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08 Feb 2021 | 08:08

London open: Stocks edge higher on US stimulus optimism

(Sharecast News) - London stocks rose in early trade on Monday amid optimism over US stimulus, although gains were unspectacular. At 0850 GMT, the FTSE 100 was up 0.4% at 6,513.69.

Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said: "At the start of a slightly quieter week when it comes to data, the European markets continued to ignore the rampant spread of the various Covid variants, instead clinging onto their hopes that Biden will force through his fat stimulus package in the coming weeks."

Campbell said the FTSE is being pinned back by concerns over the efficacy of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, "both in over-65s - a claim that has been challenged due to small sample sizes - and against the South African variant".

It emerged over the weekend that South Africa has suspended use of the vaccine after a study showed it offered minimal protection against the strain.

In corporate news, miners were the standout gainers, with Anglo American, BHP and Glencore all higher.

Energy producer Drax gained after saying it was buying Canadian firm Pinnacle Renewable Energy for 11.30 Canadian dollars a share, valuing it at £226m.

Rolls-Royce was under pressure on news it is temporarily closing its jet engine factories for two weeks this summer as it moves to save cash amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Experian was in the red after the credit-checking firm said it is carrying out a forensic investigation following media reports of a data breach involving its Serasa business in Brazil, but that there is no evidence its technology systems have been compromised.

Online supermarket Ocado lost ground following a report the UK government is considering a tax raid on companies that have profited from the pandemic.

In broker note action, JD Sports was boosted by an upgrade to 'outperform' at RBC Capital Markets, while Marks & Spencer was hit by a downgrade to 'sector perform'.

Housebuilder Barratt Developments was weaker after a downgrade to 'hold' at Jefferies, while rival Taylor Wimpey was lifted by an upgrade to 'buy'.

Weir surged and Flutter Entertainment rallied after upgrades to 'overweight' at Morgan Stanley.

Lloyds was higher after an upgrade to 'neutral' at Goldman Sachs, and budget airline easyJet was knocked lower by a downgrade to 'sell' at Stifel.

Just Group was trading up after an initiation at 'buy 'at Peel Hunt.

Smurfit and DS Smith were lower after downgrades at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, while Mondi was lifted by an upgrade to 'buy'.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 6,513.69 0.38% FTSE 250 (MCX) 21,043.65 -0.11% techMARK (TASX) 4,123.59 0.23%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Anglo American (AAL) 2,568.00p 3.38% Evraz (EVR) 518.40p 3.02% Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 37.90p 2.43% NATWEST GROUP PLC ORD 100P (NWG) 174.30p 2.32% Flutter Entertainment (FLTR) 14,400.00p 2.06% BHP Group (BHP) 2,081.00p 1.79% Mondi (MNDI) 1,782.50p 1.65% Prudential (PRU) 1,239.00p 1.56% Entain (ENT) 1,307.00p 1.55% Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 164.05p 1.52%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 91.94p -2.09% Admiral Group (ADM) 2,892.00p -1.97% Barratt Developments (BDEV) 696.40p -1.92% Pearson (PSON) 712.00p -1.60% Experian (EXPN) 2,595.00p -1.59% Tesco (TSCO) 242.80p -1.46% Land Securities Group (LAND) 619.90p -1.38% British Land Company (BLND) 452.60p -1.37% Fresnillo (FRES) 1,017.00p -1.26% Informa (INF) 517.20p -1.26%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Weir Group (WEIR) 2,005.00p 4.02% Just Group (JUST) 82.45p 3.52% Morgan Advanced Materials (MGAM) 307.00p 3.02% OSB Group (OSB) 425.40p 1.92% Coats Group (COA) 65.30p 1.87% Vesuvius (VSVS) 502.50p 1.80% Baillie Gifford US Growth Trust (USA) 373.00p 1.36% Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 2,074.00p 1.22% Playtech (PTEC) 482.20p 1.20% BlackRock Smaller Companies Trust (BRSC) 1,718.00p 1.18%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Syncona Limited NPV (SYNC) 259.00p -4.07% Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 134.35p -2.89% Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) 344.00p -2.69% 4Imprint Group (FOUR) 2,475.00p -2.56% Henderson Smaller Companies Inv Trust (HSL) 1,078.00p -2.53% Frasers Group (FRAS) 465.60p -2.51% easyJet (EZJ) 808.20p -2.39% Hammerson (HMSO) 22.83p -2.31% Wetherspoon (J.D.) (JDW) 1,270.00p -2.31% SSP Group (SSPG) 331.80p -2.24%
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