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LONDON MARKET OPEN: Stocks largely lower; oil majors weigh on FTSE 100

24th Apr 2023 08:55

(Alliance News) - Stock prices in London opened larger lower on Monday, with the FTSE 100 weighed down by oil producers Shell and BP as the price of crude softened.

The FTSE 100 index opened down 10.01 points, or 0.1%, at 7,904.12. The FTSE 250 was up 9.87 points, or 0.1%, at 19,279.88, but the AIM All-Share was down 1.44 points, or 0.2%, at 828.86.

The Cboe UK 100 index was flat at 791.02, the Cboe UK 250 was up 0.3% at 16,900.25, and the Cboe Small Companies was up 0.1% at 13,814.33.

The pound was quoted at USD1.2429 early on Monday in London, slightly higher compared to USD1.2410 at the close on Friday. Sterling was supported by reassuring figures for the UK housing market.

UK house price growth slowed in April, according to figures on Monday, though property portal Rightmove reported signs of "stability" in the market.

The average asking price of a UK property rose 0.2% on-month to GBP366,247 from GBP365,357, according to Rightmove. Prices had risen 0.8% in March from February.

On an annual basis, prices climbed 1.7% in April, cooling from a 3.0% rise in March.

Properties are selling faster than they were prior to the pandemic, Rightmove said. "Not only is the number of sales agreed now back to pre-pandemic levels, but homes are also on average selling twelve days more quickly than at this time in 2019," noted Rightmove Director of Property Science Tim Bannister.

In London, commodity stocks were amongst the worst performers in the FTSE 100 index on Monday morning.

Glencore was down 1.5%, BP 1.2%, and Shell 1.2%.

Brent oil was quoted at USD80.40 a barrel early in London on Monday, down from USD81.23 late Friday.

Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote Bank said oil was down due to a broadly stronger US dollar as a result of mounting tensions with China.

The euro stood at USD1.0979 early Monday in London, firm against USD1.0974 late Friday. Against the yen, the dollar was trading at JPY134.20, soft compared to JPY134.28. A week ago, the euro bought USD1.0988, and the dollar bought JPY134.02.

China's ambassador to France has sparked anger in eastern Europe and Ukraine while drawing a rebuke from Paris and the EU after questioning the sovereignty of post-Soviet countries.

Speaking Friday on France's LCI news channel, Ambassador Lu Shaye suggested countries that emerged after the fall of the Soviet Union "don't have effective status under international law because there is not an international agreement confirming their status as sovereign nations".

The ambassador's comments cast doubt not just on Ukraine, which Russia invaded in February 2022, but all former Soviet republics which emerged as independent nations after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, including members of the EU.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell branded the remarks "unacceptable" in the latest sign of indignation in Europe.

Gold was quoted at USD1,981.66 an ounce early Monday, higher against USD1,977.53 late Friday.

The top blue-chip performers early Monday morning were Dowlais, United Utilities, and Severn Trent. The stocks were up 1.8%, 0.8%, and 0.9%, respectively.

In the FTSE 250, Wizz Air rose 2.7% after Citigroup raised the low-cost airline to 'neutral' with a price target of 3,000 pence. The stock is currently trading at 2,853.00p.

Elsewhere in London, Medica surged 32% after it reached an agreement with Moonlight Bidco, a wholly-owned subsidiary of private equity firm IK Investment Partners, on a takeover.

Moonlight will acquire the telemedicine services provider for 212 pence per share in cash. The deal values all of Medica at GBP269 million.

The price per share represents a 33% premium to Medica's closing price of 160.0p per share on Friday. The stock is currently trading at 211.75p.

On AIM, Touchstone Exploration dropped 9.6%. The oil and gas company reported that the initial Royston-1X production test of the least prospective section of the well confirmed the presence of light crude oil at non-commercial rates.

During testing, the well did not flow oil to surface. Touchstone said the section of the formation appears to be a low permeability reservoir, and, consequently, further testing will not be conducted.

Touchstone has an 80% operating working interest in the well, which is located on the Ortoire block onshore in the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago.

In European equities on Monday, the CAC 40 in Paris and DAX 40 in Frankfurt both were down 0.3%.

Credit Suisse reported a swing to profit in its first quarter, but a flight of deposits and assets under management, following the wipeout of its bondholders.

The set of results are likely to be its final ones prior to its merger with UBS.

In its first-quarter results, Credit Suisse reported "significant withdrawals of cash deposits" and non-renewal of maturing time deposits during the period.

"These outflows, which were most acute in the days immediately preceding and following the announcement of the merger, stabilized to much lower levels, but had not yet reversed as of April 24, 2023," it explained.

In Tokyo on Monday, the Nikkei 225 index closed 0.1% higher. In China, the Shanghai Composite closed down 0.8%, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong closed down 0.9%. The S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney closed down 0.1%.

US shares ended higher on Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq Composite all up 0.1%.

Earnings remained in focus on Friday after a lukewarm investor reaction to results from companies such as Tesla, AT&T and Goldman Sachs earlier in the week.

Shares in Procter & Gamble closed 3.5% higher on Friday, as higher prices for the company's consumer goods helped net sales to rise.

There was also better economic news for the US, despite fears of a looming recession.

US private sector growth topped expectations this month, results from an S&P Global survey showed. The flash composite purchasing managers' index spiked to an 11-month high of 53.5 points in April from March's final score of 52.3.

This week, investors will be switching their attention from banks to big tech, with Microsoft, Alphabet, Amazon and Meta all reporting their earnings.

Nigel Green, chief executive of deVere Group, said the earnings will highlight which companies have been able to maintain margin and said their guidance will be "critical" as indicators show the US economy is headed for a downturn.

By Heather Rydings, Alliance News senior economics reporter

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