By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch
U.K. stocks dropped for the eighth time in nine sessions on Friday, setting the FTSE 100 on track for its worst week in two years as it tracked a bloodbath on Wall Street in the prior session.
What are markets doing?
The FTSE 100 index lost 0.8% to 7,112.19, on path for its lowest close since January last year. For the week, the index was looking at a 4.4% plunge, which would be its worst since January 2016.
The pound dropped to $1.3821 from $1.3914 late Thursday in New York.
What is driving the market?
U.K. stocks have slumped this week as part of a wider global market rout, sparked by sharp losses in the U.S. on Monday, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average posted its biggest one-day point drop ever, down 1,175 points. The losses came on mounting fears that faster-than-expected inflation will lead to more Federal Reserve hikes this year than currently expected.
After a short respite in the middle of the week, stocks tumbled again on Thursday in a selloff that saw the Dow lose more than 1,000 points again. That plunge weighed on Asian and European markets on Friday, which all headed for hefty weekly losses. U.S. stock futures pointed to a mixed open on Friday.
Investors in London were also reeling from a more hawkish-than-expected inflation report from the Bank of England out on Thursday. The U.K. central bank upgraded its growth outlook and said it may need to raise interest rates sooner and to a "greater extent" than previously forecast, sending the pound to an intraday high of $1.4066.
The FTSE 100 is highly sensitive to sterling swings as about 75% of revenues are generated overseas.
What are strategists saying?
"The volatility in equity markets is likely to remain at the forefront of attention for a while more, as investors try to gauge whether the correction is over or whether it still has more legs to run. U.S. equity indices closed below their 100-day moving averages yesterday, with the S&P 500 now being roughly 10% lower than its peaks," said Marios Hadjikyriacos, investment analyst at XM, in a note.
"The lower these indices go, the more attractive they become from a valuation perspective for investors looking to 'buy the dip,' a factor that could help to stem the decline," he added.
Which stocks are in focus?
Johnson Matthey PLC (>> Johnson Matthey PLC) lost 3.1% after the chemicals company's rival Umicore SA (>> Umicore SA) raised almost a billion euros to fund further growth.
Direct Line Insurance Group PLC (>> Direct Line Insurance Group PLC) rose 2.6% after the insurer said it expects pretax profit for 2017 to jump on the back of solid results in its motor and commercial businesses and lower-than-expected weather claims.
What's new in economics?
U.K. industrial production declined 1.3% in December , falling more than expected due to an emergency shutdown of a major North Sea pipeline.