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London open: Stocks gain after US highs; Whitbread jumps

By Michele Maatouk

Date: Tuesday 18 Jun 2024

London open: Stocks gain after US highs; Whitbread jumps

(Sharecast News) - London stocks rose in early trade on Tuesday following a solid close on Wall Street, which saw the S&P 500 and Nasdaq set new record highs.
At 0840 BST, the FTSE 100 was up 0.5% at 8,184.40.

Guy Lawson-Johns, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "The FTSE 100 has opened higher after confident trade in New York overnight, and a good showing for Asian equities.

"Focus will be on eurozone inflation data in the late morning, followed by a reading on the health of the US consumer in the afternoon. Attention then shifts back to the UK, with consumer price index data due on Wednesday, ahead of the Bank of England's decision on Thursday, where rates are expected to remain unmoved."

Investors were mulling the latest policy decision from the Reserve Bank of Australia, which left its cash rate unchanged at a 12-year high of 4.35%, as expected.

Oxford Economics said: "Despite the RBA's hawkish tone this month, we do not expect to see any more rate hikes. Another hike would represent a big departure from their current reaction function.

"We expect rates will stay on hold through 2024, with the first cut to come in early 2025."

On home shores, data from Kantar showed that grocery inflation eased to 2.1% in the four weeks to 9 June, from 2.4% in May.

Nevertheless, Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said the cost-of-living crisis is far from over.

"22% of households say they're struggling, meaning that they aren't able to cover their expenses or are just making ends meet," he said.

"However, there are positive signs that many of us no longer feel the need to restrict our spending quite so much, with lower inflation helping to ease the pressure on people's pockets. In May, we recorded the largest jump in the number of comfortable households since January 2023, rising by two percentage points on February 2024's figure. Costs are falling in nearly one third of the grocery categories we track, including toilet tissues, butter and milk. That's a big increase from last year, when just 1% of markets were declining."

In equity markets, Premier Inn owner Whitbread rallied as it said it was confident on its full year outlook despite flat first quarter sales. Hotel sales were boosted by a strong performance in Germany, where they rose 15%, offsetting zero growth in the UK.

Telecom Plus also gained after it posted better-than-expected full-year pre-tax profit as customer and service numbers continued to grow.

In the year to the end of March 2024, adjusted pre-tax profit rose 21.5% to £116.9m, coming in above market expectations of £96.2m. The company, which trades as Utility Warehouse, hailed customer growth of 14.1% to just over 1 million, while service numbers increased by 328,949 to just over 3.1m.

Equipment rental firm Ashtead slumped, however, as its fourth-quarter profits came in shy of expectations and the company pointed to a further moderation of growth in the coming year.

Outside the FTSE 350, XP Power tumbled after Denver-based Advanced Energy Industries said it does not plan to make a takeover offer for the group as it has not been able to access the due diligence necessary.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 8,184.40 0.52%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 20,267.27 0.53%
techMARK (TASX) 4,771.78 -0.19%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Whitbread (WTB) 3,012.00p 3.75%
Flutter Entertainment (DI) (FLTR) 14,760.00p 1.90%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 167.95p 1.79%
easyJet (EZJ) 457.90p 1.67%
Glencore (GLEN) 455.45p 1.58%
Smurfit Kappa Group (CDI) (SKG) 3,616.00p 1.52%
Prudential (PRU) 707.40p 1.46%
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 8,252.00p 1.43%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,993.00p 1.42%
Beazley (BEZ) 683.00p 1.41%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Ashtead Group (AHT) 5,242.00p -4.86%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 982.20p -0.51%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 12,410.00p -0.14%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) 9,422.00p -0.13%
Sage Group (SGE) 1,057.50p -0.09%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 985.40p -0.04%
RELX FINANCE BV 3.375% GTD NTS 20/03/33 (BW73) 99.72p 0.00%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 5,187.00p 0.12%
Croda International (CRDA) 4,064.00p 0.12%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 578.80p 0.14%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Dr. Martens (DOCS) 85.10p 4.93%
Auction Technology Group (ATG) 588.00p 4.07%
NCC Group (NCC) 149.00p 3.91%
Baltic Classifieds Group (BCG) 235.00p 3.30%
PureTech Health (PRTC) 225.00p 2.74%
Watches of Switzerland Group (WOSG) 399.60p 2.72%
Telecom Plus (TEP) 1,924.00p 2.67%
Discoverie Group (DSCV) 699.00p 2.64%
Carnival (CCL) 1,105.00p 2.41%
Petershill Partners (PHLL) 213.50p 2.40%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Me Group International (MEGP) 164.00p -2.15%
W.A.G Payment Solutions (WPS) 65.20p -2.10%
Kainos Group (KNOS) 1,070.00p -2.01%
TI Fluid Systems (TIFS) 128.60p -1.98%
Helios Towers (HTWS) 121.20p -1.78%
Syncona Limited NPV (SYNC) 111.00p -1.77%
Pacific Horizon Inv Trust (PHI) 613.00p -1.45%
Genus (GNS) 1,678.00p -1.29%
NB Private Equity Partners Ltd. (NBPE) 1,572.00p -1.13%
Ruffer Investment Company Ltd Red PTG Pref Shares (RICA) 267.50p -1.11%


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