FTSE opens higher as Amazon UK workers strike

FTSE 100 traders are keeping a close eye on the first Amazon strike on UK soil. Photo: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

The FTSE 100 and European stocks were mostly higher on Wednesday as a fall in producer price inflation figures in December encouraged investors despite the first Amazon (AMZN) strike on UK soil.

The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) rose 0.16% to 7,769 points at the open, while the CAC 40 (^FCHI) in Paris jumped 0.29% to 7,070 points. In Germany, the DAX (^GDAXI) was flat at 15,106.

Amazon workers at a warehouse in Coventry were striking over pay on Wednesday, the first time the e-commerce giant has faced industrial action in the UK.

The GMB union is calling on Amazon to pay its UK workers £15 an hour to bring their wages in line with their American counterparts, who earn $18 an hour.

Staff are unhappy with a pay increase of 50p pence per hour to £10.50, equivalent to a 5% rise and well below inflation. Amazon introduced the pay hike last summer. But warehouse workers say it fails to match the rising cost of living.

Stuart Richards, GMB senior organiser, said: “Today, Amazon workers in Coventry will make history.

Read more: Amazon to shut three UK warehouses putting 1,200 jobs at risk

“They’ve defied the odds to become the first ever Amazon workers in the UK to go on strike.

“They’re taking on one of the world’s biggest companies to fight for a decent standard of living.

“They should be rightly proud of themselves.

“After six months of ignoring all requests to listen to workers’ concerns, GMB urges Amazon UK bosses to do the right thing and give workers a proper pay rise.”

An Amazon spokesperson said: “A tiny proportion of our workforce are involved.”

Victoria Scholar, head of investment at Interactive Investor, said: “Amazon employees are adding to the slew of worker walkouts across the UK in many industries as inflation eats away at take-home pay.

“In August, Amazon offered workers a measly 50p per hour pay increase. The two sides are in a stalemate with workers struggling with the cost of living crisis which is reaching boiling point, while Amazon has been trying to slim down its costs with little desire to increase them.

“While Amazon fared extremely well during the pandemic thanks to the e-commerce boom and surge in parcel deliveries, the return to physical stores post-COVID along with soaring inflation meant 2022 was a tough year for tech all round.

“Earlier this month CEO Andy Jassy said he was planning to axe around 18,000 jobs to weather the tough economic times, a move that has helped to instil confidence among investors, reflected by its shares which are up by more than 12% year-to-date in stark contrast to last year’s slide.”

Read more: UK business output falls at steepest pace in two years

The index was also uplifted by data revealing that UK producer input prices rose by 16.5% annually in December, slowing from the 18.0% annual rise seen in November,

On a monthly basis, input prices fell 1.1% in December, compared to a revised monthly fall of 0.2% in November, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Meanwhile, the pound (GBPUSD=X) was slightly lower against the dollar at $1.2326 and against the euro (GBPEUR=X) at €1.1320.

Brent crude (BZ=F) rose and was trading at around $86 (£69.84) per barrel, as rising China demand pointed to a potential upside for the market.

In Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 (^N225) closed higher, climbing 0.35% to 27,395 points, while the Hang Seng (^HSI) in Hong Kong gained and the Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) remained closed for Lunar New Year holiday.

Across the pond, stocks finished mixed on Tuesday after industry majors 3M (MMM), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), and GE (GE) beat expectations for profit but warned of a challenging year ahead.

The Dow Jones (^DJI) rose 0.31% to close at 33,733 points. The S&P 500 (^GSPC) finished flat at 4,016 points and the tech-heavy NASDAQ (^IXIC) lost 0.27% to 11,334.

S&P 500 futures (ES=F), Dow futures (YM=F) and Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) were all in the red as trade began in Europe on Wednesday.

Watch: Amazon strike: First formal walkout on British soil has begun

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