FTSE 100 slides with prices set to fall to 20-year low

The FTSE 100 is expected to slide from month-highs today as inflation hits a 20-year low.

The blue chip index ended yesterday at 6,105.54, up 79.29 points or 1.32% on the day, hitting levels not seen since august 24.

But the rally was expected to be short-lived, with Bloomberg data forecasting the index will open 42 points lower at 6078.5.

The key market mover this morning is expected to be inflation figures. A hike in fuel and clothing costs sent Consumer Price Index inflation up sharply, to 1% in July and core prices hit 1.8%. For August CPI is likely to show a sharp decline to 0.1%, with core prices falling to 0.5% from 1.8%. This would be the lowest level for core prices since 2000.

CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said of the July figure: “The easing of lockdown restrictions also had something to with the sharp rise in prices, as businesses attempted to recoup lost income as a result of the shutdown.

“We already have anecdotal evidence that hair salons hiked prices to offset the loss of income as a result of lockdowns, so this is likely to have played a part in the sharp rise in prices. This is likely to be a temporary phenomenon, given concerns about rising unemployment which are expected to see households curtail their spending.”

Hewson added that signs the unemployment rate is rising and the end of furlough is likely to spark further deflation. Supermarket group Morrisons last week kicked off a price war – cutting the cost of 400 everyday items – which is expected to run up to a fiercely competitive Christmas. However, boss David Potts warned that, if post-Brexit trade deal talks didn’t deliver a smooth result for importers, prices would likely rise.

Away from the inflation data, investors will also be keep an eye on the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate meeting. No changing in policy is expected from Fed chair Jerome Powell but any comments on the state of the American economy likely to move markets.

In UK corporate trading, the housing market will again be in focus. Housebuilding and estate agent’s stocks have bounced back a little since the lows seen at the start of the Covid lockdown in March, aided in part by a temporary cut in stamp duty.

Today builder Redrow will post results. The company’s executive chairman John Tutte delayed his departure in April until November, with chief operating officer Matthew Pratt stepping up to run the group at the start of July.

Meanwhile outdoor advertising specialist Ocean Outdoor will update the market, after a difficult few months where billboards sat with no onlookers in empty streets during lockdown.