Person voting in France
Market relief after far right fail to win majority / Image source: Adobe

Stock prices in London were mildly up after no block in France secured a majority, with the left-wing New Popular Front beating the far right.

Amongst individual stocks, Britvic got a boost, after it backed a £3.3 billion takeover offer from Carlsberg.

The FTSE 100 index opened up just 1.20 points at 8,205.13. The FTSE 250 was up 36.32 points, 0.2%, at 20,822.97, and the AIM All-Share was up 0.03 of a point at 774.42.

The Cboe UK 100 was up 0.2% at 817.04, the Cboe UK 250 was up 0.4% at 18,174.46, and the Cboe Small Companies was up 0.2% at 17,066.39.

In European equities on Monday, the CAC 40 in Paris was up 0.3%, while the DAX 40 in Frankfurt was up 0.4%.

France is in a political limbo, with its left-wing alliance unexpectedly winning the second round of elections.

The left-wing New Popular Front said it has a mandate to govern after it pulled off a surprise win in the second round of the French parliamentary elections on Sunday, with the far right falling to third place, according to initial projections.

The NFP, a new alliance that has brought together Jean-Luc Melenchon’s hard-left La France Insoumise (France Unbowed), the Socialist Party, the Communist Party, the Ecologists and several smaller left-leaning groups, is projected to gain 177 to 198 of the 577 seats in the lower house, or National Assembly.

Melenchon called on Prime Minister Gabriel Attal from President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist camp to go, and not long after his wish seemed to be fulfilled when Attal said he would tender his resignation to Macron on Monday morning.

But the arithmetic is not on the NFP’s side, or indeed on any camp’s: Macron’s centrist alliance came second and is projected to win 152 to 169 seats, down from 245; the far-right National Rally party, which came out on top after the first round, fell to third place, and is expected to take 135 to 145 seats.

In the US on Friday, Wall Street ended higher on Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.2%, the S&P 500 up 0.5% and the Nasdaq Composite up 0.9%.

The S&P and Nasdaq established fresh all-time closing highs as financial markets in New York, which were closed on Thursday for Independence Day, ended the week with a flourish.

The pound was quoted at $1.2816 early on Monday in London, higher compared to $1.2806 at the equities close on Friday. The euro stood at $1.0839, higher against $1.0828. Against the yen, the dollar was trading at JP¥160.88, down compared to JP¥161.70.

In the FTSE 100, Unite Group edged up 1.6%, after it said that demand for its accommodation remains ‘strong’.

The owner and manager of student accommodation said it is confident in achieving 98% to 99% occupancy for the 2024-25 academic year, with 94% of rooms already reserved.

Rental growth is expected to be at least 7%, revised up from previous guidance of 6%.

Chief Executive Joe Lister said: ‘Student demand remains strong from both domestic and international students, reflecting the continued appeal of UK higher education, our fixed-priced, all-inclusive offer and the growing shortage of high-quality student homes.’

On the other end of the index, miners fell. Anglo American, Rio Tinto and Antofagasta were down 1.5%, 1.3%, and 1.2%, respectively.

Oil firms Shell and BP also fell 0.9% and 0.8% each.

Brent oil was quoted at $86.16 a barrel early in London on Monday, down from $87.85 late Friday.

In the FTSE 250, Britvic rose 4.2%, after Calberg put a £3.3 billion offer in for the company.

Britvic, which is a Hemel Hempstead, England-based soft drinks maker, behind brands such as Robinsons squash, said its shareholders will be entitled to receive 1,315 pence for each share.

This includes a special dividend of 25p per Britvic share and represents a 36% premium to Britvic’s closing price of 970p on June 19, being the closing price on the day prior to speculation around a possible offer.

Britvic Non-Executive Chair Ian Durant said: ‘The proposed transaction creates an enlarged international group that is well-placed to capture the growth opportunities in multiple drinks sectors. Crucially, to remain competitive at a time when the market is being shaped by the trend of increasing consolidation among bottling partners, Carlsberg’s agreement with PepsiCo provides the combined group with a strong platform for continued success.’

Ocado jumped 5.4%.

Ocado and Aeon announced the continued expansion of their partnership, with plans to construct a third customer fulfilment centre in Kuki-Miyashiro, the Saitama prefecture of Japan.

Ocado entered an exclusive partnership with Aeon in 2019 to develop the online operations of the Aeon NEXT grocery business using the Ocado Smart Platform.

The new facility is expected to go live in 2027.

Amongst London’s small-caps, Marston’s jumped 20%, after it announced the sale of its remaining non-core brewing assets to create a business entirely focused on pubs.

The Wolverhampton, Midlands-based pub and hotel operator said it will sell its 40% interest in Carlsberg Marston’s to a subsidiary of Carlsberg for £206 million.

It said this will establish a purely focused pub business with a ‘strong position in the UK market and significant opportunities for further growth.’

In Asia on Monday, the Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo was down 0.3%. In China, the Shanghai Composite was down 0.9%, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was down 1.7%. The S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney closed down 0.8%.

Gold was quoted at $2,377.70 an ounce, lower against $2,385.01.

Still to come on Monday’s economic calendar, there is US consumer inflation expectations data.

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Issue Date: 08 Jul 2024