London markets close in red as cold weather stokes gas prices

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ondon’s markets were trimmed back after falls in the Asian markets and a sharp rise in natural gas prices.

Freezing temperatures in the UK were met by the markets with a sharp rise in gas prices, after a broadly moderate autumn and start of winter had kept a lid on pricing and eased concerns over gas storage levels.

The FTSE 100 finished the day down 30.66 points, or 0.41%, at 7,445.97.

Across the channel, the other major European markets acted similarly, with a cooldown in Chinese sentiment also impacting trading.

The German Dax declined 0.36% by the end of the session and the French Cac finished 0.27% lower.

Joshua Mahoney, senior market analyst at IG, said: “European markets have suffered the same fate as their Asian counterparts today, with Friday’s US sell-off finally catching up with markets elsewhere around the world.

“Improved sentiment around Chinese efforts to reopen appear to be swiftly faltering, with concerns over a dramatic surge in Covid cases bringing the potential for further restrictions and protests.

“The recent volatility in crude oil highlights the ongoing questions over whether the Chinese economy is truly ready to return or on the cusp of yet another series of restrictions.”

In the US, Wall Street rebounded from Friday’s losses ahead of a key set of CPI inflation figures on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, sterling was down marginally against the dollar despite the latest GDP figures showing a rebound in October, as the UK still looks likely to enter a recession.

The pound was down 0.07% against the dollar at 1.225, but was 0.07% higher against the euro at 1.164 at the close.

In company news, London Stock Exchange Group finished higher after Microsoft agreed to snap up a 4% stake from the Blackstone/Thomson Reuters Consortium.

As part of a 10-year partnership, the two firms will work together to jointly develop new products and services for data and analytics using its Microsoft Azure, AI and Teams platforms.

Shares in LSEG climbed 220p higher to 7,626p as a result.

Metro Bank also made strong gains on Monday despite being fined £10 million by the UK’s financial regulator for knowingly publishing incorrect information to investors in 2018.

Two of the challenger bank’s former bosses, chief executive Craig Donaldson and chief financial officer David Arden, have been given individual fines of £223,100 and £134,600 respectively by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Nevertheless, shares closed 6.6p higher at 112.6p.

Royal Mail owner International Distributions Services slid lower after brokers at HSBC cut their valuation of the stock.

IDS shares closed 8.3p lower at 204.3p after the downgrade, which comes ahead of planned strikes by Royal Mail postal workers later this week.

The price of oil moved higher after hitting new lows for the year at the end of last week.

Brent crude oil increased by 2.44% to 77.96 US dollars per barrel when the London markets closed.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were LSEG, up 220p at 7,626p, Dechra Pharmaceuticals, up 40p at 2,758p, Harbour Energy, up 4.3p at 306.4p, Experian up 29p at 2,924p, and Haleon, up 3p at 317.6p.

The biggest fallers of the session were Frasers Group, down 29.5p at 753p, Fresnillo, down 28.2p at 845.8p, Endeavour, down 52p at 1,672p, Prudential, down 29.5p at 1,061p, and Rio Tinto, down 156p at 5,679p.

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