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LONDON MARKET MIDDAY: Stocks in green; eurozone CPI cools to 2.6%

1st Mar 2024 11:50

(Alliance News) - Stock prices in London were higher at midday on Friday, after data showed that inflation in the eurozone fell by less than expected.

The FTSE 100 index was up 48.70 points, 0.6%, at 7,678.72. The FTSE 250 was up 158.18 points, 0.8%, at 19,213.05, and the AIM All-Share was up 0.06 of a point at 736.56.

The Cboe UK 100 was up 0.5% at 769.62, the Cboe UK 250 was up 0.6% at 16573.29, and the Cboe Small Companies was up 0.1% at 14,471.86.

In European equities on Friday, the CAC 40 in Paris was down 0.1%, while the DAX 40 in Frankfurt was up 0.5%.

The UK manufacturing downturn continued in February with weak demand and the Red Sea shipping crisis both disrupting production, new survey data on Friday showed.

The seasonally adjusted S&P Global UK manufacturing purchasing managers' index reading was 47.5 points in February, up from 47.0 in January and above the earlier flash estimate of 47.1.

Whilst the February score was up from the prior month, the figure remained below the 50-point no-change mark. This means the UK manufacturing sector shrank again last month.

Although the PMI has signalled contractions in each of the past 19 months, the latest reading was the best since April 2023.

Meanwhile, the slump in the eurozone's manufacturing sector worsened in February.

The latest Hamburg Commercial Bank manufacturing purchasing managers' index fell to 46.5 points in February, down from 46.6 points in January. This marked a two-month low.

Still to come on Friday, there is PMI data from the US at 1445 GMT and 1500 GMT.

Also in the eurozone, consumer price inflation cooled last month, according to an official flash estimate on Friday, though by less than market expectations.

Eurostat said it estimates yearly harmonised consumer price inflation cooled to 2.6% in February, from 2.8% in January. The reading was slightly higher than FXStreet-cited market consensus of 2.5%.

"Food inflation dropped further, while energy remains in deflation. Inflationary pressures from disruptions in the Red Sea have not materialised yet, as goods inflation fell further, but services inflation remains sticky," said analysts at Oxford Economics.

Across the Atlantic, New York stocks are called to open lower. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 index were down 0.2%, and the Nasdaq Composite down 0.1%.

US inflation pressure eased a touch at the start of the year, according to new data on Thursday.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the core personal consumption expenditure grew 2.8% on-year in January, easing from December's 2.9% rise. The core PCE reading is the Fed's preferred inflation gauge.

The outcome came out in line with FXStreet cited consensus.

The pound was quoted at USD1.2634 at midday on Friday in London, lower compared to USD1.2636 at the equities close on Thursday. The euro stood at USD1.0815, higher against USD1.0811. Against the yen, the dollar was trading at JPY150.47, higher compared to JPY149.82.

In the FTSE 100, Pearson rose 3.1%.

Pearson is a London-based provider of digital and virtual learnings materials for both higher education institutions and professionals.

For 2023, the company delivered GBP3.67 billion in sales, down 4.3% from GBP3.84 billion in 2022. Pretax profit, however, was up 53% to GBP493 million from GBP323 million.

Pearson has proposed a final dividend of 15.7p, above 2022's 14.9p dividend, bringing the total amount returned to shareholders up to 22.7p from 21.5p in 2022.

Rightmove lost 3.8%.

In the year ending December, the London-based online real estate agency said pretax profit climbed 7.7% to GBP259.8 million from GBP241.3 million the year prior. Revenue advanced by 10% to GBP364.3 million from GBP332.6 million.

The improved financial performance was reflected in a 9.4% increase in the dividend to 9.3p per share from 8.5p.

However, looking ahead, Rightmove warned that customer numbers are likely to drop slightly, given the ongoing uncertainty in the macro environment.

In the FTSE 250, ITV rose 15%.

The London-based television broadcaster and content producer said it has sold its entire interest in BritBox International to its joint venture partner, BBC Studios, for GBP255 million and will return all the cash to shareholders.

An online digital video subscription service, BritBox was originally founded by both ITV and the BBC, and operates in a number of countries, including the US and South Africa.

"The sale of 50% of BritBox International means ITV is focused on its core strategic goals of continuing to build on ITVX's success and growing ITV Studios," said ITV Chief Executive Officer Carolyn McCall.

Amongst London's small-caps, Superdry fell 9.7%.

The Cheltenham, England-based clothing retailer said it extended a deadline for Chief Executive Officer Julian Dunkerton to announce a firm intention to make a takeover offer, amid ongoing talks.

Superdry said the put-up-or-shut-up deadline for Dunkerton has been extended to March 29.

Early in February, Dunkerton confirmed that he is in discussions with potential financing partners. This could include a possible cash offer for all Superdry shares not already owned by him. Dunkerton, who founded Superdry in 1985, currently has a 26% stake.

Brent oil was quoted at USD83.12 a barrel at midday in London on Friday, up from USD82.13 late Thursday. Gold was quoted at USD2,054.66 an ounce, higher against USD2,045.84.

By Sophie Rose, Alliance News senior reporter

Comments and questions to [email protected]

Copyright 2024 Alliance News Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

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