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LONDON MARKET MIDDAY: FTSE 100 advances in subdued session; pound lags

Mon, 24th May 2021 12:06

(Alliance News) - Stocks in London continued to trade modestly higher on Monday in a muted session with a handful of European markets shut.

The FTSE 100 index was up 20.96 points, or 0.3%, at 7,039.01 at midday on Monday. The mid-cap FTSE 250 index was up 31.30 points, or 0.1%, at 22,430.72. The AIM All-Share index was up 0.2% at 1,251.68.

The Cboe UK 100 index was up 0.3% at 701.74. The Cboe 250 was up 0.1% at 20,167.59, and the Cboe Small Companies up 0.1% at 14,884.47.

The trade was subdued in London on Monday with some European markets, such as in Germany and Switzerland, closed. Paris was open, however, and the CAC 40 was up 0.1% in early afternoon trade.

"The FTSE 100 made sedate progress on Monday morning, although you would imagine investors would take that after something of a wild ride last week driven by inflation fears and a bitcoin crash," said AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould.

While Monday's economy calendar is quiet, following recent turbulence driven by inflation prints out of the US and Europe, things pick up later this week with German GDP on Tuesday and US economic growth figures on Thursday.

Ahead of the opening bell on Monday, Wall Street was pointed to a higher open. The Dow Jones is set to rise 0.4%, the S&P 500 called up 0.5% and the Nasdaq Composite on course for a 0.7% climb.

"The UK's flagship index traded higher despite miners' share prices being pulled down by falling iron ore prices as Chinese authorities warn of excessive speculation," AJ Bell's Mould noted.

Antofagasta shares were down 1.5%, BHP Group down 0.5% and Rio Tinto 0.1% lower.

However, gold and oil prices were faring well on Monday. Precious metal gold was quoted at USD1,881.76 an ounce on Monday, higher than USD1,875.10 on Friday as it benefited from a weaker dollar.

Brent oil traded at USD67.71 a barrel at midday, up from USD66.64 late Friday.

"Stocks are in green as risk appetite remains dominant on markets. Moreover, the US dollar is declining. All this is creating the perfect environment for oil, with both the WTI and Brent benchmarks gaining over 1%. Despite some temporary corrections the main trend still appears positive," said Carlo Alberto De Casa, chief analyst at ActivTrades.

The US dollar was mostly higher at the start of the week, with the pound underperforming.

The euro traded at USD1.2214 on Monday, firm against USD1.2186 late Friday. Against the yen, the dollar fell to JPY108.89 versus JPY108.94.

Sterling was quoted at USD1.4128 midday Monday, lower than USD1.4169 at the London equities close on Friday. Traders are eyeing the appearance of Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey before the Treasury Select Committee at 1530 BST.

Back in London, FTSE 250-listed Cineworld rose 3.5% on a "strong" re-opening weekend in the UK.

"This weekend's performance went beyond our expectations as customers were eager to return to the movies and enjoy the full movie experience, including the traditional popcorn which led to strong concession income," the cinema operator said.

While outdoor hospitality was able to re-open in England on April 12, indoor entertainment, such as cinemas and museums, were only able to resume business on Monday last week.

In the US, 97% of cinemas have resumed operations, Cineworld said. In its Rest of World region, Poland and Israel will be opening at the end of the coming week and most will be open by the end of May, Cineworld said.

"With the releases next week of 'Cruella', and 'A Quiet Place 2', we expect next weekend's results to be strong. When combined with improving consumer confidence and the success of the vaccination rollout, we expect a good recovery in attendance over the coming months," said Chief Executive Mooky Greidinger.

Cineworld's update comes after the chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency over the weekend said the possibility of all coronavirus restrictions being lifted next month is "looking good".

Under the government's road map, the final stage of the unlocking is due to take place on June 21 at the earliest. From that date at the earliest, nightclubs are due to reopen and restrictions on large events such as festivals are to be lifted, as are restrictions on the number of people at weddings.

However, Jenny Harries urged the public to be cautious to avoid another lockdown, warning that the new Indian variant has become the "dominant strain" in some parts of the country.

Positively, a study by Public Health England found that the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine is 88% effective against the Indian variant after two doses. Health Secretary Matt Hancock described the outcome as "groundbreaking", while PHE said it expects to see even higher levels of effectiveness against hospital admission and death.

Biffa rose 1.4% after Peel Hunt upgraded the stock to Add from Hold.

Energean fell 3.5%. The exploration and production company raised its annual output guidance but pushed back its forecast for first production at its Karish asset as Covid-19 restrictions in Singapore have tightened again.

The firm now expects first output at Karish in mid-2022. "Enhanced Covid-19-related restrictions in Singapore" have been reintroduced. The asset is located in Israel, but a floating production storage and offloading unit for the asset must set sail from Singapore. Energean previously expected first gas at the project between the fourth quarter of 2021 and start of 2022.

By Lucy Heming; lucyheming@alliancenews.com

Copyright 2021 Alliance News Limited. All Rights Reserved.

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