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London close: Stocks mixed on relatively quiet Monday

(Sharecast News) - London's stock market finished with a mixed performance on Monday, after underwhelming reports from PageGroup and Crest Nicholson. The absence of trading activity in US markets due to Martin Luther King Day also contributed to a quieter-than-usual trading day globally.

At the close, the FTSE 100 index was down 0.39% at 7,594.91 points, while the FTSE 250 managed gains of 0.02%, ending the day at 19,200.84.

In currency markets, sterling was last down 0.27% on the dollar to trade at $1.2731, while it declined 0.14% against the euro, changing hands at €1.1628.

"Friday's bounce for the FTSE 100 has been reversed as a risk-off mood prevails across European markets," said IG chief market analyst Chris Beauchamp.

"Today's volume-light day across global markets shouldn't provide too much of a clue for the coming sessions, though it seems that profit-taking continues to prevail among investors.

"Earnings season didn't get off to a great start on Friday, so there has been little incentive for traders to chase the market even in its current subdued state."

Beauchamp added that global markets were watching nervously to see whether the situation in the Red Sea would escalate further.

"It certainly looks as if the Houthis will respond to the weekend's bombing, leading to another response from the US and others.

"But the lack of a surge in oil prices suggests that demand is just not strong enough at present to drive a new leg higher for crude."

Eurozone industrial production narrows, PBoC maintains medium-term rate

In economic news, eurozone industrial production faced a setback in November, declining by 0.3% on a monthly basis, as the region grappled with ongoing inflationary pressures.

On an annual basis, industrial output saw a more significant drop, falling by 6.8% within the euro area and 5.8% across the 27-member European Union, according to Eurostat.

At the same time, the seasonally-adjusted trade surplus in the eurozone expanded to €14bn in November, a notable increase from the €9.3bn recorded in October.

Furthermore, the non-seasonally adjusted trade surplus for the eurozone reached €20.3bn in November, a significant improvement compared to a €13.8bn deficit in the same month the prior year, surpassing the consensus estimate of €11.2bn.

"Eurozone industry was still in recession at the start of the fourth quarter," said Melanie Debono, senior Europe economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

"Industrial production only rose in eight EZ economies in November and, in fact, the country breakdown suggests output fell slightly more than implied by the headline; a weighted average of the country data points to a 0.4% month-to-month decline.

"This is no surprise given the drop in industrial production in Italy and decline in the EZ's largest economy, Germany."

In Germany, the nation's economy contracted in 2023 due to mounting price pressures impacting economic activity, according to fresh data from Destatis.

The price-adjusted gross domestic product (GDP) decreased 0.3% over the course of the year, marking the first contraction since the pandemic-affected year of 2020.

That aligned with analysts' predictions.

However, GDP remained 0.7% higher than the pre-pandemic level of 2019, supported by a 1.8% growth in 2022 and a 3.2% expansion in 2021.

When adjusting for calendar effects, GDP contracted by a more modest 0.1% in 2023.

The decline occurred despite a 0.7% increase in the employment rate throughout the year, attributed to the positive impact of immigration of foreign workers and reduced unemployment among the domestic population.

Earlier in the global day, the People's Bank of China surprised markets as it maintained its one-year medium-term lending facility at 2.5%.

Market analysts had anticipated a 10-basis point reduction to 2.4%.

"We suspect the main reason the PBoC failed to deliver this time is a desire to avoid triggering renewed depreciation pressure on the renminbi," said Capital Economics China economist Zichun Huang.

"Admittedly, the currency has been back below CNY 7.20 to the dollar recently.

"But there are some signs that the PBoC is still intervening to prop up the renminbi, signalling that they remain concerned about the downward pressure on the currency."

Ocado Group falls ahead of update, Bakkavor in the green

On London's equity markets, Ocado Group declined 4.54% ahead of its trading statement on Tuesday.

Luxury fashion brand Burberry Group lost 1.83% after a downgrade from 'buy' to 'neutral' by Goldman Sachs, which also lowered its price target from 2,345p to 1,663p.

Recruitment specialist PageGroup slipped 1.45% after announcing that full-year operating profit for 2023 was expected to be slightly below previous guidance.

The decrease was put down to fourth-quarter profit reductions amid a global slowdown in hiring.

Housebuilder Crest Nicholson lost 1.11% after delivering a profit warning, resulting from unexpectedly high costs and an additional one-off charge stemming from a legal claim.

Crest Nicholson revealed that the adjusted pre-tax profit for 2023 was now anticipated to be £41m, falling below the previously stated range of £45m to £50m provided in November.

Pennon Group faced a decline of 2.59% following reports that its South West Water unit had been accused of lacking transparency with the government regarding drought preparations.

The Environment Agency (EA) reportedly criticised SWW for not being forthright with regulators about the drought risk and inadequate preparedness during a heatwave in 2022.

On the upside, Bakkavor Group added 3.76% on the back of a board change announcement, after hedge fund Baupost sold its stake in the food manufacturing group to private equity firm LongRange Capital.

Reporting by Josh White for

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,594.91 -0.39% FTSE 250 (MCX) 19,200.84 0.02% techMARK (TASX) 4,288.52 -0.19%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Flutter Entertainment (CDI) (FLTR) 13,150.00p 2.81% Admiral Group (ADM) 2,625.00p 1.67% Beazley (BEZ) 513.00p 1.38% Tesco (TSCO) 300.60p 1.25% Aviva (AV.) 432.50p 1.05% Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 2,384.00p 0.85% International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 145.50p 0.80% Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,283.00p 0.79% Pearson (PSON) 979.80p 0.72% National Grid (NG.) 1,070.50p 0.66%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,212.00p -5.72% Ocado Group (OCDO) 619.00p -5.09% Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 43.83p -2.57% B&M European Value Retail S.A. (DI) (BME) 553.00p -2.50% HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 596.40p -2.25% Frasers Group (FRAS) 822.00p -1.85% Spirax-Sarco Engineering (SPX) 9,830.00p -1.66% Kingfisher (KGF) 214.90p -1.65% Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 300.00p -1.64% St James's Place (STJ) 627.80p -1.51%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Bakkavor Group (BAKK) 91.80p 8.00% Wood Group (John) (WG.) 165.50p 5.48% PPHE Hotel Group Ltd (PPH) 1,195.00p 3.46% Apax Global Alpha Limited (APAX) 158.00p 3.27% Lancashire Holdings Limited (LRE) 614.00p 2.93% NB Private Equity Partners Ltd. (NBPE) 1,658.00p 2.35% Drax Group (DRX) 533.00p 2.15% North Atlantic Smaller Companies Inv Trust (NAS) 3,880.00p 2.11% 3i Infrastructure (3IN) 315.00p 1.78% Investec (INVP) 538.60p 1.74%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Diversified Energy Company (DEC) 1,000.00p -9.50% Pets at Home Group (PETS) 297.00p -3.51% Close Brothers Group (CBG) 637.50p -3.19% Pennon Group (PNN) 722.00p -3.02% Kainos Group (KNOS) 992.50p -2.70% Syncona Limited NPV (SYNC) 117.80p -2.64% OSB Group (OSB) 425.60p -2.39% Tritax Big Box Reit (BBOX) 165.30p -1.90% Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 199.60p -1.87% Inchcape (INCH) 696.00p -1.76%

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