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20/02/23 Briefing

FTSE 100 hovering above the 8,000 mark with volumes expected to be thin with US markets closed today. Photo: Getty ImagesThe FTSE 100 and European stocks were mixed this Monday with the UK blue chip index holding above the 8,000 level. The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) rose 0.15% to 8,016 during afternoon trading, while the CAC 40 (^FCHI) in Paris lost 0.10% to 7,342 points. In Germany, the DAX (^GDAXI) gained 0.1% to 15,496. FTSE 100 (^FTSE) View quote details FTSE Index - Delayed Quote (GBP) 8,017.41+13.05(+0.16%) As of 3:03PM GMT.Market open. Sports Direct owner Frasers Group (FRAS.L) jumped 2.92% after the retailer started an £80m ($96.2m) share buyback. Tesco (TSCO.L) was muted on reports the retailer was considering the sale of its banking arm. AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould, said: “Offloading Tesco’s banking arm makes perfect sense. Supermarkets should concentrate on grocery and core essentials that fall under general merchandise, such as frying pans, greetings cards and a small line of toys to keep the kids happy while their parents shop. Things that people can pop into their basket without much thought. “The days of consumer-facing companies offering a broad range of services to their customer base are long gone. Banking is a heavily regulated business and staff must keep on top of a lot of rules and complexity. The broader financial services space is highly competitive and requires significant investment in technology to improve systems. “Lloyds and Virgin Money might be interested in Tesco Bank and so might NatWest, which was previously the supermarket’s joint venture partner when its parent company used to go under the name of Royal Bank of Scotland. “Tesco is likely to be more interested in improving its supermarket experience and delivery capabilities than expand a banking business. With Aldi and Lidl snapping at its heels, it makes sense to streamline now.” Tesco PLC (TSCO.L) View quote details LSE - Delayed Quote (GBp) 250.80-0.10(-0.04%) As of 3:03PM GMT.Market open. NatWest (NWG.L) was among those under pressure as shares fell 0.21% after tumbling on Friday due to the lender’s cautious guidance on 2023 trading. Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L), which reports figures on Wednesday, rose1.57%. Susannah Streeter, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “There’s a quiet pulse of positivity on the markets with investors still cautious about the direction of interest rates in the United States, but hopeful that recovery elsewhere will lend a hand to trade.” Read more: Seven ways to save money on mobile phones and contract costs She added: “Volumes are set to be more muted during the sessions in Europe given that Wall Street is closed for the President’s Day holiday, so traders are likely to be searching around for a bit of a sense of direction today, looking ahead to fresh data out this week.” Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor, said: “The index remains protected by its mixture of defensive, higher yielding shares, with additional exposure to banks which are seeing the benefit of rising interest rates and mineral stocks which are poised to pounce on recovering demand from China as the year progresses.” Meanwhile, Brent crude (BZ=F) rose and was trading at around $84 per barrel as demand from China picks up, but further gains were limited by the US decision to sell oil from emergency stockpiles. Brent Crude Oil Last Day Financ (BZ=F) View quote details NY Mercantile - Delayed Quote (USD) 84.02+1.02(1.23%) At close:10:08AM ES In Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 (^N225) closed flat at 27,531 points, while the Hang Seng (^HSI) in Hong Kong gained 1.02% to 20,931. The Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) also edged higher, rising 2.06% to 3,290 points. Across the pond, stocks closed out another bumpy week on Friday with a mixed performance. The Dow Jones (^DJI) rose 0.39% to close at 33,826 points. The S&P 500 (^GSPC) lost 0.28% to finish at 4,079 points and the tech-heavy NASDAQ (^IXIC) lost 0.58% to 11,787. Read more: UK house prices stagnate as demand cools Recent data has revived worries that inflation in the United States is not cooling as quickly as hoped. This has shaken hopes the Federal Reserve might take it easier on interest rate hikes and avoid tipping the economy into recession US stock and bond markets were closed on Monday for President's Day.

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