The FTSE 100 and European stocks finished lower this Wednesday as a fall in producer price inflation figures in December wasn't enough to discourage investors amid the first Amazon (AMZN) strike on UK soil.
Across the pond, stocks were lower on worries about corporate profits following a mixed set of earnings reports and forecasts from Microsoft (MSFT) and others.
Microsoft was down 2% after reporting weaker-than-expected revenue growth and issuing a forecast that was weaker than some analysts expected.
Meanwhile, Amazon workers at a warehouse in Coventry were striking over pay this 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.
“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 % 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."
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.
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.