Friday 17 January 2020

Markets Report: Investors await UK vote amid volatility

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EUROPEAN shares proved volatile as investors nervously awaited results from today's UK election to decide the fate of Brexit.

Investors also awaited the outcome of central bank meetings in the US and eurozone this week.

The European STOXX 600 index initially fell 0.2pc but rebounded to close 0.2pc higher in volatile trading.

Britain's domestically focused mid-cap Ftse 250 index fell 0.65pc as some polls predicted only a narrow Conservative majority for Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Should Mr Johnson fail to win an outright majority, this would prolong Brexit uncertainty and further hit investor sentiment.

"European markets do remain cheap, versus history or other markets," said Chris Bailey, European strategist at Raymond James. "Investors are still underweight, mostly in UK assets. I think that will close up after the election and when we have a bit more clarity on Brexit."

M&C Saatchi shares dove after four bosses at the advertising giant, including its co-founder, quit the firm in the wake of an accounting crisis.

Shares slipped 5.1pc to 97.3 pence after Lord Maurice Saatchi, who launched the business with his brother Charles in 1995, resigned.

JD Sports shares plunged after the company's largest investor sold holdings worth £177m (€210m).

The retailer's stock slid 10.2pc to £7.22 after majority owner Pentland Group confirmed the major shares sale.

Pentland, which also owns sportswear brands such as Speedo and Berghaus, said it sold 24 million shares in the company at £7.40 each.

The group now has a 55pc stake in the retailer, having purchased 57.5pc in 2005.

In Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, Aramco shares surged the maximum permitted 10pc above their IPO price. The Saudi government hailed this as a vindication of its towering $2 trillion (€1.8 trillion) valuation of the state oil company.

Aramco shares closed at 35.2 riyals (€8.46) each, up from the initial public offering (IPO) price of 32 riyals and at the daily limit of price moves allowed by the Tadawul exchange.

That gives Saudi Arabian Oil Co (Aramco) a value of $1.88 trillion, comfortably making it the world's most valuable listed company.


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