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London close: Stocks slip on renewed geopolitical tensions

By Josh White

Date: Monday 15 Apr 2024

London close: Stocks slip on renewed geopolitical tensions

(Sharecast News) - London's equity markets markets experienced a downturn on Monday, with losses particularly notable in the mining and oil sectors, as investors remained cautious amid to escalating geopolitical tensions in the Middle East.
The FTSE 100 closed down 0.38%, settling at 7,965.53 points, while the FTSE 250 experienced a more modest decline of 0.11%, ending the day at 19,698.89 points.

Over the weekend, following a strike on the Iran consulate in Damascus, Iran launched a significant number of drones and missiles at Israel.

The majority were intercepted by air defence systems, with assistance from the US, UK, France, and Jordan, although the situation remained tense, with attention now turning to Israel's response.

The US warned against any retaliatory action by Israel, emphasising its non-participation in such endeavours.

In currency markets, sterling was last up 0.05% on the dollar at $1.2458, while it advanced 0.11% against the euro to change hands at €1.1712.

"Following two straight weeks of falling stock prices, European and US indices ended the session in positive territory amid de-escalation hopes in the Middle East, a rebound in Eurozone industrial output, much stronger-than-expected US retail sales and solid Goldman Sachs earnings which beat estimates," said IG senior market analyst Axel Rudolph.

"The stock rally occurred despite the US 10-year Treasury yield climbing over 4.6%, leading to further dollar appreciation to five-month highs."

Rudolph noted that gold prices reached another record high on Friday, briefly topping the $2,400 per troy ounce mark on flight-to-safety flows amid heightened tensions in the Middle East, before trading flat on Monday amid hopes of de-escalation in the region.

"This is also the reason for the slightly softer oil price."

Eurozone industrial output rebounds, US retail sales top forecasts

In economic news, eurozone industrial output rebounded modestly in February, following a notable downturn in the prior month, according to Eurostat.

The seasonally-adjusted data showed a 0.8% increase in industrial production, contrasting with January's 3% decline, which was revised upward from the initial -3.2% reading.

That performance aligned with economists' forecasts.

The uptick was supported by increased output in intermediate goods of 0.5%, capital goods of 1.2%, and durable consumer goods of 1.4%, which offset declines in energy of 3.0% and non-durable consumer goods of 0.9%.

Among member states, Ireland, Hungary, and Slovenia showed the strongest growth rates of 3.8%, 3.5% and 3.3%, respectively, while Croatia, Lithuania, and Belgium experienced the largest declines of 4.6%, 3.0% and 2.7%.

Year-on-year, industrial production in the eurozone decreased 6.4% compared to last February, slightly less than the 6.6% drop recorded in January.

Meanwhile, retail sales in the United States outpaced expectations last month, driven by significant increases in non-store retailers and gasoline sales, according to the Department of Commerce.

In seasonally-adjusted terms, retail sales volumes rose 0.7% in March, reaching $709.6bn, surpassing economists' projections of a 0.3% rise.

The prior month's figures were also revised upward by three-tenths of a percentage point to 0.9%.

Excluding automobile and gasoline sales, retail sales increased by an even stronger 1.0%.

Non-store retailers experienced robust demand, with sales advancing 2.7% compared to February, while gasoline station sales rose by 2.1%.

However, sales at automobile and parts dealers declined by 0.7%, and clothing and sporting goods sales experienced drops of 1.6% and 1.8%, respectively.

Inchcape jumps on UK exit plans, oil firms track crude prices lower

On London's equity markets, airlines easyJet and IAG saw positive growth, up by 2.49% and 0.07%, respectively, as the impact of Middle Eastern geopolitics on oil prices turned out to be less severe than anticipated.

Inchcape shares jumped 4.34% after announcing the disposal of its UK retail operations to Group 1 Automotive UK for £346m.

The company also revealed plans to return £100m to shareholders through a buyback programme.

Mitie Group added 6.63% after upgrading its annual profit forecast and launching an extra £50m share buyback.

The company's operating profits were expected to increase by 23% to at least £200m, compared to £162m the previous year.

Similarly, digital services provider Kainos Group saw 5.3% increase in its shares.

The company announced solid revenue growth and robust growth in adjusted profit before tax for the financial year, aligning with expectations despite revenues trending slightly below consensus forecasts.

On the downside, Kingfisher, owner of B&Q and Screwfix, slipped 0.32% following the announcement of chair Andrew Cosslett's departure after seven years.

Energy producers BP and Shell both saw decreases, down by 2.19% and 1.62%, respectively, as they tracked the lower price of crude oil.

Precious metals producer Fresnillo also faced a downturn, with shares dropping by 3.94% as investors took profits following a significant increase in stock value over the past month.

Other mining companies such as Anglo American and Glencore also experienced declines, of 1.48% and 0.76%, respectively.

PageGroup shares plummeted by 9.13% after the recruitment firm posted lower first-quarter gross profit due to the ongoing economic slowdown, particularly impacting the UK and Asia-Pacific operations.

Reporting by Josh White for Sharecast.com.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,965.53 -0.38%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 19,698.89 -0.11%
techMARK (TASX) 4,463.36 -0.13%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Beazley (BEZ) 673.50p 2.98%
IMI (IMI) 1,802.00p 2.10%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 363.90p 2.02%
B&M European Value Retail S.A. (DI) (BME) 510.60p 1.92%
Admiral Group (ADM) 2,711.00p 1.50%
BAE Systems (BA.) 1,337.50p 1.44%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,298.50p 1.29%
Tesco (TSCO) 286.30p 1.20%
Intertek Group (ITRK) 4,860.00p 1.17%
Phoenix Group Holdings (PHNX) 508.50p 0.99%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Fresnillo (FRES) 598.00p -3.94%
CRH (CDI) (CRH) 6,554.00p -2.21%
BP (BP.) 527.30p -2.19%
Centrica (CNA) 130.50p -2.10%
Pershing Square Holdings Ltd NPV (PSH) 4,004.00p -1.91%
BT Group (BT.A) 105.10p -1.87%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 5,700.00p -1.66%
Shell (SHEL) 2,889.50p -1.62%
Flutter Entertainment (DI) (FLTR) 14,980.00p -1.58%
Anglo American (AAL) 2,169.00p -1.48%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Mitie Group (MTO) 119.00p 6.63%
Kainos Group (KNOS) 1,014.00p 5.30%
Inchcape (INCH) 729.00p 4.37%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 47.30p 3.73%
Trustpilot Group (TRST) 196.20p 3.59%
Future (FUTR) 687.50p 2.54%
Coats Group (COA) 81.60p 2.26%
Lancashire Holdings Limited (LRE) 584.00p 2.10%
Renishaw (RSW) 4,155.00p 2.09%
IWG (IWG) 182.10p 2.07%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Pagegroup (PAGE) 440.00p -9.13%
Endeavour Mining (EDV) 1,712.00p -7.11%
Jupiter Fund Management (JUP) 85.50p -4.04%
Hays (HAS) 92.75p -3.89%
Ithaca Energy (ITH) 118.60p -3.73%
Wizz Air Holdings (WIZZ) 2,016.00p -3.72%
North Atlantic Smaller Companies Inv Trust (NAS) 3,570.00p -3.51%
Ashmore Group (ASHM) 181.80p -3.25%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 126.30p -3.07%
VinaCapital Vietnam Opportunity Fund Ltd. (VOF) 469.50p -3.00%

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