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Markets fight back

by LLB Reporter
20th Jan 23 10:00 am

Despite another miserable showing on Wall Street last night, Friday saw a brighter end to the week for investors. European stocks pushed forward alongside a good showing from parts of Asia, including a 1.8% rise in Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index as investors bid up energy and internet stocks.

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: “The FTSE 100 was lifted by oil producers, miners, banks and utility companies. Investors noted price strength among major commodities which would support earnings for natural resources producers. Brent Crude oil rose by 1% to $87.02 per barrel while copper this week hit its highest level since June 2022 on hopes for an increase in demand linked to China’s reopening and amid low inventories.

“While data suggests inflation is easing in parts of the world, many central banks are still intent on raising interest rates further which creates an opportunity for banks to improve earnings, as long as they aren’t stung by rising bad debts in a recession. SSE also brought some cheer to the utility sector with upgraded earnings guidance.

“Promotional products group 4Imprint extended a storming run for its share price as demand continues to be strong in the US. The valuation of the company has more than doubled since June 2022, helped by operational leverage benefits. When a business has relatively fixed costs, a rise in revenue will result in an even higher increase in profit.

“Maternity-wear group Seraphine could soon be leaving the stock market after receiving a premium-priced takeover bid. While the near-200% one-day increase in its share price to 29p looks very impressive, it still only values the business at a fraction of the 295p per share price at which it joined the stock market in July 2021. Seraphine has struggled over the past 18 months from rising costs and falling revenue.”

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