UK shares climb led by mid-cap and consumer stocks / Image Source: Adobe

Stock prices in London opened higher on Monday, ahead of the UK general election on Thursday and amid news that UK house prices grew in June.

The CAC 40 in Paris was outperforming other major indices in Europe, amid news that the far right secured a lead in the first round of polling in France.

The FTSE 100 index opened up 30.00 points, 0.4%, at 8,194.12. The FTSE 250 was up 120.42 points, 0.6%, at 20,406.45, and the AIM All-Share was up 2.52 points, 0.3%, at 766.90.

The Cboe UK 100 was up 0.2% at 815.57, the Cboe UK 250 was up 0.8% at 17,761.94, and the Cboe Small Companies was up 0.1% at 16,870.94.

In European equities on Monday, the CAC 40 in Paris was up 2.8%, while the DAX 40 in Frankfurt was up 1.0%.

The main focus of the week in Europe is politics, notably in the UK and France.

French voters propelled the far-right National Rally to a strong lead in first-round legislative elections on Sunday and plunged the country into political uncertainty, according to polling projections on Sunday.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who called the surprise elections just three weeks ago, urged voters to rally against the far right in the second round of balloting.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen called on voters to give the National Rally an ‘absolute majority’ at parliament.

The UK also has its own election to contend with, with Brits heading to polling stations on Thursday.

‘A Labour win is seen as a net positive for financial markets, and would benefit to banks, homebuilders and groceries the most according to JP Morgan. A Labour [win] should also benefit to the British pound in the long run on hope of improved relations with Europe post-Brexit. In the short run, however, a Labour win is broadly priced in. Therefore the return of the Bank of England (BoE) doves following the election could keep the pound’s upside potential limited,’ said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote Bank.

The pound was quoted at $1.2671 early on Monday in London, higher compared to $1.2639 at the equities close on Friday. The euro stood at $1.0758, up against $1.0713. Against the yen, the dollar was trading at JP¥161.05, higher compared to JP¥160.88.

Also on Monday, investors are digesting the latest Nationwide house price index data.

The Nationwide house price index showed a 0.2% increase in seasonally adjusted UK house prices in June, following a 0.4% jump a month earlier.

In June, the average UK house price stood at £266,604, compared to £264,249 in May.

Annually, the house price index rose by 1.5%, picking up speed from 1.3% in May.

‘Although house prices rose slightly in June, an earlier dip means they were flat on the quarter in Q2. With signs mortgage rates are causing demand to falter and that supply is improving, we think that house prices will flatline at best over the coming months,’ said Andrew Wishart at Capital Economics.

London’s housebuilders got a boost on the back of the data. Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon were both up 1.5%. Barratt Developments jumped 1.7%.

On the other hand, Anglo American took a hit early Monday, falling 3.6% to the bottom of the FTSE 100 index.

The miner suspended production at Grosvenor steelmaking coal mine in Queensland, Australia following an underground gas incident over the weekend.

Anglo American said it will provide steelmaking coal production guidance ‘once more information is available’, and indicated that assessment of the incident may take several months as a result of the likely damage underground.

It suspended production at its Grosvenor, following an underground coal gas ignition incident on Saturday.

On London’s AIM, Echo Energy jumped 30%.

It said its wholly owned subsidiary, Echo Natural Resources, has entered into a shareholders joint venture agreement in Peru with the founding partners of Boku Resources.

In Asia on Monday, the Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo was up 0.1%. In China, the Shanghai Composite was up 0.9%, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was up marginally. The S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney closed down 0.2%.

In the US on Friday, Wall Street ended lower, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 0.1%, the S&P 500 down 0.4% and the Nasdaq Composite down 0.7%.

Brent oil was quoted at $85.60 a barrel early in London on Monday, up from $84.84 late Friday.

Gold was quoted at $2,324.50 an ounce, lower against $2,326.14.

Still to come on Monday’s economic calendar, there is a slew of manufacturing purchasing managers’ index readings, include the eurozone at 0900 BST, the UK at 0930 and the US at 1445.

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Issue Date: 01 Jul 2024