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London midday: Stocks rise as oil prices continue to drop

By Benjamin Chiou

Date: Thursday 18 Apr 2024

London midday: Stocks rise as oil prices continue to drop

(Sharecast News) - UK stocks were rising on Thursday but had given up some of their earlier gains by lunchtime with investor risk appetite still shaken by a sell-off earlier in the week, though falling oil prices were helping bolster markets for the time being.
The FTSE 100 was up just 0.2% at 7,867 by just before the midday mark, pulling back slightly after hitting an earlier high of 7,899. The index was still attempting to rebound after a 1.8% drop on Tuesday to a four-week low on the back of escalating tensions in the Middle East and fading hopes of rate cuts by the Federal Reserve.

Helping gains on Thursday was a continued decline in oil prices, with Brent crude down a further 1% at $86.52 a barrel, a three-week low, having dropped sharply from the $90 level earlier in the week.

Joshua Mahony, chief market analyst at Scope Markets, said market sentiment "appears to be heavily entrenched with the trajectory of crude oil". He said that recent concerns that higher oil prices will spur a second wave of inflation have faded somewhat.

"The risk of an escalation between Israel and Iran appears to be easing with each passing day, while yesterday's fourth consecutive weekly gain for US crude inventories has signalled an oversupply despite a recent decline in US output," he said.

Things look relatively quiet on the economic data front for Thursday, with US jobless claims, the Philadelphia manufacturing index and national existing home sales being the only major releases of the day.

However, speeches from a number of central bank members will likely garner a lot of attention as financial leaders meet at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Spring events in Washington.

Airlines and financials rise

Budget airline easyJet was a high riser, gaining 2% after reporting that its winter losses narrowed by more than £50m over the six months through March despite challenges like fuel cost inflation and Middle East tensions impacting results. Sector peers Wizz Air and IAG were also in demand in London as oil prices continued to retreat.

Meanwhile, financial stocks such as Prudential, Phoenix, St James's Place, Beazley and Standard Chartered were also among the best performers on the FTSE 100.

Leading the fallers was Rentokil Initial after underwhelming investors with a 4.9% increase in first-quarter revenue. Shares fell 3%.

On the FTSE 250, shares in Hipgnosis Songs Fund rocketed by more than 30% after the music rights investor said it had agreed a $1.4bn takeover by US-based Concord Chorus, a music and theatrical rights firm. Hipgnosis Songs investors will get $1.16 a share in cash, a 32% premium based on current exchange rates from Wednesday's closing price.

Dunelm shares dropped 3% after the homewares retailer reported a slowdown in sales growth in its third quarter due to "volatile" trading conditions. The company said total sales in the three months to 30 March were up 3% year-on-year at £435m, compared with 4.5% growth seen in the first half.

Gold miner Centamin was nearly 6% lower after reporting a slight decline in first-quarter production and higher unit costs, though it reaffirmed its full-year cost and output guidance.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,866.62 0.24%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 19,403.72 0.33%
techMARK (TASX) 4,390.02 0.06%

FTSE 100 - Risers

International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 166.95p 3.89%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 661.40p 2.83%
Prudential (PRU) 710.20p 2.60%
easyJet (EZJ) 529.00p 2.08%
SSE (SSE) 1,649.50p 1.85%
National Grid (NG.) 1,031.00p 1.78%
Diageo (DGE) 2,847.50p 1.73%
Phoenix Group Holdings (PHNX) 483.20p 1.51%
St James's Place (STJ) 416.80p 1.41%
Beazley (BEZ) 660.50p 1.38%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Rentokil Initial (RTO) 433.90p -2.91%
Unite Group (UTG) 914.50p -2.56%
BAE Systems (BA.) 1,289.00p -2.35%
Croda International (CRDA) 4,805.00p -2.08%
Spirax-Sarco Engineering (SPX) 9,275.00p -1.85%
BP (BP.) 508.40p -1.63%
Experian (EXPN) 3,233.00p -1.46%
Scottish Mortgage Inv Trust (SMT) 815.60p -1.43%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,130.00p -1.40%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) 9,032.00p -1.07%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited NPV (SONG) 91.90p 30.35%
AJ Bell (AJB) 311.00p 5.42%
Dr. Martens (DOCS) 70.15p 4.70%
Wizz Air Holdings (WIZZ) 2,080.00p 4.68%
Spire Healthcare Group (SPI) 248.50p 4.19%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 148.60p 3.77%
Genus (GNS) 1,794.00p 2.40%
Me Group International (MEGP) 168.40p 2.31%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 575.00p 2.22%
BH Macro Ltd. GBP Shares (BHMG) 352.50p 2.17%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Centamin (DI) (CEY) 122.40p -5.63%
Vesuvius (VSVS) 457.50p -3.68%
Twentyfour Income Fund Limited Ord Red (TFIF) 101.40p -3.61%
W.A.G Payment Solutions (WPS) 64.60p -3.58%
Watches of Switzerland Group (WOSG) 337.40p -3.49%
Jupiter Fund Management (JUP) 80.00p -3.38%
Dunelm Group (DNLM) 1,038.00p -3.35%
Quilter (QLT) 99.70p -2.73%
Trustpilot Group (TRST) 189.40p -2.47%
International Distributions Services (IDS) 269.20p -2.46%


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