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London open: Stocks nudge lower but Currys surges amid takeover interest

(Sharecast News) - London stocks were just a touch weaker in early trade on Monday, but electricals retailer Currys surged amid takeover interest. At 0850 GMT, the FTSE 100 was down 0.1% at 7,707.19, with trade expected to remain fairly quiet as US markets will be closed for Presidents' Day.

Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "The FTSE 100 is on the back foot at the start of the week, weighed down by concerns that interest rates might have to linger for longer in the US, the world's largest economy. The index was trading flat in early trade as investors found little to boost their mood.

"With a key inflation reading, the producer prices index, coming in hotter than expected on Friday, investor hopes of rapid cuts to interest rates by the Federal Reserve have cooled off, leading to more risk-off sentiment. Friday falls on Wall Street, have prompted wariness in London, with not much cheer emanating from Asia."

On home shores, data out earlier showed that house prices strengthened in February as mortgage rates continued to fall.

According to Rightmove's latest house price index, average new seller prices rose by 0.9% on the month, or 0.1% year-on-year.

It is the first time the annual price change has edged into positive territory after six months of falls.

In January, prices rose 1.3% on the month but fell 0.7% year-on-year.

The average asking price is now £362,839.

Agreed sales in the first six weeks of 2024 jumped 16% on the same period a year earlier. There were also upticks in new listings and buyer enquiries, both up 7% year-on-year.

Tim Bannister, director of property science at Rightmove, said: "Early-bird Boxing Day buyers got a head start in cherry-picking from a record level of new property choice and have now been joined many other buyers also believing that 2024 offers the right market conditions to move.

"Mortgage rates have fallen considerably from their peak and are now remaining broadly stable after the uncertainty of late 2022 and 2023.

"Momentum to move in 2024 is continuing to build."

However, Rightmove noted that the market remained particularly price-sensitive, with cheaper homes selling more quickly than higher-priced properties.

On average it is taking more than two weeks longer to find a buyer than it was this time last year. Stripping out the pandemic, the average time to sell is its slowest since 2015.

The Bank of England increased the cost of borrowing 14 times as it looked to tackle surging inflation, to 5.25%.

However, it has left rates unchanged since August and most analysts agree the next move will be a cut.

Mortgage rates, meanwhile, soared in response to the government's disastrous mini Budget in 2022. But they have started to moderate in recent months.

In equity markets, Currys rocketed to the top of the FTSE 100 after US private equity firm Elliott Advisors and Chinese ecommerce giant confirmed they were considering separate bids for the struggling retailer. Currys said it had rejected a £700m proposal from Elliott as it "significantly undervalued" the chain and its future prospects.

AstraZeneca rallied after the US Food and Drug Administration approved a combination of its cancer drug Tagrisso with chemotherapy to treat a type of lung cancer.

SSE was boosted by an upgrade to 'buy' at Jefferies.

Moneysupermarket lost ground even as it hailed record full-year revenues following a strong performance from its insurance business.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,707.19 -0.06% FTSE 250 (MCX) 19,193.00 0.01% techMARK (TASX) 4,388.49 0.14%

FTSE 100 - Risers

AstraZeneca (AZN) 10,474.00p 3.76% Vodafone Group (VOD) 66.93p 1.98% Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 326.80p 1.08% BT Group (BT.A) 107.10p 0.85% SSE (SSE) 1,608.50p 0.81% Smurfit Kappa Group (CDI) (SKG) 3,266.00p 0.55% SEGRO (SGRO) 853.80p 0.52% Haleon (HLN) 324.65p 0.51% National Grid (NG.) 1,019.50p 0.34% Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 237.70p 0.30%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,311.50p -2.02% Prudential (PRU) 822.40p -1.44% Flutter Entertainment (DI) (FLTR) 16,850.00p -1.38% Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,760.50p -1.37% Fresnillo (FRES) 481.00p -1.33% Scottish Mortgage Inv Trust (SMT) 797.80p -1.29% Airtel Africa (AAF) 95.10p -1.25% Anglo American (AAL) 1,780.60p -1.20% Rio Tinto (RIO) 5,449.00p -1.20% Centrica (CNA) 137.45p -1.19%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Currys (CURY) 62.25p 32.22% Games Workshop Group (GAW) 9,925.00p 2.48% C&C Group (CDI) (CCR) 157.00p 2.35% Bank of Georgia Group (BGEO) 4,055.00p 2.27% AO World (AO.) 90.00p 1.98% Capital Gearing Trust (CGT) 4,620.00p 1.87% PureTech Health (PRTC) 194.80p 1.67% SDCL Energy Efficiency Income Trust (SEIT) 61.00p 1.67% Tullow Oil (TLW) 31.32p 1.62% International Distributions Services (IDS) 267.20p 1.44%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Close Brothers Group (CBG) 289.80p -3.14% Genuit Group (GEN) 396.50p -2.94% Bakkavor Group (BAKK) 93.20p -2.51% Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 166.10p -2.06% Fidelity Emerging Markets Limited Ptg NPV (FEML) 624.20p -1.98% Elementis (ELM) 137.40p -1.86% Ashmore Group (ASHM) 217.40p -1.63% Edinburgh Worldwide Inv Trust (EWI) 146.20p -1.62% Indivior (INDV) 1,382.00p -1.57% Moonpig Group (MOON) 158.70p -1.55%

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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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