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London close: Stocks flat after GDP data, retail sales

(Sharecast News) - It was more 'meh' than 'ho ho ho' at the end of a shortened holiday session on Friday, after data showed the UK was teetering on the brink of recession, although retail sales figures were better than expected. The FTSE 100 ended unchanged at 7,684.06.

Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG, said: "It's been a year of mixed fortunes for the UK's stock market, and while it has avoided heading through the lows of the year, it's 1.9% gain since the beginning of 2023 is left far behind by its global peers.

"UK investors will hope that, with rate cuts now much more likely in 2024 thanks to this week's inflation and GDP revisions, the index can put a better foot forward in the year to come."

Data released earlier by the Office for National Statistics showed the economy contracted by 0.1% in the period from July to September, down from a previous estimate of no growth.

The services sector contracted 0.2%, revised down from a first estimate of a 0.1% decline.

The data also showed that there was no economic growth in the second quarter, down from a previous estimate of 0.2% growth.

Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS, said: "The latest data from both our regular monthly business survey and VAT returns show the economy performed slightly less well in the last two quarters than our initial estimates. The broader picture, though, remains one of an economy that has been little changed over the last year.

"The latest VAT data, which takes a little time to receive and process means we now estimate the economy showed no growth in the second quarter, with weaker performances from smaller businesses, particularly those in both hospitality and IT than first shown.

"We also now estimate the economy contracted slightly in the third quarter, when we previously reported no growth, with later returns from our business survey showing film production, engineering & design and telecommunications all performing a little worse than we initially thought."

Ashley Webb, UK economist at Capital Economics, said: "The 0.1% q/q fall in real GDP in Q3 may mean that the mildest of mild recessions started in Q3. But whether or not there is a small recession, the big picture is that we expect real GDP growth to remain subdued throughout 2024."

Separate figures released by the ONS showed that retail sales volumes rose 1.3% in November, coming in ahead of consensus expectations for 0.4% growth and following no growth in October. The ONS said sales were boosted by heavily-discounted Black Friday deals.

The previous month's data was revised up from a 0.3% fall.

Although UK markets are now closed for the Christmas break, US inflation figures for November - personal consumption expenditure - are due out at 1330 GMT.

In equity markets, JD Sports tanked after Nike downgraded its revenue outlook and announced plans to cut costs by about $2bn over the next three years.

Elsewhere, the Canadian government approved the $13.5bn takeover of HSBC Canada by RBC, allowing the sale to proceed despite calls for it to be blocked over fears of reduced competition in the sector.

PureTech Health surged after its founded entity, Karuna Therapeutics, agreed to be bought by Bristol Myers Squibb for $14bn.

Outside the FTSE 350, EnQuest surged after agreeing to sell a 15% working interest in the Bressay Field for £46m.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,697.51 0.04% FTSE 250 (MCX) 19,630.95 0.31% techMARK (TASX) 4,287.02 0.03%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 48.05p 1.81% Pershing Square Holdings Ltd NPV (PSH) 3,530.00p 1.73% Airtel Africa (AAF) 129.50p 1.41% Unite Group (UTG) 1,055.00p 1.34% Rightmove (RMV) 571.60p 0.95% Convatec Group (CTEC) 245.20p 0.91% M&G (MNG) 223.70p 0.90% Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 145.20p 0.87% Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 302.40p 0.87% HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 627.80p 0.85%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 165.00p -5.15% Ocado Group (OCDO) 725.00p -4.25% Entain (ENT) 980.00p -2.49% Rentokil Initial (RTO) 435.00p -1.52% DCC (CDI) (DCC) 5,682.00p -1.46% Prudential (PRU) 862.00p -1.35% Spirax-Sarco Engineering (SPX) 10,365.00p -1.24% Ashtead Group (AHT) 5,374.00p -1.21% Halma (HLMA) 2,290.00p -1.12% B&M European Value Retail S.A. (DI) (BME) 569.60p -1.11%

FTSE 250 - Risers

PureTech Health (PRTC) 182.40p 20.95% Harbour Energy (HBR) 312.70p 5.82% W.A.G Payment Solutions (WPS) 85.20p 4.45% Sirius Real Estate Ltd. (SRE) 94.00p 3.64% Hochschild Mining (HOC) 107.00p 3.48% Syncona Limited NPV (SYNC) 120.00p 3.27% Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) 260.00p 3.26% Just Group (JUST) 86.00p 3.24% Trustpilot Group (TRST) 148.50p 3.20% IWG (IWG) 182.20p 3.15%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

RHI Magnesita N.V. (DI) (RHIM) 3,230.00p -4.55% Coats Group (COA) 76.00p -3.68% FDM Group (Holdings) (FDM) 442.00p -3.28% Watches of Switzerland Group (WOSG) 676.50p -3.15% Fidelity China Special Situations (FCSS) 200.50p -2.91% Apax Global Alpha Limited (APAX) 160.40p -2.91% AJ Bell (AJB) 316.20p -2.53% Future (FUTR) 750.00p -1.78% Greencoat UK Wind (UKW) 146.90p -1.48% Renishaw (RSW) 3,616.00p -1.47%

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Important information: This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to one of Fidelity’s advisers or an authorised financial adviser of your choice. When you are thinking about investing in shares, it’s generally a good idea to consider holding them alongside other investments in a diversified portfolio of assets. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns.

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