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Pin to quick picksBeazley Share News (BEZ)

Share Price Information for Beazley (BEZ)

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Share Price: 676.00
Bid: 677.00
Ask: 677.50
Change: -3.50 (-0.52%)
Spread: 0.50 (0.074%)
Open: 679.50
High: 681.50
Low: 666.50
Prev. Close: 679.50
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London close: Stocks finish firmer as US jobless claims rise

Thu, 07th Mar 2024 15:29

(Sharecast News) - London markets closed with modest gains on Thursday, after higher-than-expected jobless claims figures from the US, and a flurry of corporate news in the UK.

The FTSE 100 index edged up 0.17% to reach 7,692.46, while the FTSE 250 performed even better, rising by 0.57% to 19,583.98.

In currency markets, sterling was last up 0.46% on the dollar to trade at $1.2789, while it saw a more modest increase of 0.15% against the euro to change hands at €1.1698.

"The gold rally to yet another record high is on track for its seventh consecutive day of gains as investors continue to buy the precious metal," said IG senior market analyst Axel Rudolph.

"Meanwhile, European and US stock indices have resumed their ascents while the US dollar remains under pressure as Fed chairman Jerome Powell ended his two-day testimony to Congress by saying that if the US economy does as expected the Fed will consider 'carefully removing' its restrictive stance.

"All eyes are now on Friday's US non-farm payrolls."

Rudolph added that the yen continued to appreciate rapidly as the odds of seeing the Bank of Japan's first rate hike since 2006 at its March meeting had risen close to 50%.

"In Europe, the ECB kept its rates on hold in line with expectations but cut its growth and inflation projections.

"Oil and gas prices dipped, though, while Chicago wheat prices stemmed their steep near 10% decline from last week's highs at three-and-a-half-year lows."

US jobless claims rise faster than expected, UK house prices rise

In economic news, the United States saw a faster-than-anticipated surge in unemployment benefit claims, according to the Labor Department.

Initial jobless claims remained unchanged from last week's revised figure of 217,000, surpassing analyst predictions.

Continuing claims also climbed, reaching 1.9 million, marking the highest level since November.

Meanwhile, US inflationary pressures eased as labour productivity increased by 3.2% over the last quarter of 2023, slightly surpassing expectations.

However, unit labour costs rose 0.4%, lower than consensus estimates.

On home shores, UK house prices continued their upward trajectory for the fifth consecutive month in February, albeit at a slower pace.

According to Halifax, prices rose 0.4% on the month, marking the smallest increase since September.

Year-on-year, house prices were up by 1.7%.

Kim Kinnaird, director of Halifax Mortgages, said the figures continued to suggest a relatively stable start to 2024 and aligned with other promising signs of increased housing activity, such as mortgage approvals.

"In fact, the average price tag of a home is now only around £1,800 off the peak seen in June 2022," she said.

"While it is encouraging that we've seen growth in recent months, what happens next remains uncertain.

"Although lower mortgage rates, alongside expectations of Bank of England interest rate cuts this year, should help buyer confidence in the short term, the downward trend on rates is showing signs of fading."

Elsewhere, a Bank of England survey revealed that UK businesses anticipated a moderation in output inflation over the coming year.

Despite a slight dip in employment growth, wage growth remained stable at 6.7% in February.

In the eurozone, the European Central Bank left interest rates unchanged as it revised down growth and inflation forecasts.

The ECB said it now expected economic growth of 0.6% for the year, with inflation forecast at 2.3%.

Finally on data, China reported a robust increase in exports for January and February, surpassing expectations.

Exports surged by 7.1%, exceeding estimates of a 1.9% rise, amidst the nation's emergence from stringent and lengthy Covid-19 restrictions.

Entain falls on results, Virgin Money rockets on takeover news

On London's equity markets, Ladbrokes owner Entain fell 3.58% despite reporting full-year results in line with expectations.

The company highlighted reaching £1bn in underlying earnings and record-high online customers, but cautioned investors about the significant impact of regulatory changes, which were expected to dampen profits in 2024.

Melrose Industries faced a downturn of 2.8%, despite lifting its profit outlook for the year and posting a substantial increase in 2023 profit.

HSBC Holdings fell by 3.48% as it traded without entitlement to the dividend.

On the upside, Rentokil Initial surged 17.67% following a rise in full-year profit and revenue, attributed to the acquisition of Terminix in the US.

Spirax-Sarco Engineering rose 6.38% after expressing confidence in its ability to return to growth in 2024.

Tyman reversed earlier losses to close up 0.51% after acknowledging a challenging market outlook for the building sector in 2023.

Aviva rose 1.6% as it announced a £300m share buyback and reported a better-than-expected 9% increase in full-year earnings, driven by a strong surge in general insurance premiums.

Beazley saw a slight increase of 0.15% after it revealed plans to return cash to shareholders following annual profits surpassing $1bn.

Virgin Money UK skyrocketed 34.99% after agreeing to be acquired by Nationwide Building Society in a £2.9bn deal, with Virgin shareholders set to receive a 38% premium on the closing share price on Wednesday.

ITV gained 12.17% after it reported a 41% decline in annual profits, attributed to weak ad revenues offsetting a record performance from its studios unit.

Reporting by Josh White for

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,692.46 0.17%

FTSE 250 (MCX) 19,583.98 0.57%

techMARK (TASX) 4,538.70 0.62%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Rentokil Initial (RTO) 504.20p 17.67%

Anglo American (AAL) 1,857.40p 5.09%

Ocado Group (OCDO) 458.30p 4.66%

Spirax-Sarco Engineering (SPX) 10,660.00p 3.80%

Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,797.50p 3.22%

Smith (DS) (SMDS) 325.20p 2.98%

Convatec Group (CTEC) 275.60p 2.91%

Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 390.00p 2.90%

Prudential (PRU) 781.20p 2.90%

Croda International (CRDA) 4,816.00p 2.84%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Entain (ENT) 790.00p -4.87%

HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 590.70p -3.48%

Airtel Africa (AAF) 94.40p -2.68%

Melrose Industries (MRO) 617.40p -2.31%

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 8,154.00p -2.04%

Rio Tinto (RIO) 4,975.50p -1.96%

Admiral Group (ADM) 2,612.00p -1.95%

Standard Chartered (STAN) 664.40p -1.95%

Compass Group (CPG) 2,152.00p -1.60%

Next (NXT) 8,320.00p -1.14%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Virgin Money UK (VMUK) 214.70p 34.99%

ITV (ITV) 68.38p 12.17%

Coats Group (COA) 76.40p 11.37%

Darktrace (DARK) 373.70p 6.16%

Domino's Pizza Group (DOM) 367.60p 5.09%

Keller Group (KLR) 1,006.00p 3.93%

Just Group (JUST) 89.20p 3.72%

Oxford Instruments (OXIG) 2,205.00p 3.28%

BlackRock World Mining Trust (BRWM) 517.00p 2.99%

Close Brothers Group (CBG) 389.80p 2.90%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Quilter (QLT) 98.25p -5.75%

Lancashire Holdings Limited (LRE) 640.50p -4.40%

Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited NPV (SONG) 61.00p -3.94%

Assura (AGR) 41.58p -3.03%

Safestore Holdings (SAFE) 759.50p -2.44%

PureTech Health (PRTC) 193.20p -2.42%

Babcock International Group (BAB) 508.00p -2.12%

Plus500 Ltd (DI) (PLUS) 1,766.00p -2.05%

Octopus Renewables Infrastructure Trust (ORIT) 82.20p -2.03%

TI Fluid Systems (TIFS) 156.40p -2.01%

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