FTSE Close: Shares rise as recession stokes rate cut hopes

London stocks closed higher on Thursday, buoyed by hopes that the Bank of England could ease monetary policy after data showed the UK economy slipped into a technical recession in the fourth quarter.

The FTSE 100 gained 0.4% to finish at 7,597.53. The FTSE 250 climbed 0.5% to 19,099.62, and the AIM All-Share added 0.3% to close at 752.98.

UK gross domestic product declined 0.3% quarter-on-quarter in the three months to December, a sharper contraction than the 0.1% expected. The economy had shrunk 0.1% in the third quarter as well.

The weak data stoked optimism over BoE rate cuts. However, oil giants BP and Shell fell 1.6% and 1.3% respectively amid falling crude prices. Tobacco company Imperial Brands dropped 3.4% as its shares went ex-dividend.

In the FTSE 250, Close Brothers crashed 23% following a warning of potential financial impact from an FCA investigation into historical car loan arrangements. The bank also suspended its dividend.

Animal genetics firm Genus plunged 16% after projecting lower revenue and adjusted pretax profit for the first half of fiscal 2023 amid challenging Chinese porcine markets.

Among small-caps, North Sea producer EnQuest jumped 8.1% after highlighting its deleveraged balance sheet and strong 2023 output. CEO Amjad Bseisu said EnQuest now aims to pivot towards future growth in 2024.

FTSE All-Share Gainers

Petra Diamonds 9.5%, Enquest 8.07%, Hostelworld 7.88%, Schroders Cap 7.66%, Trifast 6.63%, Bloomsbury 6.18%, Regional Reit 5.96%, Motorpoint 5.59%, SIG 5.32%, Ithaca Energy 5.26%.

FTSE All-Share Fallers

Close Bros -22.51%, Genus -16.2%, NextEnergy Solar -4.42%, Smiths News -4.23%, Cab Payments -3.35%, Ultimate Prod -3.34%, Imperial Brands -3.25%, Aberforth Spli. -2.88%, Capricorn Energy PLC -2.73%, Octopus Energy -2.68%.