FTSE 100 finishes higher, GBP mixed after BoE, Crude Oil tumbles, Bitcoin gains

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imageStock Markets12 hours ago (Mar 18, 2021 16:34)

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Key Points

  • FTSE 100 closing price at 6,778.71 up 0.24%
  • AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN) jab safe and effective, according to European drug regulator
  • No alarms and no surprises from Bank of England
  • GBP/USD lower amid strong US dollar
  • WTI crude oil and Brent both fall on rising inventories, Europe Covid worries
  • Bitcoin strong after Bank of New York Mellon (NYSE:BK) start-up investment

By Samuel Indyk

Investing.com – The FTSE closed higher on Thursday after the Bank of England decided to keep interest rates and their asset purchase facility unchanged, in line with expectations. One of the key takeaways from the statement and minutes was that the Bank does not intend to tighten monetary policy until there is clear evidence that significant progress is being made in eliminating spare capacity and achieving the 2% inflation target sustainably.

“The Bank of England and the US Federal Reserve are singing from the same hymn book, seeing inflation rises as transient rather than a nagging worry here to stay,” said Hargreaves Lansdown (LON:HRGV) Senior Investment and Markets Analyst Susannah Streeter in the wake of the decision.

AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN) shares were also in focus after the European Medicines Agency concluded that the benefits of their jab continue to outweigh the risk of side effects. The EMA also concluded that the vaccine is not associated with an increase in the overall risk of blood clots.

The US dollar index was strong which saw a decline in GBP/USD as the pair moved away from resistance at 1.4000. Comments from Fed Chairman Jerome Powell supported the USD yesterday, helped by rising treasury yields as the United States 10-Year broke above 1.75%. Gilt yields piggybacked on their US counterparts and the United Kingdom 10-Year yield briefly rose above 0.9%.

WTI oil and Brent crude futures both declined as oil had its worst day since November. Yesterday’s inventory data showed another build in US stockpiles and further weighing on the two benchmark grades was an increase in Covid cases in Europe. The vaccination programme in Europe continues to suffer challenges and the Paris region looks as though it could be facing another lockdown as we head towards the holiday season in Europe.

Bitcoin jumped back above $59,000, supported by news that Bank of New York Mellon was investing in cryptocurrency start-up Fireblocks. Shares of BNY Mellon jumped 2.5% in early dealings in New York. The news follows their announcement last month that they were looking to set up a digital asset unit.

FTSE 100 finishes higher, GBP mixed after BoE, Crude Oil tumbles, Bitcoin gains

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