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LONDON MARKET OPEN: Oil Stocks Rise As US Toughens Stance On Iran

Tue, 23rd Apr 2019 09:46

LONDON (Alliance News) - Stock prices in London opened mostly higher early on Tuesday following the long Easter weekend, with heavyweight oil stocks leading the FTSE 100 after tightened US sanctions against Iran lifted Brent crude prices.

The FTSE 100 was up 16.43 points, or 0.2%, at 7,476.31. The FTSE 250 was down 9.74 points at 19,826.31, while the AIM All-Share was up 0.1% at 956.42.

The Cboe UK 100 index was up 0.2% at 12,685.31. The Cboe UK 250 was up 0.1% at 17,785.59, and the Cboe UK Small Companies was flat at 11,460.30.

"With the markets easing back into action after the Easter break, it was an oily start to the abbreviated week," commented Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.

On the London Stock Exchange, oil majors led the blue chip risers, tracking spot oil prices higher.

Royal Dutch Shell 'A' and Shell 'B' shares were up 1.4% and BP was up 1.3%. Shell is the largest company in the FTSE 100 by market capitalisation, and BP is the third biggest.

The North Sea benchmark was quoted at USD74.42 a barrel Tuesday, up from USD71.70 at the London equities close on Thursday. Brent touched a high of USD74.66 in early trade - its highest level so far in 2019.

In the FTSE 250, oil and gas firms Tullow Oil and Premier Oil were the best performers, up 4.2% and 4.0% respectively.

Oil prices were higher after the US on Monday said it will not extend waivers to eight countries that have been allowed to buy oil from Iran despite US sanctions that went into effect in November.

The move is "intended to bring Iran's oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue," according to the White House.

China, India, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey were granted a six-month waiver in November allowing them to continue importing Iranian oil. Monday's announcement means that period will not be extended beyond its May 2 expiration.

Turkey criticized the decision, saying it "will not serve regional peace and stability, yet will harm Iranian people".

"This was long coming, traders always had this on their dashboard as a warning sign. The White House initially granted six months exemptions to larger buyers of Iranian oil last year. The initial plan was to curb the Iranian oil export zero, and this is what Trump is determined to do now at any cost. This means the loss of 700,000 to 800,000 barrels a day of Iranian oil. The fear of supply crunch is back in the market, and this is pushing the oil price higher today," said ThinkMarkets analyst Naeem Aslam.

At the other end the large-cap index, Mexican gold miner Fresnillo was the worst performer, down 2.3%, tracking spot gold prices lower. The metal was quoted at USD1,272.76 per ounce early Tuesday, down from USD1,275.20 at the London equities close on Thursday.

British Land was down 0.5% after the property company said it sold 12 superstores in its joint venture with supermarket chain J Sainsbury for GBP429 million, reflecting a net initial yield of 5.0%.

The stores have been sold to US-based commercial real estate investment trust Realty Income Corp, with British Land receiving GBP193.5 million in proceeds from the sale.

It has not been disclosed how much Sainsbury's will receive from the deal. Shares in the grocer were up 0.5%.

In the FTSE 250, Travis Perkins was up 3.5% after Merrill Lynch raised the builders' merchant to Buy from Neutral.

The Japanese Nikkei 225 index ended up 0.2%. In China, the Shanghai Composite closed down 0.5%, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong is down 0.4%.

The pound was quoted at USD1.2977 early Tuesday, down from USD1.3004 at the London equities close Thursday.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May is set to chair a meeting of her top ministerial team as MPs return to Westminster following the Easter break.

The prime minister will convene her Cabinet on Tuesday morning while cross-party talks between the government and the Labour Party will resume in a fresh bid to break the Brexit impasse.

Ministerial discussions are expected in the afternoon, with May's de facto deputy David Lidington, Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay and chief whip Julian Smith representing the government.

On Monday it emerged the PM could face an unprecedented vote of confidence in her leadership after 70 local Conservative association chiefs signed a petition in support of a poll. They called for an extraordinary general meeting of the National Conservative Convention to discuss the prime minister's leadership of the party, the Telegraph reported.

The economic events calendar on Tuesday has eurozone consumer confidence at 1500 BST.

By Arvind Bhunjun; arvindbhunjun@alliancenews.com

Copyright 2019 Alliance News Limited. All Rights Reserved

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