• Signs of positivity in the US after yesterday’s Ukraine / Russia talks.
• S&P 500 closed up 1.2%, the Dow Jones rose just under 1%, and Nasdaq had an even more positive run, closing up almost 2%.
“Yesterday’s ceasefire talks dragged US markets higher before the close, with hopes of meaningful progress on the cards. Interestingly, it was the tech-heavy Nasdaq that responded best, with its particular exposure to high-growth stocks especially sensitive to wider economic rumblings. Despite the transatlantic progress, oil prices have nudged higher again this morning – the first such move in three days. It shouldn’t be forgotten though, the overall trend is still a downwards one from the highs experienced in recent weeks.
The introduction of jitters to the oil market likely comes from the uncertainty surrounding the Ukraine situation. Talks of Russia’s de-escalation pledges being unreliable, as well as fresh allegations of explosions outside Kyiv, have taken their toll on market sentiment. The FTSE 100 has opened broadly flat, reflecting the uncertainty that continues to swirl.
• Oil fails to follow in the positive footsteps of the wider market, with the oil price rising over 1%, for the first time in three days.
• Outsourced gaming industry supplier, Keywords Studios, reports a strong end to the year thanks to exceptional demand.
• Russia-linked gold and silver miner, Polymetal, warns over dividends, but shares soar on a glimmer of good news.
FTSE 100 remains flat on open, as tentative hopes of a Russian scale-back continue, but huge uncertainty remains.
Zooming in to some of the specific stock stories on the UK market today, outsourced gaming industry supplier, Keywords Studios, has posted a remarkable end to the year. The shares are up over 4%, in opposition to the overall subdued market mood this morning. The boom in demand for gaming seen over the last couple of years has helped full-year revenue and profit rise 37% and 56%, to €512m and €86m respectively. The group’s buoyed by the fact that, as a supplier, it’s not beholden to the success of any single gaming title, but instead benefits from overall industry growth-of which, which there are plenty of these days.
Following news that Polymetal is contemplating spinning out its Russian operations to help protect the rest of the group from sanctions, it today warned of the “significant funding and regulatory uncertainty”. In light of these conditions, dividends are likely to have slipped to the bottom of management’s priority list. Despite this, the shares have jumped over 9% amid news that sales of gold bullion in Russia have been restored to new counterparties.”