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LONDON MARKET CLOSE: Dovish Draghi Sparks Off Rally Across Europe

(Alliance News) - An unremarkable start to the day for London stocks picked up mid-morning as ...

Alliance News 18 June, 2019 | 4:59PM
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(Alliance News) - An unremarkable start to the day for London stocks picked up mid-morning as dovish comments from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi boosted equities across Europe.

"The Italian – who is in the endgame of his tenure at the top of the central bank – claimed both cutting interest rates and boosting its asset purchase program remain part of the ECB's tool set, comments that immediately turned a potentially fretful session into one full of triple-digit growth," observed Connor Campbell at Spreadex.

Also contributing to the FTSE 100's gains on Tuesday were a well-received set of annual results from equipment rental firm Ashtead, and positive regulatory news for drugmaker AstraZeneca.

The FTSE 100 index closed up 85.73 points, or 1.2%, at 7,443.04. The FTSE 250 ended up 154.18 points, or 0.8%, at 19,311.79, and the AIM All-Share closed up 0.98 of a point, or 0.1%, at 938.44.

The Cboe UK 100 ended up 1.3% at 12,643.11, the Cboe UK 250 closed up 0.8% at 17,311.46, and the Cboe Small Companies ended flat at 11,643.76.

ECB chief Draghi, speaking in Portugal, opened up the possibility of more stimulus measures should the economic outlook not improve and inflation not pick up in the eurozone.

"In the absence of improvement, such that the sustained return of inflation to our aim is threatened, additional stimulus will be required," Draghi said Tuesday at a speech at the annual ECB Forum on Central Banking in Sintra.

"And the APP [asset purchase programme] still has considerable headroom," he added, noting that risks to the euro area economic outlook remain tilted to the downside.

US President Donald Trump, who last week complained that the European single currency is unfairly valued against the greenback, used Draghi's latest comments as a chance to slam the ECB's loose monetary policy.

"Mario Draghi just announced more stimulus could come, which immediately dropped the Euro against the Dollar, making it unfairly easier for them to compete against the USA," Trump tweeted.

The euro stood at USD1.1193 at the European equities close Tuesday, down from USD1.1233 at the same time on Monday.

Following the Sintra comments, Danske Bank said it expects the ECB to begin preparing markets for looser policy as soon as next month.

"We expect ECB to include 'at present or lower' levels in the July meeting, but only cut rates in September as part of a package together with restart of QE," said Danske Bank.

The bank continued: "As the Sintra piece entails a sense of urgency and bold statements, we expect a 20 basis point cut in the deposit rate and the MRO rate and 25bp in the lending rate, to the new rates being negative 60bp, negative 20bp and 0% respectively."

In European equities on Tuesday, the CAC 40 in Paris ended up 2.3%, while the DAX 30 in Frankfurt advanced 2.2%.

"Draghi's comments come just as the Fed start their two-day monetary policy meeting today and investors are starting to position themselves for a more dovish statement. Whilst a rate cut is not broadly expected today, market players believe that the Fed will start to adjust the statement to signal a rate cut either as soon as July, if not September," said Fiona Cincotta at City Index.

Stocks in New York were higher at the London equities close, with the Dow Jones up 1.4%, the S&P 500 index rising 1.3%, and the Nasdaq Composite climbing 1.9%.

Trump is planning an "extended meeting" with China's President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan at the end of June, the US President tweeted.

Washington and Beijing have been locked in a trade war for months, with the US government imposing new tariffs on around half of all Chinese imports. Trump has threatened to extend these measures to all imports from China, and Beijing has threatened retaliatory measures.

Trump said he had a "very good" conversation with Xi on the phone and that Washington and Beijing would start talks ahead of the summit.

In the UK, the pound was quoted at USD1.2551 at the London equities close Tuesday, soft compared to USD1.2559 at the close on Monday.

Conservative MPs are taking part in a second round of voting to narrow down the list of candidates standing to be new party leader and UK prime minister.

Tory MPs will vote in the second bout of the contest to select Britain's next prime minister on Tuesday ahead of a live TV debate that will feature front-runner and former foreign secretary Boris Johnson.

Candidates need to gain at least 33 votes from MPs to remain in the race to reach the final run-off, which will see some 160,000 Tory members select the next prime minister.

If all candidates pass the 33-vote threshold, the one with the lowest total will be eliminated and by the end of the week, four of the six current riders will be forced out, leaving the final two to go head-to-head for votes from the Tory grassroots.

The ongoing leadership contest comes as a poll has suggested most Conservative party members would be prepared to sacrifice the union, destroy their party, or suffer economic damage to get the UK out of the EU.

