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FTSE 100 ekes out gains after Fed comments, Provident surges

FTSE 100 ekes out gains after Fed comments, Provident surges
FILE PHOTO: Traders looks at financial information on computer screens on the IG Index trading floor in London, Britain February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson -
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(Reuters) – London’s main index inched higher on Wednesday as comments from the U.S. central bank hinting at a possible cut in interest rates soothed investor nerves, while mid-cap sub-prime lender Provident rose after rival NSF dropped its hostile bid.

The FTSE 100 rose 0.1%. It ended higher on both Monday and Tuesday after volatile sessions that saw losses of as much as 1%. The mid-cap FTSE 250 had added 0.1% by 0705 GMT.

Following up on comments by St Louis colleague James Bullard, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said on Tuesday the bank would react “as appropriate” to the fallout from an intensifying Sino-U.S. trade dispute.

U.S. and Asian stock markets both gained in response, interpreting the comments as an indication that the prospect of a rate cut was rising and a shift from the more patient stance the Fed has taken in recent months.

Subprime lender Provident Financial led gainers on the FTSE 250 with a 7% rise as it succeeded in fending off a hostile 1.3 billion pound bid from smaller rival Non-Standard Finance.

Shares of greeting card retailer Card Factory climbed 3.3% after it posted higher first-quarter sales and guided to marginally positive like-for-like sales for the year.

(Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham)

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