell, analyst at Oanda trading group.

"US equity futures and UK stocks have advanced this morning following Apple's upbeat forecast after Tuesday's market close," he added.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is expected to announce on Wednesday that the US central bank will keep its main interest rate at 2.25-2.5 percent.

But as the Fed on Tuesday kicked off its third meet of the year, US President Donald Trump again slammed it for prior interest rate hikes and reiterated his call for a cut.

He did so despite US economic data published Tuesday revealing a surprising jump in consumer confidence in April.

New York's S&P 500 stocks index edged to a third straight record-high on Tuesday, while the Nasdaq finished lower on poorly-received earnings from Google-parent Alphabet.

Apple meanwhile delivered stronger-than-expected results for the past quarter as gains in services helped offset slumping iPhone sales, sparking a rally in shares of the technology giant.

California-based Apple reported a 16 percent drop in profits in the just-ended quarter to $11.6 billion (10.3 billion euros), as overall revenues dipped five percent to $58 billion.

Apple shares rallied five percent in after-hours trade, with the results showing strong results from its new products and services in the fiscal second quarter to March 30.

- Key figures around 1015 GMT -

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.1 percent at 7,411.66 points

New York - Dow: UP 0.1 percent at 26,554.39 (close)

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3067 from $1.3032 at 2100 GMT Tuesday

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.98 from 86.06 pence

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1236 from $1.1215

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 111.30 from 111.42

Oil - Brent Crude: DOWN six cents at $72 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 52 cents at $63.39