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Market up on Omicron hopes | Go-Ahead shares suspended


4.30pm: London’s stellar start

The market in London enjoyed a stellar start to the new year. The FTSE 100 closed 120.61 points (1.63%) higher at 7,505.15.

8.30am: Blue chips surge at open

Blue chip shares made a strong start to the new trading year, surging through 7400 on the back of renewed optimism over the impact of Omicron on the global economy. At 8.30am the FTSE 100 was up 91.65 points (1.24%) at 7,476.19.

7am: Go-Ahead shares suspended

Transport group Go-Ahead has requested suspension of its shares to give its auditor Deloitte more time to prepare its annual results for the year ended 3 July.

The company’s 2.50% guaranteed bond due 2024 is also temporarily suspended with effect from 7.30am today.

Go-Ahead said it continues to work closely with Deloitte to ensure the FY21 Results are published as soon as possible. This is expected to be before the end of January.

7am: Macfarlane labels sale

Macfarlane Group, the Scotland-based packaging company, has sold Macfarlane Labels and its subsidiaries in Ireland and Sweden.

Full story here

12.01am: Shop prices rise

Shop Price annual inflation accelerated to 0.8% in December, up from 0.3% in November. This is above the 12- and 6-month average price decreases of 0.9% and 0.3%, respectively. Following November’s rise, this is the second time that prices have risen since May 2019.

Non-Food deflation rose to 0.2% last month compared with the decline of 0.1% in November. This is a slower rate of decline than the 12- and 6-month average price declines of 1.7% and 0.9%, respectively.

Food inflation stood at 2.4% in December, up from 1.1% in November. This is above the 12- and 6-month average price growth rates of 0.3% and 0.6%, respectively. This is the highest inflation rate since March 2019.

Global markets

Oil prices rose early today as investors embraced expectations that OPEC+ will increase output by 400,000 barrels per day in February, as it has done each month since August.

Fuel demand remains robust despite the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and its potential impact on international travel. Economies such as Australia are sticking to their reopening plans and factory activity also grew in Asia last month as companies took global cases of Omicron in their stride.

Brent crude futures gained 43 cent to $79.41 a barrel at 0502 GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate crude recouped its earlier loses and rose 33 cents to $76.41 a barrel.

China’s Shanghai Composite slipped 0.28% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.08% even though Chinese factory activity growth accelerated in December.

The Nikkei in Japan jumped 1.77% while South Korea’s Kospi remained near the flat line.

While London was enjoying a bank holiday, the Dow Jones and S&P 500 both hit record highs on Wall Street, up 0.7% and 0.6% respectively. Confidence in tech stocks saw the Nasdaq jump 1.2% and the small cap index, the Russell 2000, also climbed 1.2%.

Investors believe the US economic recovery will continue despite a surge in Covid cases over the holiday season.

Thomas Hayes, managing member at Great Hill Capital in New York, said: “The market is looking through Omicron… it’s something we can live with, like the seasonal flu.”

All of Wall Street’s main indexes ended 2021 with monthly, quarterly and annual gains, recording their biggest three-year advance since 1999.

The benchmark S&P 500 added 27% in 2021 and reported 70 record-high closes. The Dow added 18.7% for the year and the Nasdaq gained 21.4%.

Tesla billionaire Elon Musk’s fortune jumped by $32.1 billion as shares of his electric vehicle maker soared. The world’s richest person, Musk is now worth a staggering $303.7 billion.

Tesla rose 12% after the company’s quarterly deliveries exceeded Wall Street estimates, riding out global chip shortages as it ramped up production in China. Full story here.

Apple became the first company with a $3 trillion (€2.6 trillion) stock market value, lifted by investors’ confidence that the iPhone maker will keep launching best-selling products.

On the first day of trading in 2022, the Silicon Valley company’s shares hit a record of $182.88 around midday. Full story here.

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