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London close: Stocks finish weaker as commodities drag

By Josh White

Date: Monday 04 Dec 2023

London close: Stocks finish weaker as commodities drag

(Sharecast News) - London's equity markets closed lower on Monday as investors kept a watchful eye on upcoming US jobs data, while gold prices surged to record highs.
The FTSE 100 index ended the day down 0.22% at 7,512.96, while the FTSE 250 also dipped, closing 0.26% lower at 18,361.25.

In currency markets, sterling was last down 0.79% on the dollar at $1.2609, while it dropped 0.14% against the euro, changing hands at €1.1664.

"European markets have got the new week off to a slow and mixed start with a weak commodities sector weighing on the FTSE 100, with weakness in basic resources and energy acting as the main drag," said CMC Markets chief market analyst Michael Hewson.

"We appear to be seeing some profit taking in miners after the broker upgrade inspired gains of Friday, which saw Anglo American and Antofagasta pop higher.

"BP and Shell are also acting as a drag on the back of further weakness in oil and gas prices."

Eurozone investor confidence improves, gold prices surge

In economic news, eurozone investor confidence saw a notable increase in December, reaching its highest level in seven months, although it remained in negative territory according to a closely monitored survey.

The Sentix investor confidence index, which gauges the sentiment of financial analysts and institutional investors regarding the present economic situation and future prospects, climbed from -18.6 in November to -16.8.

That was below analysts' expectations of -14.4 but marked the most optimistic reading since May.

Nevertheless, the report was the 22nd consecutive negative investor confidence reading, with the last positive reading dating back to February 2022, according to Sentix.

The current situation index improved from -26.8 to -23.5, while the expectations index rose from -10 to -9.8.

Although the expectations index experienced its third consecutive monthly increase, Sentix noted that momentum remained modest.

"Overall, today's release underscores recent developments in high-frequency indicators which are bottoming-out but don't provide much hope for a speedy recovery," said Oxford Economics economist Alexander Valentin.

"We expect the fourth quarter to result in stagnation or small contraction for the eurozone economy."

In the realm of precious metals, gold prices surged to record highs on Monday, breaking the $2,100 per ounce threshold, driven by growing anticipation of impending interest rate cuts.

During Asian trading, the price of gold soared to as high as $2,135 per ounce before experiencing a slight pullback.

TickMill Group attributed the surge to a significant shift in central bank expectations, noting that both the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank were now anticipated to implement rate cuts early in the coming year.

The firm emphasised that recent drops in both the consumer price index and employment indicators in the US-led traders to recalibrate their expectations, replacing previous tightening forecasts with projections of rate cuts throughout the first half of next year.

"So far this year, the precious metal is up around 13.5% and has gained around 5% in the past month," said Victoria Scholar, head of investment at Interactive Investor.

"Concerns about the shaky global economic backdrop and the Israel-Hamas conflict have fuelled investor demand for safe-haven assets like gold."

Scholar added that expectations for Fed rate cuts next year were putting downward pressure on the dollar, adding to gold's attractiveness.

"A recent survey from the World Gold Council found that 24% of all central banks plan to up their gold reserves in the next year, which could fuel further upside for gold in 2024."

888 Holdings rockets, mining and energy plays drag

On London's equity markets, the mining and energy sectors saw declines as metals and oil prices faced downward pressure.

BP decreased by 1.37%, while Shell slipped by 1.05%.

Rio Tinto recorded a decline of 2.48%, and Glencore followed suit with a decrease of 3.06%.

Anglo American saw a notable drop of 4.11%, and Antofagasta was down by 2.61%.

On the upside, Petrofac surged 29.34% despite earlier losses.

The company's stock rebounded after initially declining when it announced plans to sell some assets and issued a warning regarding cash flow.

William Hill owner 888 Holdings jumped 15.63%, driven by news that it rejected Playtech's £700m takeover approach.

Playtech's written indicative approach, valuing 888 at 156p per share in July, was turned down as it was perceived to undervalue the company.

Meanwhile, Playtech itself saw a modest increase of 0.83%.

Rolls-Royce Holdings gained 3.29% following an upgrade from JPMorgan, which raised its share rating to 'overweight' from 'neutral'.

DS Smith also enjoyed a boost, with Barclays upgrading its shares to 'overweight' from 'equalweight' and raising the price target to 360p from 310p.

The bank noted that DS Smith was currently one of the most attractively valued stocks in the global packaging sector, with expectations of a volume recovery driving a potential multiple re-rating.

Capita rallied with a 3% increase after announcing the sale of its 75% stake in Fera Science - a joint venture specialising in environmental testing, research, and advisory services.

The sale to Bridgepoint Group would provide Capita with £62m in cash proceeds, strengthening its balance sheet and supporting future investments.

Boohoo Group and Frasers Group also saw positive movements, with Boohoo rising by 1.75%.

Mike Ashley's Frasers Group again increased its stake in the fast-fashion retailer, having become Boohoo's largest shareholder in October.

Reporting by Josh White for

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,512.96 -0.22%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 18,361.25 -0.26%
techMARK (TASX) 4,071.60 -0.39%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 285.40p 3.14%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 164.90p 2.84%
BT Group (BT.A) 126.10p 1.98%
WPP (WPP) 723.00p 1.72%
B&M European Value Retail S.A. (DI) (BME) 598.20p 1.56%
Pearson (PSON) 933.60p 1.52%
Frasers Group (FRAS) 913.00p 1.50%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 45.13p 1.44%
GSK (GSK) 1,455.40p 1.35%
Smith (DS) (SMDS) 300.10p 1.21%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Anglo American (AAL) 2,224.50p -3.74%
Glencore (GLEN) 443.65p -3.07%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 5,448.00p -2.70%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,456.00p -2.64%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,468.50p -2.00%
Airtel Africa (AAF) 109.50p -1.79%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 1,073.00p -1.74%
Sage Group (SGE) 1,130.00p -1.65%
Smurfit Kappa Group (CDI) (SKG) 3,030.00p -1.62%
M&G (MNG) 208.00p -1.52%

FTSE 250 - Risers

888 Holdings (DI) (888) 84.05p 19.05%
Auction Technology Group (ATG) 521.00p 6.22%
Carnival (CCL) 1,141.00p 5.50%
Digital 9 Infrastructure NPV (DGI9) 31.75p 3.59%
Wetherspoon (J.D.) (JDW) 725.00p 3.50%
Ceres Power Holdings (CWR) 180.20p 3.38%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 500.50p 2.65%
Bellevue Healthcare Trust (Red) (BBH) 133.60p 2.61%
Mobico Group (MCG) 69.60p 2.35%
Ashmore Group (ASHM) 183.00p 2.29%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

CAB Payments Holdings (CABP) 53.90p -4.43%
Senior (SNR) 164.00p -3.64%
Future (FUTR) 818.50p -3.19%
Oxford Instruments (OXIG) 2,090.00p -3.02%
Essentra (ESNT) 148.00p -3.01%
Baltic Classifieds Group (BCG) 210.00p -2.78%
Bodycote (BOY) 578.50p -2.61%
Bytes Technology Group (BYIT) 531.50p -2.57%
Energean (ENOG) 994.00p -2.55%
Harbour Energy (HBR) 221.50p -2.47%


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