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ADVFN Morning London Market Report: Thursday 24 February 2022

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London open: Stocks tank, oil surges as Russia invades Ukraine

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London stocks tumbled in early trade on Thursday after Russia invaded Ukraine, with oil and gold both sharply higher.

At 0855 GMT, the FTSE 100 was down 2.3% at 7,328.86, while Brent crude topped $103 a barrel.

Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, said: 2There was an air of complacency yesterday as investors hoped that Russia’s incursions would be limited. That fragile hope has been shattered a Russian forces moved in overnight, apparently on all fronts. Putin delivered a TV address calling to ‘de-Nazify’ Ukraine and demanded their forces lay down their arms. He also demanded Ukraine demilitarised. Looks like a move for blitzkrieg to install a Kremlin puppet regime.

“The West is following up with more severe sanctions…but it’s hard to think these can work now the die is cast. Another spectacular foreign policy failure by Biden…a new era for the security order not just for Europe but everywhere. China can look to Taiwan.”

Unsurprisingly, Russian steelmaker Evraz and Anglo-Russian precious metals miner Polymetal tanked.

Although there was an avalanche of earnings news for investors to sink their teeth into, with all eyes on the Russia-Ukraine crisis positive earnings had no impact.

Rolls-Royce was under the cosh after the engine maker said chief executive Warren East would leave at the end of 2022 and that it swung to an annual operating profit.

Lloyds Banking Group was sharply lower even as it announced a £2bn share buyback as rising revenue and a writeback of bad debts caused annual profit to surge, while advertising giant WPP slid despite encouraging results.

On the upside, precious metals miners FresnilloHochschild and Centamin all shone, with gold prices above $1,940 an ounce as investors piled into safe haven assets.

BAE Systems was also in the black after it reported a rise in full-year earnings and struck an upbeat note on the outlook. The fact it’s a defence company probably didn’t hurt.

 

Top 10 FTSE 100 Risers

# Name Change Pct Change Cur Price
1 Fresnillo Plc +2.91% +20.00 708.20
2 Bae Systems Plc +1.46% +8.80 609.60
3 Anglo American Plc +0.82% +29.00 3,561.50
4 Segro Plc +0.44% +5.50 1,253.50
5 Bunzl Plc +0.07% +2.00 2,740.00
6 Kingfisher Plc +0.03% +0.10 295.70
7 Morrison (wm) Supermarkets Plc +0.00% +0.00 286.40
8 Rsa Insurance Group Ld +0.00% +0.00 684.20
9 Royal Bank Of Scotland Group Plc +0.00% +0.00 120.90
10 Shell Plc +0.00% +0.00 1,895.20

 

Top 10 FTSE 100 Fallers

# Name Change Pct Change Cur Price
1 Evraz Plc -29.45% -72.45 173.55
2 Rolls-royce Holdings Plc -13.02% -15.32 102.38
3 Lloyds Banking Group Plc -8.16% -4.26 47.94
4 Hikma Pharmaceuticals Plc -7.00% -141.00 1,872.00
5 Bhp Group Limited -6.83% -173.00 2,359.50
6 Wpp Plc -5.91% -69.50 1,107.00
7 Carnival Plc -5.06% -71.80 1,346.40
8 Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Plc -5.00% -48.00 912.80
9 Hargreaves Lansdown Plc -4.90% -55.00 1,067.50
10 Standard Chartered Plc -4.80% -27.60 547.40

 

US close: Stocks weaker as sanctions on Russia begin

Wall Street stocks closed in negative territory on Wednesday, as investors reacted to Washington’s imposing of the first round of sanctions on Moscow, after Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered troops into rebel-held areas of eastern Ukraine.

At the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.38% at 33,131,76, as the S&P 500 lost 1.84% to 4,225.50, and the Nasdaq Composite was 2.57% weaker at 13,037.49.

The Dow closed 464.85 points lower on Wednesday, adding to losses recorded in the previous session amid escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

In response to Russia’s move to recognise breakaway regions in Ukraine, US president Joe Biden announced a first wave of sanctions against Moscow late on Tuesday, taking aim at Russian banks, the country’s sovereign debt and three particular individuals.

In addition, the US was also coordinating with Germany to ensure that the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany would not become operational.

“As well as coping with the actual conflict itself, should it come, investors have to worry about headline risk in the form of retaliatory sanctions from the Russian side and further sanctions on Moscow by the West,” said IG chief market analyst Chris Beauchamp.

“For a market that was already worrying about how interest rate rises and higher inflation would hit growth, the prospect of more sanctions and a fresh hit to economic growth mean that equity valuations are still being called into question.”

On the macro front, mortgage applications in the US sank 13.1% in the week ended 18 February to the lowest level since December 2019, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The fall was also the biggest since April 2020 and comes amid rising interest rates, low inventory and high purchasing prices.

Applications to refinance a mortgage declined 15.6%, while ones to purchase a home dropped 10.1% as fixed 30-year mortgage rates increased one basis point to 4.06%.

In the corporate space, alcoholic drinks manufacturer Molson Coors was up 4.57% after it served up double-digit top and bottom-line growth and raised its quarterly dividend by 12%, while home retail giant Lowe’s Companies eked out gains of 0.23% after it beat earnings forecasts as quarterly sales rose 5%.

Reopening plays featured on the downside, with American Airlines reversing earlier gains to fall 4.53% and Norwegian Cruise Line was 5.26% weaker.

Netflix slid 2.63% and Facebook owner Meta Platforms was off 1.8% – both having also opened in the green earlier.

 

Thursday newspaper round-up: North Sea drilling, Ikea, Studio Retail

The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, will say he wants to cut taxes “sustainably” and downgrade the role played by the state as an engine of growth, in a landmark speech that aims to quell concern among Tory backbenchers about the tax burden rising to its highest level in 70 years. Spelling out a personal philosophy on Thursday in his first major speech since Downing Street scandals opened the door for a change of leadership at the top of the Conservative party, Sunak will say only a market economy, driven by private sector spending, will create the dynamism needed to maintain sustainable growth. – Guardian

The prospects for an expansion of oil and gas drilling in the North Sea have cleared a major hurdle, as the Committee on Climate Change said “stringent tests” must be applied to any new exploration licences but stopped short of saying they could not be issued. New drilling would not reduce energy bills for UK consumers, the committee found, and its chair, former Conservative environment secretary Lord Deben, said he would “favour” a moratorium on North Sea exploration. – Guardian

Ikea will invest £1bn in London over the next three years as it opens its first city-centre shopping centre. The Swedish retail giant, known for flat-pack furniture and meatballs, has changed tack in recent years to focus on smaller, urban locations rather than just vast, out-of-town sites as consumers alter their shopping patterns. The £170m Livat shopping centre, previously the Kings Mall in Hammersmith, opens on Thursday and features Ikea’s first small store in the UK as it seeks to become more “accessible” to customers. – Telegraph

The Serious Fraud Office has begun a criminal investigation into Arena Television, the collapsed outside broadcaster accused of borrowing £280 million against thousands of non-existent assets. In action taken in conjunction with the National Crime Agency, two arrests were made and three properties were searched yesterday as agencies seek to build evidence of what is alleged to be one of the biggest scams to hit Britain’s asset-based lending industry. – The Times

About 1,400 jobs have been put at risk after Studio Retail, the online retailer, formally appointed the administrators Teneo last night to handle its collapse. The company formerly known as Findel stunned the City last week after suspending its shares, saying its request for a short-term £25 million working capital loan had been turned down by its bank, HSBC. – The Times

 

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