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London open: Banking stocks buoy markets early on

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UK markets opened higher on Monday morning though gains were only slight as investors continued to digest Friday’s surprise plunge in US non-farm payrolls.

Banking stocks were providing a lift in London on the back of an easing of a rule by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision.

The FTSE 100 was up just 0.2% at around 6,750 in early trading.

The December US jobs report revealed that just 74,000 jobs were added last month, significantly below the 241,000 recorded in November and well below what was expected by analysts.

The big miss has sparked uncertainty regarding the future of the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing programme, which it started to taper at last month’s meeting in the face of an improving labour market.

Alex Conroy, Financial Trader at Spreadex, said before the open that a rebound on markets is expected today “as concerns that accelerated tapering may be on the cards […] were eased by the surprisingly poor non-farm results”.

However, he added: “Some investors are attributing the poor non-farm data to the unusual weather that has been affecting the US, which means there could be accelerated tapering fears were not completely dispelled.”

Banks gain, oil stocks fall

Banks across Europe were making decent gains early on after Basel eased the terms of a rule on institutions’ leverage ratios, reducing the pressure on banks to raise more capital to meet requirements.

Meanwhile, the industry will be in focus this week ahead of the start of the reporting season in the US, with JPMorgan Chase & Co, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Citigroup all expected to report their fourth-quarter earnings in the coming days.

UK lenders Barclays, Lloyds and RBS were all in demand in London.

Heading the other way were oil stocks with Tullow, BP and Shell tracking the price of crude lower.

Oilfield services group AMEC, however, was higher after saying it would buy Switzerland-based rival Foster Wheeler for £1.9bn. AMEC said that the combination of the businesses “is a compelling proposition for all shareholders”.

Sector peer Petrofac was also up despite announcing that the head of its Integrated Energy Services division is to leave next month to run US-listed Kosmos Energy.

Supermarket group Morrison was a high riser as it continued to recover after a steep fall last week following a bigger-than-expected drop in like-for-like sales over Christmas.

The share price of department store Debenhams advanced after High Street peer Sports Direct bought a 4.6% stake in the company, saying that it is exploring options for the retailers to work together.

FTSE 100 – Risers
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 244.30p +3.47%
Amec (AMEC) 1,114.00p +3.24%
Barclays (BARC) 290.05p +2.27%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 364.60p +2.16%
ITV (ITV) 203.60p +2.06%
GKN (GKN) 392.10p +1.98%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 463.00p +1.67%
Carnival (CCL) 2,594.00p +1.65%
Aviva (AV.) 477.60p +1.64%
Experian (EXPN) 1,124.00p +1.54%

FTSE 100 – Fallers
Tullow Oil (TLW) 899.00p -1.15%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,464.00p -0.95%
G4S (GFS) 248.40p -0.92%
SSE (SSE) 1,355.00p -0.66%
Pearson (PSON) 1,313.00p -0.61%
BP (BP.) 494.10p -0.58%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 4,652.00p -0.56%
National Grid (NG.) 777.50p -0.51%
Royal Dutch Shell ‘A’ (RDSA) 2,179.00p -0.50%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,466.00p -0.48%

Source: ShareCast