FTSE 100 and UK flag
Stocks in London were marginally higher on Friday morning as election campaigns in the UK and France continued / Image source: Adobe

Stocks in London were marginally higher on Friday morning, as election campaigns in the UK and France continue, with Reform UK overtaking the Conservatives in the UK in a major opinion poll.

The FTSE 100 index opened up 2.07 points at 8,165.74. The FTSE 250 was up 7.97 points at 20,203.92, and the AIM All-Share was up 0.63 of a point, 0.1%, at 781.06.

The Cboe UK 100 was up marginally at 812.48, the Cboe UK 250 was down 0.3% at 17,626.67, and the Cboe Small Companies was up 0.1% at 16,743.79.

In European equities on Friday, the CAC 40 in Paris was down 1.0%, while the DAX 40 in Frankfurt was down 0.2%.

In political news, Reform UK has overtaken the Conservatives in a major opinion poll, as UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak continues his absence from the general election campaign trail to meet world leaders in Italy.

A YouGov survey commissioned by the Times newspaper had Nigel Farage’s party at 19% to the Conservatives 18% in voting intention, in a crossover moment which is the latest blow to Tory hopes of returning to government.

Markets in France continued to take a hit, too, as its own election picked up.

Away from the Europe, the Bank of Japan on Friday said it would trim its vast hoard of government bonds as it cautiously steps away from its long-running ultra-loose monetary policy.

The central bank kept interest rates unchanged after a two-day meeting but announced plans to ‘reduce its purchase amount of JGBs (Japanese Government Bonds) thereafter to ensure that long-term interest rates would be formed more freely’.

‘A detailed plan’ for the reduction ‘during the next one to two years or so’ will be decided at the next policy meeting in July, it said.

‘The question for investors is why did they wait a month and not start tapering today, is there that much difference? The answer is most likely an abundance of caution at the BOJ. The cautious stance is clear when it comes to bond buying, however, the BOJ was also expected to hike interest rates at its meeting in July. We doubt that the BOJ will hike rates and embark on QT in the same month,’ said Kathleen Brooks at XTB.

In the aftermath, the yen fell, but the Nikkei rose.

Against the yen, the dollar was trading at JP¥158.03 early Friday, up compared to JP¥156.88 at the equities close on Thursday. The Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo was up 0.2%.

The pound was quoted at $1.2728 early on Friday in London, lower compared to $1.2764 at the equities close on Thursday. The euro stood at $1.0718, down against $1.0763.

In the FTSE 100, Tesco edged up 0.3%.

The grocer said like-for-like sales in the 13 weeks to May 25, the financial first quarter, rose 3.4% to £15.31 billion. The UK outperformed with comparable sales up 4.6% to £11.4 billion. Booker sales fell 1.3%, Central Europe sales rose 0.6% while in the Republic of Ireland sales climbed 4.4%.

Charlie Huggins at Wealth Club said: ‘This is another solid trading update from Tesco with further volume growth and market share gains in the first quarter. The group is more than holding its own against the German discounters and carries good momentum into the upcoming summer of sport.’

In the FTSE 250, Crest Nicholson rose 9.9%, whilst Bellway fell 2.9%.

On Thursday, Bellway made a new takeover proposal for Crest, but said it had been rejected.

Bellway said under the terms of the bid, Crest Nicholson investors would have stood to receive 0.093 of a Bellway share for each Crest Nicholson share. It valued Crest Nicholson shares at 253.00 pence each, the company’s equity overall at around £650.0 million.

On Friday, Crest confirmed that it has rejected the offer, as it undervalues the company.

‘Crest Nicholson remains confident in its standalone prospects, in particular given conclusion of the review of provisions for completed development sites supported by external consultants, its highly attractive land portfolio and the new leadership of Martyn Clark,’ Crest said.

Elsewhere in London, Raspberry Pi shares jumped 15%, hitting 471.90 pence. The early high represents a more than 70% premium on the firm’s initial public offering price earlier this week.

The shares had already surged 47% in the three days since hitting the market on Tuesday, but until this morning trading the stock was conditional, meaning that it was only available to institutional shareholders.

In the US on Thursday, Wall Street ended mixed, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 0.2%, whilst the S&P 500 was up 0.2% and the Nasdaq Composite up 0.3%.

In China, the Shanghai Composite was up 0.1%, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was down 0.8%. The S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney closed down 0.3%.

Brent oil was quoted at $82.45 a barrel early in London on Friday, down from $82.53 late Thursday. Gold was quoted at $2,312.10 an ounce, higher against $2,307.79.

Still to come on Friday’s economic calendar, there is eurozone trade data at 1000 BST.

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Issue Date: 14 Jun 2024