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Falling gas prices and retail boost drives European markets higher

·3-min read

European markets made strong gains on Monday as they were boosted by easing gas prices and buoyant retail stocks.

In London, retailers including Tesco and Sainsbury’s have continued their strong rebound after the Government confirmed plans to freeze energy bills for households, boosting consumer spending power over the coming months.

The FTSE 100 increased to its highest level so far this month as a result

London’s top flight ended the day up 121,96 points, or 1.66%, at 7,473.03.

Meanwhile, the German Dax improved 2.4% by the end of the session and the French Cac finished 1.95% higher as progress by Ukrainian fighters over the weekend also aided sentiment.

“Friday’s resilient tone has continued into the new week, as falling natural gas prices in Europe, as well as hopes that we’ve seen a peak in US inflation, has helped to maintain and build on the rebound seen at the end of last week,” comment Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

In the US, it was a low-key opening but the main markets opened slightly higher as they followed the sentiment in Europe.

Meanwhile, sterling lifted again to its highest levels this month as it benefited from renewed weakness in the dollar, with a bounce-back in the UK economy shown in July’s GDP figures also supporting the UK currency.

The pound was up 0.96% against the dollar at 1.169 and was 0.09% higher against the euro at 1.154 at the close.

Hotel Chocolat public offering
Hotel Chocolat shares closed higher despite confirming the end of direct-to-consumer sales in the US (Philip Toscano/PA)

Elsewhere in company news, Serco shares slumped after the outsourcing giant confirmed its chief executive Rupert Soames will retire after leading the firm’s turnaround.

The chief executive said “it is now time to outsource myself” after nearly a decade at the business, which will now be led by Mark Irwin, a private equity veteran who has been at Serco since 2013.

Shares in the company finished 12.2p lower at 168p at the close of play.

Hotel Chocolat edged higher in value despite confirming it will stop sales to customers through its own websites in the US.

The London-listed retailer said it will end “US direct-to-consumer sales” via its website and stop its own warehousing and fulfilment operations in the country.

Nevertheless, it saw shares closed 0.5p higher at 137.5p.

Wagamama owner The Restaurant Group’s shares moved lower. The firm is expecting to see higher costs persist, raising profitability concerns (Wagamama/PA)

Wagamama owner The Restaurant Group finished in the red on Monday after brokers at Liberum cut their target price for the stock.

Analysts said the hospitality firm, which updated the market last week, is expecting to see higher costs persist at an elevated rate, raising concerns it could impact profitability. Shares moved 0.5p lower to 46p.

The price of oil climbed back slightly after last week hitting the lowest levels since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Brent crude oil increased by 1.99% to 94.69 US dollars per barrel when the London markets closed.

The biggest risers in the FTSE 100 were Kingfisher, up 15p at 257.1p, Sainsbury’s, up 11.8p at 214.4p, Howden Joinery, up 33.8p at 618.6p, Tesco, up 12.8p at 252.7p, and Ocado, up 39.8p at 796.6p.

The only four fallers of the day were M&G, down 2.4p at 201.7p, Pershing Square Holdings, down 20p at 2,855p, Melrose Industries, down 0.7p at 126.65p, and Imperial Brands, down 0.5p at 1,952p.