TOP NEWS SUMMARY: FTSE 100 Set For Worst Annual Performance Since 2008

LONDON (Alliance News) - The following is a summary of top news stories ...

Alliance News 31 December, 2018 | 10:51AM
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LONDON (Alliance News) - The following is a summary of top news stories Monday.
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COMPANIES
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Blue-chip miner Rio Tinto said it has signed a power agreement for its Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia. The power source framework agreement, between the mine and the Mongolian government, sets out a new timetable for the mine to meet its obligations to source power in Mongolia. Construction at the 300 megawatt plant for Oyu Tolgoi is scheduled to start in 2020, and commissioning is expected mid-2023. Rio Tinto's Copper & Diamonds Chief Executive Arnaud Soirat said: "The power agreement is a positive step forward for Oyu Tolgoi and outlines a path to secure reliable, long-term power for the operation. We will now work together with all of Oyu Tolgoi's partners to finalise the details and develop the power project which will help ensure the operation reaches its full potential to the benefit of all shareholders."
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Digital advertising and marketing firm S4 Capital - headed up by former WPP chief executive Martin Sorrell - said trading was in line with expectations in the eleven months to November-end. For the 11 months to November 30, S4 Capital's euro reportable revenue grew almost 46% year-on-year, while gross profit increased almost 40%. S4 Capital said like-for-like revenue was up by more than 51%. "Momentum continues at MediaMonks and now at MightyHive, and we are already making progress in bringing MediaMonks and MightyHive together to provide a differentiated digital content, data and programmatic offer for clients and investors. We look forward to updating the market in early March 2019," said Sorrell. The company also said it secured "prestigious digital content assignments from two major global package goods companies" before Christmas and expects these will boost its performance in 2019.
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MARKETS
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The FTSE 100 was slightly higher in the last session of 2018 on optimism about US-China trade talks, though the index remains on course to end the year with the biggest loss in a decade. London's leading index is set to suffer a 12% fall in 2018, the worst annual performance since 2008's 31% tumble. Online grocer Ocado, the biggest year-to-date gainer in the FTSE 100, was sat atop the index on Monday while betting shop GVC Holdings was the worst performer.
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FTSE 100: up 0.3% at 6,751.74
FTSE 250: up 0.5% at 17,557.97
AIM ALL-SHARE: up 0.7% at 856.31

GBP: up at USD1.2747 (USD1.2689)
EUR: flat at USD1.1444 (USD1.1446)

GOLD: up at USD1,282.28 per ounce (USD1,278.20)
OIL (Brent): up at USD54.05 a barrel (USD52.59)

(changes since previous London equities close)
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ECONOMICS AND GENERAL
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US President Donald Trump on Saturday touted "big progress being made" after a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jingping, in talks to stave off escalation in the US-China trade war. "Just had a long and very good call with President Xi of China. Deal is moving along very well," Trump said in a tweet. "If made, it will be very comprehensive, covering all subjects, areas and points of dispute. Big progress being made! Deal is moving along," he added. Earlier this month, Trump and Xi agreed on a 90-day "ceasefire" to give the teams time to negotiate a more permanent settlement. As part of the truce, Trump pledged that on January 1, he would leave the recently increased tariffs on USD200 billion worth of Chinese products at 10% and not raise the rate to 25%, as previously threatened.
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The manufacturing sector in China fell into contraction in December, the latest survey from the National Bureau of Statistics said, with a PMI score of 49.4. That's down from the no-change mark of 50.0 points in November. A score above 50 signals expansion, while below 50 indicates contraction. The bureau also said its non-manufacturing PMI climbed to 53.8, up from 53.4 in the previous month. As a result of the two scores, the bureau's composite index came in at 52.6, down from 52.8 a month earlier.
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UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid is holding talks with Whitehall chiefs on Monday as he prepares to step up action on migrants' attempts to reach Britain by boat from France. Javid cut short a family holiday in South Africa to take personal control of the situation, which has seen almost 100 migrants making the perilous Channel crossing in dinghies and other small craft over the Christmas period. But writing in the Daily Telegraph, he admitted that many of the factors behind the increase in crossings are "outside of our control". In phone talks on Sunday, which the Home Office described as "significant and productive", Javid and his French counterpart Christophe Castaner agreed to ramp up co-operation to stop the crossings. An "enhanced action plan" to be launched this week will include increased joint patrols and surveillance, disruption of organised trafficking gangs and efforts to raise awareness among migrants of the dangers of a Channel crossing.
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Jean-Claude Juncker has called on the UK to "get your act together" over Brexit, branding some Britons "entirely unreasonable" for expecting Brussels to put forward a solution. The European Commission president also rejected claims of a plot to keep the UK in the EU "by all possible means" and revealed he fears the majority of MPs "deeply distrust" both the EU and Theresa May. The top Eurocrat's comments to German newspaper Welt am Sonntag were published as Cabinet Brexiteer Liam Fox said the chances of Britain leaving the EU will be little more than "50-50" if the prime minister's deal is rejected by Parliament.
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Italian lawmakers have approved the government's revised budget for 2019, putting to bed a row with the EU that challenged Rome's populist coalition to roll back its spending or face punitive action for an excessive deficit. The legislation passed its final parliamentary hurdle on Sunday when it was approved by the Chamber of Deputies in a 313-70 vote. The amended text was drafted after a first set of proposals, drawn up by Italy's coalition government of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the far-right League, sparked a fierce row with Brussels. The Senate had already given the revised budget its approval, and deputies in the lower house had indicated late Saturday that they would do the same after voting for the package in a confidence vote for the government.
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