The YouGov survey found that 63% of members would be prepared to see Brexit take place even if it meant Scotland leaving the UK. Some 61% would rather Brexit took place even if it caused "significant damage" to the economy, 59% would prioritise leaving the EU even if it meant Northern Ireland breaking away from the rest of the UK, and 54% would accept the Tory party "being destroyed" in order to secure Brexit.

In commodities, Brent oil was quoted at USD62.56 a barrel at the London equities close Tuesday, up from from USD61.66 late Monday.

"Throughout 2019, there has been a largely positive correlation between oil and equities, and that is playing out today. The perception that US-China relations might improve is helping the oil market," said David Madden at CMC Markets.

This caused London-listed BP to gain 2.1% and Royal Dutch Shell 'A' and 'B' shares to advance 1.4% and 1.5% respectively.

Gold, meanwhile, was quoted at USD1,347.87 an ounce at the London equities close Tuesday against USD1,340.19 at the close on Monday.

Back in the FTSE 100, Ashtead ended as the best blue-chip performer, up 5.7% after revealing a GBP500 million share buyback alongside a strong set of annual results.

For the year to April 30, Ashtead recorded pretax profit of GBP1.06 billion, up 23% from GBP862.1 million the year before, as revenue increased 19% to GBP4.50 billion.

Underlying pretax profit was up 17% to GBP1.11 billion, in line with consensus, while rental revenue was up 18% to GBP4.14 billion.

Ashtead, which rents out construction and industrial equipment, said its core Sunbelt US division recorded revenue of GBP3.82 billion for the 2019 financial year versus GBP3.10 billion the year before.

Drugmaker AstraZeneca advanced 2.5% after getting European approval for Lynparza in ovarian cancer.

The European Commission approved the drug for adults patients with stage three and four ovarian cancer who have a BRCA mutation. BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes help suppress the growth of tumours, and mutations in these genes is associated with an increased risk of cancer.

Lynparza is part of a strategic oncology collaboration between Astra and US pharma company Merck & Co, and the two companies are pursuing further ovarian cancer trials, including an ongoing trial of Lynparza in combination with bevacizumab. This is the third indication for Lynparza in the EU.

International Consolidated Airlines shares ended up 1.2% after signing a deal to purchase 200 Boeing B737 short to medium-range aircraft for its fleet with deliveries set to begin in 2023.

Additionally, IAG has ordered eight Airbus A321XLR aircraft for its Iberia fleet and six for Aer Lingus airline, plus 14 options.

The letter of intent with Boeing - which remains subject to formal agreement - would see IAG take delivery of a mix of 737-8 and 737-10 between 2023 and 2027. The planes would be powered by the CFM Leap engines.

In a separate announcement, Boeing confirmed the planes are from the troubled MAX series of the aircraft. Earlier in 2019, the 737 MAX version of the aircraft was grounded following two fatal crashes involving the plane.

Boeing - with shares up 2.4% in New York - added that the deal with IAG is worth more than USD24 billion at list prices.

At the bottom of the index was Premier Inn hotel owner Whitbread, down 1.3%, as the firm prepares to report first quarter results on Wednesday.

Russian steelmaker Evraz ended down 2.3% after Citigroup cut the stock to Sell from Neutral.

In the FTSE 250, Kier rebounded 9.4% after shedding 17% in the previous session after suspending its dividend and putting several businesses up for sale in order to control debt.

In the UK corporate calendar on Wednesday, housebuilder Berkeley releases annual results alongside full-year figures from luxury bag maker Mulberry. Over-50s insurer Saga releases a trading statement.

In the economic calendar on Wednesday, Japanese imports and exports for May are at 0050 BST and German produce prices are at 0700 BST, followed by the eurozone current account at 0900 BST.

In the UK, produce and consumer prices are due out at 0930 BST and eurozone construction output at 1000 BST. In the US, the two-day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee concludes with a policy decision due at 1900 BST and a press conference with Chair Jerome Powell at 1930 BST.

By Lucy Heming; lucyheming@alliancenews.com 

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Copyright 2019 Alliance News Limited. All Rights Reserved.

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Securities Mentioned in Article

Security Name Price Change (%) Morningstar
Kier Group PLC 118.00 GBX -0.84 -
BP PLC 485.05 GBX -0.66
Whitbread PLC 4,223.00 GBX -1.22 -
Ashtead Group PLC 2,155.00 GBX 1.22 -
Royal Dutch Shell PLC B 2,226.50 GBX -0.87
EVRAZ PLC 375.20 GBX -4.58 -
AstraZeneca PLC 6,772.00 GBX -0.72
Royal Dutch Shell PLC Class A 25.99 EUR -0.82 -
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA 508.60 GBX -0.90 -

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