FTSE Close: Festive gloom descends on stocks ahead of US inflation data

London stocks drifted lower on Thursday, with the FTSE 100 shedding 21 points to end at 7,695 amid investor nerves ahead of Friday’s pivotal US inflation figures. The data could dictate the Federal Reserve’s next moves on interest rates.

In the FTSE 100, Vodafone climbed 2.2% on a Bloomberg report that Swisscom is weighing a bid for the UK telecom giant’s Italian unit next month. The potential deal would merge Vodafone’s mobile business with Swisscom’s Italian broadband carrier Fastweb. Rival French firm Iliad recently proposed combining Vodafone Italia with its own local unit.

On the FTSE 250, Harbour Energy surged 22% after unveiling an agreement to acquire the upstream oil and gas assets of Germany’s Wintershall Dea for $11.2 billion in cash and stock. Harbour said the “transformational” deal will create one of the world’s largest independent E&P companies.

Finally, video game firm tinyBuild rocketed 60% as French gaming giant Atari agreed to invest $2 million in the company via a share placing. But tinyBuild warned of a gloomier 2023 outlook, with revenue now expected to drop to $40-50 million amid slipping contracts.