FTSE Close: Stocks slide ahead of Fed minutes, HSBC plummets

UK stocks closed lower on Wednesday, with the FTSE 100 ending down 0.7% at 7,662.51, as investors anxiously awaited the release of the latest Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meeting minutes. The FTSE 250 ended up 0.5%, while the AIM All-Share closed down 0.4% at 750.02.

HSBC was the standout decliner in the FTSE 100, plummeting 8.4% despite announcing a 78% surge in 2023 pretax profit to $30.35 billion, from $17.06 billion in 2022. Total revenue also rose 30% to $66.06 billion. However, performance suffered in the fourth quarter due to an impairment charge. HSBC approved a fourth interim dividend of $0.31 per share, bringing the total payout to $0.61, almost double last year’s $0.32. It also launched a new $2 billion share buyback program.

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In the FTSE 250, shares in software firm Bytes Technology tumbled 11% following the sudden resignation of its Chief Executive Neil Murphy, after he disclosed undisclosed share trades to the board.

On AIM, pharmaceutical firm Shield Therapeutics saw its shares sink 51%, despite stellar 2023 outlook expectations. Its success was overshadowed by prescription forecast errors, with 2022 totals markedly below previous projections of 100,000-130,000.

FTSE All-Share Gainers

Saga 6.98%, Cust Prop Inc 6.91%, Halfords 6.72%, Ceres Power 6.47%, Digital 9 5.44%, Regional Reit 4.51%, Currys 4.1%, Octopus Energy 3.85%, Target Healthc. 3.81%, Diversified Energy 3.57%.

FTSE All-Share Fallers

Cab Payments -10.82%, Bytes Tech -10.72%, Petra Diamonds -9.76%, Close Bros -8.39%, HSBC Holdings -8.39%, Gulf Marine Services -6.84%, Superdry -6.84%, Urban Logistics -5.57%, Invesco Sel. Uk -5.53%, Pharos Energy -5.11%.