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London close: Stocks weaker on ongoing Omicron concerns

By Josh White

Date: Thursday 02 Dec 2021

London close: Stocks weaker on ongoing Omicron concerns

(Sharecast News) - London stocks closed below the waterline on Thursday, as concerns about the new Omicron Covid variant and potential rate hikes weighed on investors' minds.
The FTSE 100 ended the session down 0.55% at 7,129.21, and the FTSE 250 was off 0.99% at 22,684.84.

Sterling was in the green, meanwhile, last trading up 0.23% on the dollar at $1.3310, and gaining 0.4% against the euro to change hands at €1.1777.

"The FTSE 100 has rallied some 60 points off its low of the day however, as losses in some heavyweight names are trimmed," said IG senior market analyst Joshua Mahony.

"But what is clear is that the see-saw week is still with us; swings in risk appetite have been dramatic and rapid over the past few sessions, and with the VIX still at an elevated level, and rallying further today, it looks like the hard-fought battle between buyers and sellers still has a way to go.

"Broadly, the market is still worrying about the Omicrom variant and how it will affect Fed policy, and the interaction of these two issues has provided the fertile soil necessary for the recent selloff."

Across the pond, US jobless claims rebounded a little following a steep drop during the previous week that saw them fall to a level not seen since November 1969.

According to the Department of Labor, in seasonally adjusted terms, the number of people filing for initial unemployment claims rose by 28,000 over the week ending on 27 November to reach 222,000.

Economists had pencilled in an increase to reach 240,000.

On the energy front, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies surprised some oil traders with their decision to go ahead with a previously-planned output hike in January, despite the appearance of Omicron.

As agreed at their meeting on 18 July, OPEC+ said member countries would "adjust" their combined output higher by a further 400,000 barrels a day in January.

However, the ministerial meeting "shall remain in session pending further developments of the pandemic and continue to monitor the market closely and make immediate adjustments if required," OPEC said in a statement.

On home shores, footfall at UK retail destinations fell in November but was still a "much improved" result when compared to July, when footfall was 24.2% below 2019 levels.

Retail footfall in November slipped 14.5% from 2019, compared to October's 13.4% decline, with footfall declining 15.8% on high streets, 22% in shopping centres and 3.6% in retail parks when compared to pre-Covid comparatives.

According to retail analyst Springboard, the "relatively poor uplift in footfall" in the last week of the month, Black Friday week, impacted the month as a whole, with footfall moving from being down 12.4% in the third week to 17% in week four as Black Friday was weaker than anticipated in all three destination types.

On high streets, footfall over Black Friday declined from the previous week for the first time since the shopping event came to the UK.

In equity markets, financial services platform AJ Bell slumped 8.6% even after it lifted its dividend and announced a special payout to shareholders as it increased annual profits by 13%.

Abrdn was down 3.77% after the asset manager confirmed it had agreed to buy subscription-based investment platform Interactive Investor for £1.49bn in cash.

Aston Martin Lagonda fell 8.05% after it said Kenneth Gregor would step down as chief financial officer and as an executive director by 30 June 2022, for personal reasons.

Cybersecurity firm Darktrace tumbled 8.98% as it emerged it would be relegated to the FTSE 250 in the next quarterly reshuffle.

Royal Mail slid 4.85%, 3i Group lost 2.34%, Ninety One was off 2.86%, Johnson Matthey slipped 2.16%, Bellway was 1.45% weaker, and Pets at Home was 1.15% lower as they all traded without entitlement to the dividend.

On the upside, British Airways and Iberia parent IAG managed gains of 0.45%, along with budget airlines easyJet and Wizz Air, which ascended 2.55% and 0.92%, respectively.

Oil giants BP and Shell gushed 1.11% and 1.33% higher, amid firmer oil prices and the news from OPEC+.

Auction Technology leapt 13.46% after it said full-year results were ahead of expectations, with revenue up 34%.

Workspace Group gained 3.6% after an upgrade to 'buy' from 'neutral' at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Telecommunications company BT Group was in the black by 1.62% amid ongoing bid speculation.

Outsourcer Serco advanced 1.2% despite warning of lower revenue and profit in 2022, as it expects "a rapid wind-down" of Covid-19 related services supplied to governments during the first half of next year.

Shopping centre owner Hammerson rose 1.5% after it forecast an increase in annual earnings.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,129.21 -0.55%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 22,684.84 -0.99%
techMARK (TASX) 4,372.55 -0.92%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 1,633.20p 1.63%
BT Group (BT.A) 169.00p 1.62%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 1,629.20p 1.33%
BHP Group (BHP) 2,108.00p 1.18%
BP (BP.) 336.60p 1.11%
Compass Group (CPG) 1,513.50p 0.97%
Smith (DS) (SMDS) 371.90p 0.84%
NATWEST GROUP PLC ORD 100P (NWG) 217.30p 0.79%
Experian (EXPN) 3,458.00p 0.79%
Berkeley Group Holdings (The) (BKG) 4,459.00p 0.68%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Darktrace (DARK) 433.80p -8.98%
Royal Mail (RMG) 483.00p -4.85%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 215.10p -4.80%
Scottish Mortgage Inv Trust (SMT) 1,436.50p -4.42%
Glencore (GLEN) 354.65p -4.10%
Abrdn (ABDN) 229.30p -3.77%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 1,680.00p -3.42%
Entain (ENT) 1,663.00p -3.34%
Pershing Square Holdings Ltd NPV (PSH) 2,935.00p -3.32%
Prudential (PRU) 1,270.50p -3.31%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Auction Technology Group (ATG) 1,500.00p 13.46%
Workspace Group (WKP) 848.50p 3.60%
Essentra (ESNT) 316.50p 2.59%
easyJet (EZJ) 531.20p 2.55%
Apax Global Alpha Limited (APAX) 221.00p 2.10%
Homeserve (HSV) 921.00p 1.66%
National Express Group (NEX) 223.60p 1.54%
Hammerson (HMSO) 31.86p 1.50%
Hilton Food Group (HFG) 1,138.00p 1.42%
Currys (CURY) 130.90p 1.40%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

AJ Bell (AJB) 361.20p -8.60%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 1,411.50p -8.05%
Molten Ventures (GROW) 915.00p -5.28%
PureTech Health (PRTC) 287.00p -4.33%
Reach (RCH) 250.50p -4.21%
Endeavour Mining (EDV) 1,660.00p -4.05%
Edinburgh Worldwide Inv Trust (EWI) 306.00p -3.96%
Man Group (EMG) 212.20p -3.81%
Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) 224.80p -3.77%
Drax Group (DRX) 578.50p -3.74%


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