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Trending tickers: Bitcoin, Baidu, Direct Line and Kingfisher

The latest investor updates on stocks that are trending on Monday

FILE PHOTO: Representations of cryptocurrency Bitcoin are seen in this illustration, August 10, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
Bitcoin was on the rise again after losses last week. (Reuters / Reuters)

Bitcoin (BTC-USD)

The price of Bitcoin gained 4% on Monday, almost touching $67,000 (£53,153), amid continued demand for spot Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

BlackRock (BLK) and Fidelity Investment’s spot Bitcoin ETFs — IBIT and FBTC — have become the most popular funds the two asset managers currently offer in less than 50 days of trading, based on data shared by Bloomberg ETF analyst Eric Balchunas.

Read more: FTSE 100 LIVE: Shares across Europe tepid after strong week

Investors are also keen for an event in April that is known as Bitcoin's "halving", when the issuance of new tokens will be cut in half, further supporting prices at a time when demand has been rising.

Baidu (9888.HK)

Stocks in the e-commerce giant surged after reports that Apple (AAPL) held early talks with the Chinese company to use its AI technology.

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According to a report from Chinese media Cailian Press, Baidu will become Apple’s local generative AI model provider for the iPhone 16, the Mac computer operating system and the upcoming mobile operating system iOS 18.

Read more: Stocks that are trending today

Apple has been seeking a generative AI partner in China because the Asian nation "requires such models to be vetted by its cyberspace regulator before being launched to the public," the Wall Street Journal reported, citing unnamed sources.

Direct Line (DLG.L)

Direct Line shares tumbled as it insisted it was confident in its standalone prospects after Belgium’s Ageas (AGS.BR) said it would not be making an offer for the insurer following two failed attempts at engaging with the board.

"As communicated at Direct Line Group's 2023 preliminary results on 21 March 2024, the board believes under Adam Winslow's leadership the company is well-positioned to drive material improvement in performance that is expected to unlock significant value for Direct Line Group shareholders," the London-listed insurer said.

In February, Ageas confirmed it was exploring the possibility of making a £3.1bn offer for Direct Line Insurance Group.

“We had hoped to reach agreement on a jointly recommended firm offer together with the Direct Line board,” Ageas chief executive Hans De Cuyper said.

“However, I am convinced that, given the circumstances, we took the right decision not to make an offer, staying true to who we are and what we stand for in terms of maintaining a friendly approach and respecting our financial discipline.”

Kingfisher (KGF.L)

B&Q owner Kingfisher has revealed annual profits slumped by more than a quarter and warned over another steep fall in earnings this year as it overhauls its French arm to help revive its fortunes.

The group reported a 25.1% drop in underlying pre-tax profits to £568m for the year to 31 January.

Kingfisher, which owns the Screwfix chain and brands including Castorama and Brico Depot in France, said like-for-like sales tumbled by 5.9% in France and 7.7% elsewhere across Europe.

Read more: UK house prices offer worst value for money of any advanced economy

It said the UK and Ireland saw a more resilient performance, with sales up 0.8%, leaving overall group-wide sales down 3.1%.

The group has pared back sales declines so far in its new financial year, to a fall of 2.3%.

But it warned that profits are expected to drop again, to between £490m and £550m in 2024-25, below the £560m pencilled in by analysts.

Watch: Investors should stay 'valuation conscious': Strategist

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