Market overview: AstraZeneca tops leaderboard in last minute sprint

Sharecast

LONDON (ShareCast) - 1630:Close UK stocks ended the session lower despite a late sprint higher in shares of AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN - news) on the heel of reports that famed investor Neil Woodford has selected the group "as the single biggest investment for his new fund", according to The Daily Telegraph. Stock in Tullow was to be found at the bottom of the pile on the Footsie and AO World (Other OTC: AOWDF - news) in the worst spot on the FTSE 250. Critically, perhaps, on Sunday Goldman Sachs brought forward the expected date for the Federal Reserve's first interest rate hike. Acting as a backdrop, some economists warned that the latest German industrial production figures might herald that the recovery in the Eurozone economy could falter. Over the weekend Ukrainian forces achieved various military successes against pro-Russian militants. FTSE 100 down 43 to 6,824.

1403: How far will Putin go in Ukraine? That is the biggest risk for the economic outlook in Europe, writes Holger Schmieding from Berenberg. A first military succcess by Ukraine over the weekend may bring matters to a head soon. "We have to watch the risk very carefully again," Schmieding explains to clients.

1356: Shares (Frankfurt: DI6.F - news) of Kazakhmys (LSE: KAZ.L - news) have made an attempt in today's session at taking out technical resistance at 325p, hitting an intra-day high of 330.1p at one point. A weekly close above 325p would constitute a clear signal of strength, technical analysts at Sharecast point out.

1336: US stock futures are 0.1-0.2% lower ahead of the opening bell as Wall Street traders return to their desks in a cautious mood following the three-day weekend with indices at record highs. Investors are also assessing a report by Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS-PB - news) which saw analysts bring forward their prediction for the first rate rise to the third quarter of 2015. They had previously expected a tightening in the first quarter of 2016.

1105: Bank of America believes the projected growth of 7% in easyJet's capacity in the second half of this year - over twice the pace expected at competitors - will hit the company's pricing power. The stall in upwards revisions to consensus earnings targets seems to indicate others see this risk as well. However, after having fallen by a quarter from this year's peak the shares have already discounted much of that supply concern. "Enough waiting at the gate for bad news. Look to board," say the FT's Lex column. FTSE 100 down 13 to 6,853.



1053: Copper futures moved lower in early trading following the latest daily data from the LME which showed stockpiles of the metal rose by 1.8% to 159,350 metric tonnes, according to Bloomberg.

0925: On an otherwise subdued morning, Weir Group is a standout performer, rising 2.5% at 2,783p, after Citigroup (NYSE: C - news) upgraded its rating from 'neutral' to 'buy' and hiked its target price from 2,600p to 3,100p. The bank said that Weir "deserves a premium rating to the sector to reflect positive exposure to structural trends in oil and gas, further earnings upgrade potential and improving returns".

0845: UK stocks have begun the week with a very slight retreat as investors position themselves ahead of a barrage of economic data from China and Thursday's meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee. There is also a fair amount of interest in Wednesday's US Fed minutes. Weir is the best performer in the early going, benefiting from a price target upgrade out of analysts at Citi to 3,100p from 2,600p beforehand. Credit Suisse (NYSE: CS - news) has reiterated its 'outperform' recommendation on Rio Tinto (Xetra: 855018 - news) . To take note of, stocks on Spain's junior stock market, the MAB, have encountered heavy selling after the CEO of broadband communications specialist Gowex over the weekend admitted to falsifying the company's annual accounts and announced his resignation. The latest industrial production figures out of Germany and Spain have come in well below forecasts. FTSE 100 down 1 to 6,865.

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