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LONDON MARKET CLOSE: Europe lacks direction on quiet Monday

Mon, 19th Feb 2024 16:51

(Alliance News) - European markets lacked direction on Monday, after a quiet day as the US markets celebrated George Washington's birthday.

The FTSE 100 index closed up 16.79 points, 0.2%, at 7,728.50. The FTSE 250 ended up 24.97 points, 0.1%, at 19,216.90, and the AIM All-Share closed up 2.45 points, 0.3%, at 756.33.

The Cboe UK 100 ended up 0.3% at 773.62, the Cboe UK 250 closed up 0.2% at 16,639.38, and the Cboe Small Companies ended up 0.2% at 14,519.37.

In European equities on Monday, the CAC 40 in Paris ended flat, while the DAX 40 in Frankfurt ended down 0.2%.

Overnight, the People's Bank of China will announce its interest rate decision, with FXStreet-cited consensus expecting the key one-year loan prime rate, which serves as a benchmark for corporate loans, to remain at 3.45%. On Sunday, the PBoC kept the one-year medium-term lending facility rate steady at 2.50%.

"Investors will also monitor developments surrounding additional stimulus measures from Chinese authorities in the coming months," said analysts at XS.com.

Sentiment in China was upbeat on Monday, after the Lunar New Year holiday period.

China's new year holiday spending last week surged past pre-pandemic levels, official figures showed, a rare bright spot for an economy struggling with sluggish consumption and deflation. Domestic spending on entertainment, dining and travel soared during this year's "Golden Week", which officially ended on Saturday, according to a statement from Beijing's Ministry of Culture & Tourism.

The pound was quoted at USD1.2589 at the London equities close Monday, higher compared to USD1.2582 at the close on Friday. The euro stood at USD1.0764 at the European equities close Monday, lower against USD1.0775 at the same time on Friday. Against the yen, the dollar was trading at JPY150.17, up compared to JPY150.13 late Friday.

In the FTSE 100, AstraZeneca rose 2.6%.

The Cambridge-based pharmaceutical announced the purchase back in January. The deal was valued at up to USD1.1 billion for Icosavax, a US-based biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of vaccines against respiratory viruses.

According to AstraZeneca, Icosavax's lead investigational vaccine candidate IVX-A12 is a "potential first-in-class" for targeting both respiratory syncytial virus and human metapneumovirus.

As a result of the acquisition, Icosavax has become a subsidiary of AstraZeneca, with operations in Seattle, US.

Earlier on Monday, AstraZeneca announced new study data and a new approval for its cancer medication Tagrisso.

NatWest lost 2.0%.

The Edinburgh-based bank said it is starting a share buyback programme of up to GBP300 million with a nominal value of around GBP1.08 per share. The programme will run until July 18 latest.

In the FTSE 250, Currys shares closed up 36% at 64.20 pence each.

Chinese e-commerce firm JD.com became the latest to throw its hat in the ring for a possible takeover of the consumer electronics retailer.

JD.com, noting press coverage, said it is mulling an acquisition of Currys. The Telegraph newspaper on Sunday reported JD.com has held early talks with Currys.

JD.com noted that there is no certainty that its interest will result in a bid.

On Sunday, Currys said it rejected a takeover tilt from US private equity firm Elliott Investment Management LP.

Currys said it received an unsolicited proposal worth around GBP702.8 million from Elliott, or 62 pence per share.

Currys said the Elliott bid "significantly undervalued the company and its future prospects".

Bank of Georgia jumped 6.6%, after it snapped up Armenia's Ameriabank.

Following last week's announcement that it was in talks with Ameriabank regarding a potential acquisition, Bank of Georgia confirmed the signing of a conditional agreement to acquire the leading Armenian bank for USD303.6 million.

Bank of Georgia said that the Yerevan-based bank has "an attractive franchise, in an attractive market, with similar characteristics to Georgia".

On London's AIM, SpaceandPeople shares surged 49%.

For the year ended December 31, the provider of retail space expects revenue to be slightly above market expectations. Thanks to a solid performance in the second half, SpaceandPeople estimates that revenue for the full year was around GBP5.8 million, up 23% from GBP4.7 million in 2022.

Brent oil was quoted at USD83.53 a barrel at the London equities close Monday, up from USD82.88 late Friday. Gold was quoted at USD2,013.67 an ounce at the London equities close Monday, up against USD2,009.01 at the close on Friday.

In Tuesday's UK corporate calendar, there will be full year results from Antofagasta, Barclays, and InterContinental Hotels.

The economic calendar for Tuesday an interest rate decision from China overnight, as well as meeting minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia.

By Sophie Rose, Alliance News senior reporter

Comments and questions to newsroom@alliancenews.com

Copyright 2024 Alliance News Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

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