Interactive Investor

Must read: FTSE 100 retreats, oil, bitcoin, gold, 888, Spotify

Our head of investment rounds up the morning's big news.

4th December 2023 09:13

by Victoria Scholar from interactive investor

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      GLOBAL MARKETS

      After the FTSE 100 rallied to a six-week high on Friday, the index is giving back some gains this morning, underperforming broader gains across Europe. London-listed miners are leading the losses with Anglo American (LSE:AAL), Rio Tinto Registered Shares (LSE:RIO), and Glencore (LSE:GLEN) near the bottom of the UK blue-chip index. 

      BP (LSE:BP.) and Shell (LSE:SHEL) are also suffering, weighed down by softer oil prices. Oil is under pressure for the third straight session, with Brent crude and WTI both shedding over 1% each, pressured by the weak global demand backdrop and doubts about the extent to which OPEC+ plans to implement its supply cuts. 

      Overnight it was a mixed picture for indices in Asia – China’s CSI 300 hit a near 5-year low while the ASX in Australia bucked the negativity.  

      It is an important week the US labour market data with the JOLTs figures, ADP employment data as well as the all-important non-farm payrolls report on Friday. The S&P 500 hit a fresh 2023 high on Friday, but US futures are pointing to a softer open at lunchtime. 

      BITCOIN

      Bitcoin continues to stage gains, surpassing $40k for the first time since May 2022. It is currently trading around $41,700, up around 10% since Thursday and up over 50% in the past six months. A combination of growing expectations for regulatory approval for a bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF), a more dovish outlook from the Federal Reserve, and the countdown to next year’s bitcoin halving have provided a trio of tailwinds for the most widely traded cryptocurrency. Other cryptos are also staging gains like XRP, Litecoin, Bitcoin cash and Ethereum which is up around 4% today and over 20% in the past month. 

      The crypto winter appears to be well and truly over, with positive price action coming back into play off the lows around a year ago. However, there is still a long upward climb ahead to retest the pandemic fuelled highs from 2021. 

      GOLD

      Gold hit an all-time high for the second day in a row today, surpassing $2,100 per ounce. So far this year, the precious metal is up around 13.5% and has gained around 5% in the past month. Concerns about the shaky global economic backdrop and the Israel-Hamas conflict have fuelled investor demand for safe-haven assets like gold. Plus, expectations for Fed rate cuts next year have put downward pressure on the US dollar which is trading around three-month lows, adding to gold’s attractiveness.

      A recent survey from the World Gold Council found that 24% of all central banks plan to up their gold reserves in the next year, which could fuel further upside for gold in 2024. 

      888

      According to The Sunday Times, 888 Holdings (LSE:888) was the target of a £700 million takeover in July by Playtech (LSE:PTEC) at a price of 156p a share. However, the offer was rejected for undervaluing the company. 

      The M&A speculation has skyrocketed shares in William Hill’s parent company today which is trading up by around 13%. 888 currently has a market cap or around £355 million, sharply below the reported offer price from Playtech. 

      Shares in 888 have had a tough time this year, shedding over 20% year-on-year even after today’s surge and 50% in the past five years, highlighting the potential for an opportunistic takeover. Playtech is not the only party reported to be interested - in November, the Financial Times reported that US betting group DraftKings Inc Ordinary Shares - Class A (NASDAQ:DKNG) was also eyeing up a bid for 888 over the summer.  

      888 has suffered a series of setbacks lately with a profit warning in September, UK regulatory headwinds amid a clampdown on player safety, and a series of C-suite changes including the departure of its former CEO in January which sent shares tumbling at the time.

      SPOTIFY 

      Spotify Technology SA (NYSE:SPOT) is planning to reduce its total headcount by approximately 17% across the company, equivalent to around 1,500 positions. This is the company’s third round of job cuts this year, having already laid off 6% of its staff in January as well as 200 podcast jobs in June.

      The digital music service said it wants to right size its costs in order to achieve its financial goals. In October, Spotify reported improving financials - better than expected monthly active users and subscribers as well as its first quarterly profit since 2021. In an expensive move, it has been investing heavily in the expansion of its podcast business. Plus it has been grappling with ‘dramatically’ slowing economic growth, a weak consumer backdrop and ballooning costs.  

      Shares in Spotify could open higher today, extending this year’s sharp rebound, with the stock up over 120% year-to-date. However, shares are still trading substantially lower than their Covid-era highs after a painful period for price action between the 2021 highs and the lows at the start of this year after the 2022 ‘tech-wreck’.

      These articles are provided for information purposes only.  Occasionally, an opinion about whether to buy or sell a specific investment may be provided by third parties.  The content is not intended to be a personal recommendation to buy or sell any financial instrument or product, or to adopt any investment strategy as it is not provided based on an assessment of your investing knowledge and experience, your financial situation or your investment objectives. The value of your investments, and the income derived from them, may go down as well as up. You may not get back all the money that you invest. The investments referred to in this article may not be suitable for all investors, and if in doubt, an investor should seek advice from a qualified investment adviser.

      Full performance can be found on the company or index summary page on the interactive investor website. Simply click on the company's or index name highlighted in the article.

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