5th Feb 2024 08:47
(Alliance News) - Stock prices in London opened higher on Monday, following New York's Friday rally thanks to a strong US jobs report.
The FTSE 100 index opened up 28.53 points, 0.4%, at 7,644.07. The FTSE 250 was up 39.08 points, 0.2%, at 19,211.72, and the AIM All-Share was up 0.90 of a point, 0.1%, at 755.07.
The Cboe UK 100 was up 0.4% at 764.80, the Cboe UK 250 was up 0.3% at 16,672.46, and the Cboe Small Companies was up slightly at 14,653.75.
In the US on Friday, Wall Street ended higher, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.4%, the S&P 500 up 1.1% and the Nasdaq Composite up 1.7%.
Last week began with optimism of an interest rate cut in March, but ended with analysts querying whether one would arrive even in May, as the US economy continued to defy those who predicted higher rates would lead to recession.
But, while the strong jobs report seemed to end hopes for a March cut, investors preferred to focus on the resilience showed by the economy and the improved outlook for corporate profitability.
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, nonfarm payroll employment rose by 353,000 in January, picking up speed from 333,000 in December.
The latest figure defied the consensus forecast. Hiring was predicted to slow to 180,000 jobs, according to consensus cited by FXStreet.
"The jobs numbers are looking great – to say the least, and the US economic growth continues to surprise to the upside. None of these numbers point to recession, or a need for the Fed to start cutting the rates," said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote Bank.
However, the situation in the US has been muddied by an interview aired Sunday, which saw Federal Reserve Chief Jerome Powell say the US is on an "unsustainable" path with regard to its national debt and it is time to address the issue. The US national debt currently stands at more than USD34 trillion, according to the US Treasury.
"In the long run, the US is on an unsustainable fiscal path. The US federal government's on an unsustainable fiscal path. And that just means that the debt is growing faster than the economy," Powell told CBS' 60 Minutes news programme.
The pound was quoted at USD1.2615 early on Monday in London, lower compared to USD1.2639 at the equities close on Friday. The euro stood at USD1.0777, down against USD1.0793. Against the yen, the dollar was trading at JPY148.54, up compared to JPY148.35.
In the FTSE 100, Vodafone lost 1.2%, falling to the bottom of the index.
The telecommunications provider said that in its third quarter total revenue fell 2.3% to EUR11.37 billion from EUR11.64 billion a year earlier. Service revenue fell to EUR9.38 billion from EUR9.52 billion.
"We maintained good service revenue momentum in the third quarter across both Europe and Africa, supported by a further acceleration of Vodafone Business, with our Cloud and Internet of Things services growing over 20%," Chief Executive Margherita Della Valle said.
In the FTSE 250, SDCL Energy Efficiency Income Trust rose 0.6%.
The investor said that Cokenergy, a project within its Primary Energy portfolio, has renewed its long term contract with Cleveland Cliffs at the Indiana Harbor Works East steel mill in the US.
SDCL also said operational cashflows in the final quarter of 2023 have been in line with its expectations.
It noted that portfolio disposals remain a "priority" and it has now received a number of credible proposals.
"Whilst there can be no certainty that these proposals will result in a sale, the investment manager is focused on progressing these processes expediently and will provide further updates in due course," SDCL added.
Amongst London's small-caps, CMC Markets jumped 6.9%.
The trading services provider said it plans to cut around 200 jobs, around 17% of its existing headcount, following a cost review which was announced in November last year.
CMC said it is expected to incur a one-off, non-recurring cost of about GBP2.5 million in financial 2024 with estimated annualised savings of GBP21 million to be realised in financial 2025, representing an 18% reduction against consensus staff costs.
"Cost reductions have been primarily achieved by merging support functions across multiple business lines, streamlining reporting lines and automating processes. The group will continue to seek opportunities to drive efficiencies and control costs while remaining committed to investing in growth opportunities and ensuring its technology remains market leading," CMC said.
Superdry continued to rise, up 6.6% on Monday morning.
Shares in the Cheltenham, England-based clothes retailer more than doubled on Friday, as takeover talks for the embattled firm heated up.
In China, the Shanghai Composite was down 1.0%, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was down 0.2%.
China's service sector activity growth slowed mildly in January, data from S&P Global showed.
The seasonally adjusted headline Caixin China general services business activity index fell to 52.7 in January from 52.9 in December.
Meanwhile, the Caixin China general composite PMI decreased to 52.5 in January from 52.6 a month prior.
In Asia on Monday, the Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo was up 0.5%.
The headline au Jibun Bank Japan services business activity index rose to 53.1 in January from 51.5 in December.
Meanwhile, the au Jibun Bank Japan composite PMI output index climbed to 51.5 in January from a neutral 50.0 in December, the strongest increase since September.
The S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney closed down 1.0%.
The Judo Bank services PMI improved to 49.1 points in January from 47.1 in December.
It helped the Australia composite output index to rise to 49.0 points, just below the neutral mark of 50 points, from 46.9 in December.
Still to come on Monday, there is PMI data from the eurozone, the UK, and the US.
In European equities on Monday, the CAC 40 in Paris was up 0.1%, while the DAX 40 in Frankfurt was up slightly.
Brent oil was quoted at USD77.39 a barrel early in London on Monday, up from USD77.09 late Friday. Gold was quoted at USD2,023.44 an ounce, lower against USD2,034.63.
By Sophie Rose, Alliance News senior reporter
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