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Investment market update

Early Trading

UK stocks are expected to open higher this morning after posting a triple digit rise on Friday, as global equities rallied on the Bank of Japan’s monetary easing policy and crude prices gained.

World Markets

Asian stocks rose, with the regional benchmark index heading for its fourth day of advances, as shares in Tokyo extended Friday’s rally after the Bank of Japan stepped up its monetary stimulus.

US stocks closed higher, boosted by positive global central bank actions. Microsoft was a bright spot for the Nasdaq, its shares gained 5.8% and office-supply company Xerox also saw its share price rise 5.6% after it announced it would split into two companies.

UK stocks also closed higher with the FTSE 100 seeing its steepest gain of the year. All but three stocks in the benchmark advanced, with trading volume 37% above its 30-day average.

Headlines

Ryanair Holdings Plc doubled fiscal third-quarter earnings as passenger numbers surged and said it will return $868 million to investors via a share-buyback program. Profit after tax increased to €103 million in the three months ended Dec. 31 from €49 million a year earlier, aided by a 25% surge in passenger numbers to 20 million.

Hedge funds increased bullish oil bets by the most since 2010 as prices climbed to a three-week high. West Texas Intermediate crude futures capped a second weekly gain and have surged 27% from a 12-year low, spurred by speculation that Russia and OPEC may discuss oil production.

British telecoms regulator Ofcom has urged Brussels to block the proposed merger of telecoms operators O2 and Three, which it fears will send mobile phone bills for users in the UK sharply higher. Ofcom chief executive Sharon White said the merger of two of Britain’s four operators could also hit rival high-street retailers and upset existing network arrangements.

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