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Stocks slump on woeful results, St James's Place and Halfords plunge

Published 28/02/2024, 12:07
Updated 28/02/2024, 12:07
© Reuters FTSE 100 live: Stocks slump on woeful results, St James's Place and Halfords plunge

Proactive Investors -

  • FTSE 100 down 50 points at 7,633
  • St James Place tumbles after making large complaints provision
  • Bitcoin continues strong rally to near $60,000

Also weighing on the FTSE this morning are falls for the mining sector, meaning the London benchmark is lagging behind its European counterparts.

Miners are coming under pressure, says market analyst Joshua Mahony at IG, as "Chinese concerns re-emerge thanks to yet another real estate warning sign from Country Garden".

Country Garden received a liquidation petition after a non-payment on a $205 million loan, which Mahony said will set back Beijing's efforts to restore confidence in the beleaguered real estate sector.

The company said in a regulatory filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange it would "resolutely" oppose the petition that had been filed by a creditor that is part of fellow Hong Kong-listed outfit Kingboard Holdings.

Country Garden's shares closed down 12.5% in Hong Kong.

Bitcoin's mega rally

Bitcoin is approaching $60,000, up over 4% today and what has been the strongest surge since the pandemic.

The world’s largest cryptocurrency has added over 13.5% against the US dollar week on week, bringing the BTC/USD to $59,397 at the time of writing.

It marks the first time bitcoin has surged above $59,000 since the unprecedented bull run in November 2021.

Bitcoin bulls are now eyeing up $69,000, which is where the cryptocurrency’s all-time high is currently set, according to our daily crypto report.

Ooh-aar Tata electric cars

Somerset has been confirmed as the planned site of what will be the UK's biggest electric vehicle battery factory, by Jaguar Land Rover's Indian owner.

Tata Group says battery production is set to begin from the plant near Bridgwater in Somerset in 2026, which has been secured by its Agratas battery business.

Costing £4 billion and situated on a brownfield site, the plant is expected to create around 4,000 jobs and many more in the supply chain.

Last summer, Tata confirmed the plans after saying it had secured hundreds of millions in UK government funding, thought to be roughly £500 million.

The site of the 'gigafactory' was confirmed today as being the Gravity Smart Campus in Puriton, the site of a former WW2 munitions factory.

With a planned capacity to produce 40 gigawatt hours (GWh) of battery cells a year, Agratas said it expects the factory will by the early 2030s be able to supply almost half of the required capacity by the UK auto sector.

Halfords hits the skids

Halfords Group PLC (LON:HFD) shares are now down 30% after it reported a "further material weakening" in three of its four core markets – cycling, retail motoring and consumer tyres.

Liberum analyst Adam Tomlinson said this was an unscheduled trading update, with PBT guidance cut 25%, which follows the previous trim only a month ago.

"This is clearly another disappointing update and we expect the shares to suffer today. The negative earnings momentum continues to reinforce our long-held view that the group’s medium-term PBT target of £90m-110m is very stretching," he said.

In the near-term, he notes that inventory levels stand some 30-50% higher than pre-COVID levels, "which may bring further earnings pressure through the need to clear inventory".

Read more on Proactive Investors UK

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