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Important information: The value of investments can go down as well as up so you may get back less than you invest. Investors should note that the views expressed may no longer be current and may have already been acted upon. This is a third-party news feed and may not reflect Fidelity’s views.

London midday: Stocks reverse gains to turn lower at lunchtime

(Sharecast News) - London's stock markets had turned negative by lunchtime on Thursday, reflecting a subdued trading environment during the typically quiet period between Christmas and New Year. The FTSE 100, which opened in positive territory, was down 0.13% at 7,715.11 by midday, while the FTSE 250 had slipped 0.27% to reach 19,666.56.

In foreign exchange markets, sterling was last down 0.05% on the dollar, trading at $1.2792, while it declined 0.17% against the euro to change hands at $1.1504.

"The US has recorded the biggest two-month easing in financial conditions in its history because of the impressive US sovereign rally on rising Fed rate cut expectations," said Swissquote Bank senior analyst Ipek Ozkardeskaya.

"It appears that the latest easing in the US financial conditions has been more powerful than the ones observed following the announcements of the quantitative easing programmes from the Fed."

Ozkardeskaya said the rapidly loosening financial conditions were hardly compatible with sustainably low inflation.

"Even less so as the geopolitical tensions started to disrupt global trade ways in a way that could be inflationary.

"One good news is oil's inability to ensure a sustained price rise - the barrel of US crude snapped back below $74 per barrel after testing $76 rising Red Sea tensions."

France unemployment claims rise less than expected, attention now on US

There was a severely limited flow of economic news on Thursday, with France being an exception.

The latest data revealed a positive surprise in France's unemployment benefit claims for November.

While economists had anticipated an increase of 9,200 additional claimants, the actual figure stood at 5,200.

Market participants were now turning their attention to the United States, bracing for a diverse set of data releases scheduled for the afternoon.

Key reports set for release included pending home sales, jobless claims, and the advance goods trade balance.

Economists were projecting a slight drop in initial jobless claims for the week ended 23 December, with expectations set at 205,000, down from the previous week's figure of 210,000.

Lack of news on main market, Zanaga Iron Ore surges on AIM

On London's equity markets, BAE Systems and Prudential had recorded modest gains on the FTSE 100 by midday, while on the FTSE 250, RHI Magnesita had surged over 11%, and the NextEnergy Solar Fund posted a nearly 3% increase.

Outside the main market, Zanaga Iron Ore Company had rocketed almost 24% after it announced a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) for hydroelectric power solutions for the Zanaga Iron Ore Project.

The MoU also encompassed provisions for project funding.

Insig AI was ahead by more than 5% after it achieved listing on the United Nations Climate Risk Tool Dashboard.

On the downside, BT Group and Barratt Developments led the losses on the FTSE 100, each experiencing a near-2% decline during the morning trading session, while on the FTSE 250, Grainger and Diversified Energy both posted losses of more than 2%.

Fulcrum Metals faced a downturn after reporting an operating loss of £0.35m in its first half, widening from £0.11m in the same period last year.

North American metallurgical coal miner Bens Creek also saw its stock slide, despite demonstrating solid operational progress as its first-half losses slightly widened.

Reporting by Josh White for Sharecast.com.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,717.38 -0.10% FTSE 250 (MCX) 19,665.67 -0.28% techMARK (TASX) 4,298.46 -0.25%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Scottish Mortgage Inv Trust (SMT) 805.60p 0.95% BAE Systems (BA.) 1,103.00p 0.73% AstraZeneca (AZN) 10,564.00p 0.34% GSK (GSK) 1,454.20p 0.32% Rio Tinto (RIO) 5,842.00p 0.29% Relx plc (REL) 3,097.00p 0.29% Unilever (ULVR) 3,798.50p 0.29% Pershing Square Holdings Ltd NPV (PSH) 3,560.00p 0.28% Prudential (PRU) 874.60p 0.25% Compass Group (CPG) 2,140.00p 0.23%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

BT Group (BT.A) 123.55p -2.02% Barratt Developments (BDEV) 558.40p -1.41% Ocado Group (OCDO) 743.40p -1.30% Smurfit Kappa Group (CDI) (SKG) 3,112.00p -1.27% Entain (ENT) 993.00p -1.19% Endeavour Mining (EDV) 1,778.00p -1.17% Schroders (SDR) 433.40p -1.12% NATWEST GROUP (NWG) 217.20p -1.00% Land Securities Group (LAND) 716.40p -1.00% Berkeley Group Holdings (The) (BKG) 4,710.00p -0.99%

FTSE 250 - Risers

RHI Magnesita N.V. (DI) (RHIM) 3,590.00p 12.05% NextEnergy Solar Fund Limited Red (NESF) 92.85p 2.60% PureTech Health (PRTC) 186.40p 2.31% Helios Towers (HTWS) 88.25p 2.02% Asia Dragon Trust (DGN) 353.00p 2.02% Fidelity China Special Situations (FCSS) 207.50p 1.97% SDCL Energy Efficiency Income Trust (SEIT) 66.80p 1.83% Schroder Oriental Income Fund Ltd. (SOI) 253.00p 1.81% Carnival (CCL) 1,310.50p 1.67% Plus500 Ltd (DI) (PLUS) 1,675.00p 1.52%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Grainger (GRI) 267.00p -2.84% Diversified Energy Company (DEC) 1,130.00p -2.71% Empiric Student Property (ESP) 93.40p -2.10% Schroder Asia Pacific Fund (SDP) 484.50p -1.72% Watches of Switzerland Group (WOSG) 673.50p -1.61% Great Portland Estates (GPE) 418.60p -1.60% Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 718.40p -1.59% ITV (ITV) 62.88p -1.50% Grafton Group Ut (CDI) (GFTU) 923.80p -1.48% Quilter (QLT) 101.30p -1.46%

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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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