The FTSE Today: Stocks gain momentum ahead of central bank decisions

The FTSE 100 index began the week on a positive note, closing 0.5% higher, bolstered by investor optimism ahead of key central bank meetings. The FTSE 250 also showed strength, ending 0.9% higher, while the AIM All-Share closed up 0.6%.

The week’s focus lies on central bank decisions. The Bank of Japan will set the tone on Tuesday, followed by the US Federal Reserve on Wednesday and the Bank of England on Thursday. Analysts anticipate the BoJ maintaining its ultra-loose policy, although there’s speculation regarding potential adjustments to the yield curve control policy.

In the FTSE 100, HSBC faced a 3.0% drop as it missed profit expectations, despite a $3 billion buyback. The bank’s third-quarter pretax profit of $7.71 billion fell short of estimates, impacting its shares. NatWest faced a similar fate, with a 1.9% decline, following lowered capital return expectations and earnings downgrades.

Pearson, however, provided a ray of hope, with shares rising by 2.9%. The education publisher raised its operating profit guidance after reporting a 2% YoY rise in third-quarter revenue, signalling a positive trajectory for investors. Airtel Africa also saw gains, rising by 4.9% after reporting higher operational profit and increased revenue, despite the Nigerian naira’s devaluation.

In the FTSE 250, Ascential shares soared 35% early morning and settled at 24% at the close. The move was driven by a proposed sale of its Digital Commerce and WGSN units for £1.2 billion. Asos, on the other hand, faced uncertainty as reports surfaced about its exploration of selling the Topshop brand. Analysts raised concerns about the potential impact on Asos’s long-term viability, given Topshop’s historical significance as a growth driver.

On AIM, Neometals faced a setback, losing 13% after deciding not to proceed with a Finnish vanadium recovery project due to cash concerns amidst global financial market conditions.