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FTSE 100 edges higher; Smiths Group lifts full-year revenue guidance

Published 05/19/2023, 04:24 AM
© Reuters.
- - U.K. stock markets largely edged higher Friday, helped by a wave of optimism that a U.S. debt default can be avoided as well as British consumers showing increased confidence.

At 04:00 ET (08:00 GMT), the benchmark FTSE 100 index traded 0.3% higher, the mid-cap FTSE 250 traded largely flat and the combined FTSE 350 rose 0.2%.

U.K. equities have followed the global trend higher as both U.S. President Joe Biden and top congressional Republican Kevin McCarthy expressed confidence that a deal could shortly be reached to lift the U.S. debt ceiling, removing the potential for a default on the country’s debt obligations, which would have had severe repercussions globally.

Adding to the positive tone were the results of the latest survey from market research firm GfK, which indicated that British consumer confidence has risen for the fourth month in a row to its highest since February 2022.

The headline confidence index rose to -27 in May from -30 in April, moving further away from the -49 record low last September when former prime minister Liz Truss's "mini-budget" resulted in chaos in financial markets.

The corporate earnings slate was relatively quiet Friday, but Smiths Group (OTC:SMGZY) (LON:SMIN) impressed after the engineering firm raised guidance for organic revenue growth to 10% for the financial year after a strong third quarter.

“Q3 was another strong quarter for Smiths, building on the record performance we achieved in the first half,” said CEO Paul Keel. “We’ve now delivered eight consecutive quarters of growth, enabled by our strategy of accelerating growth, improving execution, and investing in our people.”

Elsewhere, the U.K. government announced plans to support its semiconductor industry, seeking to boost its domestic chipmaking capabilities in the wake of disruptions to global supplies over the last year or so.

The government said it will initially invest up to £200 million from 2023 to 2025 before expanding its commitment to up to £1 billion in the next decade (£1 = $1.2406).

“Semiconductors underpin the devices we use every day and will be crucial to advancing the technologies of tomorrow,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement.  

Sunak is attending the latest Group of Seven summit in Japan's Hiroshima, a gathering at which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to attend in person to ask for new sanctions against Russia in an attempt to force Moscow into ending the Ukraine war.

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