Srceen showing stock market prices
Cyber security firm Darktrace one of day’s biggest movers / Image source: Adobe

London-listed stocks delivered a mixed performance on Monday in a big week for economic data, as the market prepared for Tuesday’s US inflation reading.

The FTSE 100 index closed down 9.49 points, 0.1%, at 7,669.23. The FTSE 250 ended down 71.69 points, 0.4%, at 19,530.09, and the AIM All-Share closed down 2.29 points, 0.3%, at 738.27.

The Cboe UK 100 ended up 0.1% at 767.93, the Cboe UK 250 closed down 0.3% at 16,922.28, and the Cboe Small Companies ended down 0.4% at 14,751.00.

In European equities on Monday, the CAC 40 in Paris ended down 0.1%, while the DAX 40 in Frankfurt ended down 0.4%.

Stocks in New York were lower at the London equities close, with the DJIA down 0.1%, the S&P 500 index down 0.2%, and the Nasdaq Composite down 0.3%.

Focus on Monday has been on this week’s economic data.

On Tuesday’s economic calendar, there is a US inflation reading, which will be released at 1230 GMT. The headline annual US inflation rate is expected to sit unchanged at 3.1% for February, according to FXStreet cited consensus. The core rate of inflation is forecast to ebb to 3.7% from the 3.9% reported for January.

AJ Bell’s Russ Mould said: ‘Tuesday’s inflation report from across the Atlantic will help shape the narrative for markets this week. Any signs inflation is proving more stubborn to shift than expected, even in a deteriorating economic environment, could present the Federal Reserve with something of a conundrum.’

On Thursday last week, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told lawmakers in Washington that the US central bank ‘can and will’ begin cutting interest rates this year if current economic trends continue.

Also in focus this week is a UK unemployment reading at 0700 GMT on Tuesday. UK gross domestic product data follows on Wednesday.

Ebury analyst Matthew Ryan commented: ‘The labour market will continue to show full employment with wage gains above 6%, while the economy is expected to have returned to growth in January.

‘These will be key input to the Bank of England meeting next week.’

The BoE will announce its latest interest rate decision on March 21.

The pound was quoted at $1.2801 at the London equities close Monday, lower compared to $1.2860 at the close on Friday. The euro stood at $1.0923 at the European equities close Monday, down against $1.0949 at the same time on Friday. Against the yen, the dollar was trading at JP¥146.89, lower compared to JP¥147.21 late Friday.

In the FTSE 100, Marks & Spencer rose 1.9%, after RBC upgraded its stock to ’outperform’ from ’sector perform’.

RBC Capital Markets thinks the recent price correction in Marks & Spencer shares provides an ‘attractive opportunity’ for investors.

In the FTSE 250 index, Ferrexpo plummeted 27%, after it said it had taken steps to settle debt a company claims its Ukraine subsidiary owes.

Ferrexpo is a Baar, Switzerland-based iron ore pellet producer with operations in Ukraine.

The company said Kysen, a supplier to its subsidiary Ferrexpo Poltava Mining, is seeking creditor protection proceedings against the company.

The amount of debt claimed by Kysen is UAH2.2 million, or $58,000, Ferrexpo said. Court proceedings are scheduled to start this week.

‘Given restrictions with the operation of FPM’s bank accounts in Ukraine, and the nature of the payment that is being made to settle the debt, FPM is not able to provide assurance now that funds will be received in a timely manner and for that reason FPM is, in parallel, also seeking to agree an extension of payment terms,’ Ferrexpo noted.

On the flipside, Darktrace shares jumped 16%. The cybersecurity firm was the best FTSE 250-listed performer, extending its winning streak to five days.

The cybersecurity company reported its interim results last Thursday, where it upped its full-year sales guidance as a result.

Amongst London’s small-caps, Vanquis Banking plummeted 50%.

On Monday, the lender faced a new threat as the unwanted attentions of a claims management company prompted the company to issue a profits warning.

It said income and pretax profit in 2024 would be substantially below market expectations as it deals with a flood of increased claims across the business. Vanquis also intends to slash its dividend.

Analysts at Panmure Gordon said this is the last thing that ‘long-suffering’ shareholders needed, although it expressed ‘sympathy’ with the company as it is not ‘entirely’ its own fault.

On AIM, LoopUp shares dropped 68%, after it announced its intention to relist as a private company and launch a fundraise.

The cloud platform explained that it needs to raise £9 million to service its outstanding debt of about £6.0 million with the Bank of Ireland and to ‘capitalise on the opportunity for [our] Multinational Cloud Telephony business’.

Having ‘extensively reviewed and evaluated the benefits and drawbacks’ of maintaining its current listing, LoopUp said it does not believe that the necessary £9 million fundraise would be possible through public markets.

Brent oil was quoted at $82.36 a barrel at the London equities close Monday, up from $81.72 late Friday. Gold was quoted at $2,184.09 an ounce at the London equities close Monday, higher against $2,174.74 at the close on Friday.

In Tuesday’s UK corporate calendar, there are full-year results from housebuilder Persimmon, as well as Domino’s Pizza.

As well as the UK unemployment data and US inflation reading on Tuesday, there is a CPI read for Germany.

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Issue Date: 11 Mar 2024