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London open: FTSE nudges up ahead of busy week

(Sharecast News) - London stocks nudged higher in early trade on Monday as investors looked ahead to a busy week for earnings and central bank announcements. At 0820 GMT, the FTSE 100 was 0.1% higher at 7,639.16.

Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor, said: "This week the corporate calendar goes into overdrive, with a particular focus on technology. The likes of Microsoft, Alphabet. Apple, Meta and Amazon will all provide updates, as well as Advanced Micro Devices.

"On the economic front, the Federal Reserve will announce its latest interest rate decision, with market expectations nailed on for a no-change result. The jury remains split between a cut in either March or May, with the expected six cuts this year likely to be the focus of disappointment should the Fed indicate that such a series seems unlikely given current conditions. The non-farm payrolls report is also due on Friday, with consensus pointing to 173000 jobs having been added in January compared to 216000 in the previous month, with unemployment expected to tick up slightly from 3.7% to 3.8%.

"The UK also faces an important week, with updates from a number of FTSE 100 heavyweights such as Diageo, Shell, BT and GlaxoSmithKline. In addition, the central bank will also be in focus as the Bank of England announces its latest rate decision, although it seems unlikely that it will move from the current 5.25% level."

In equity markets, BP and Shell gushed higher in tandem with oil prices, amid escalating tensions in the Middle East.

Ryanair was in focus as it cut its full-year profit forecast and posted a 93% decline in third-quarter net profit, as higher fuel costs offset revenue gains and after its flights were removed from online travel agents.

Net profit fell to €15m from €211m in the same period a year earlier. Ryanair said traffic rose 7% during the quarter to 41.4m and average fares grew 13% to over €42, but the fuel bill was 35% higher at €1.2bn.

Ryanair now expects FY24 profit after tax of between €1.85bn and €1.95bn, down from previous guidance of €1.85bn to €2.05bn.

Superdry gained as it confirmed it was working with advisers on cost-saving options. Responding to press speculation, the fashion brand said: "In line with the company's turnaround strategy, the company confirms it is working with advisors to explore the feasibility of various material cost saving options.

"Whilst there is no certainty that any of these options are progressed, they aim to build on the success of the cost saving initiatives carried out by the company to date and position the business for long-term success."

Sky News reported over the weekend that Superdry and its advisers at PricewaterhouseCoopers were initiating work on plans that could lead to a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) or restructuring plan.

Sky said this could be aimed at closing underperforming shops - with a commensurate impact on jobs - and forcing through rent cuts with landlords.

On the downside, iron ore pellet producer Ferrexpo slumped as it said Ukraine's court of appeal has confirmed a claim against it for around $125m as part of the long-running court case against its largest shareholder. The company said it would file an appeal to the Supreme Court in Ukraine.

Ferrexpo is facing several court cases or investigations by Ukrainian authorities trying to recover assets from founder and 49.5% shareholder Kostyantin Zhevago.

B&Q and Castorama owner Kingfisher was knocked lower by a downgrade to 'sector perform' from 'outperform' at RBC Capital Markets. RBC said it was relatively cautious on the outlook for France and consensus earnings in the near term, and that it currently see more valuation upside potential for some other UK retailers such as B&M.

In other broker note action, Schroders fell after a downgrade to 'underperform' at BNPP Exane.

IMI was lifted by an upgrade to 'buy' at Berenberg, while Intertek was higher on the back of an upgrade to 'buy' at Jefferies.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,639.16 0.05% FTSE 250 (MCX) 19,304.98 -0.17% techMARK (TASX) 4,383.50 -0.10%

FTSE 100 - Risers

BP (BP.) 469.85p 1.77% 3i Group (III) 2,446.00p 1.45% Shell (SHEL) 2,464.00p 1.42% BAE Systems (BA.) 1,184.50p 1.41% Intertek Group (ITRK) 4,502.00p 0.99% IMI (IMI) 1,684.00p 0.84% Beazley (BEZ) 549.50p 0.83% Fresnillo (FRES) 502.80p 0.80% National Grid (NG.) 1,050.00p 0.62% Barclays (BARC) 150.12p 0.59%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Schroders (SDR) 407.70p -4.07% Kingfisher (KGF) 219.70p -2.40% International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 151.15p -1.88% Halma (HLMA) 2,158.00p -1.69% Ocado Group (OCDO) 567.40p -1.46% Mondi (MNDI) 1,473.00p -1.28% Smurfit Kappa Group (CDI) (SKG) 3,064.00p -1.16% Anglo American (AAL) 1,866.40p -1.15% SEGRO (SGRO) 856.20p -1.04% Diploma (DPLM) 3,302.00p -0.96%

FTSE 250 - Risers

LXI Reit (LXI) 108.00p 4.35% Pets at Home Group (PETS) 308.00p 3.01% Just Group (JUST) 86.00p 2.75% Mitie Group (MTO) 108.00p 2.66% Octopus Renewables Infrastructure Trust (ORIT) 88.80p 2.30% TP Icap Group (TCAP) 189.70p 2.26% Future (FUTR) 743.00p 1.71% FirstGroup (FGP) 171.70p 1.60% Drax Group (DRX) 503.20p 1.39% Investec (INVP) 517.80p 1.37%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Baltic Classifieds Group (BCG) 215.50p -4.86% Ferrexpo (FXPO) 82.00p -4.48% Wizz Air Holdings (WIZZ) 1,991.00p -2.88% Domino's Pizza Group (DOM) 344.60p -2.82% Kainos Group (KNOS) 1,061.00p -2.30% Chemring Group (CHG) 345.50p -2.26% Carnival (CCL) 1,131.50p -2.20% TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 560.00p -1.50% Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 187.20p -1.47% Computacenter (CCC) 2,828.00p -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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