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Investment market update

Early Trading

UK stocks have opened higher this morning following a rise in Chinese shares. Focus will be on the US later today as the monthly jobs report is due to be released.

World Markets

Asian markets closed mixed on Friday after swinging between gains and losses following early volatility in Chinese shares. The Shanghai Composite Index closed 2% higher after the government suspended a controversial circuit breaker system, the central bank set a higher yuan fix and state-controlled funds were said to buy equities.

US and UK stocks fell on the back of the volatility in China. In the US, technology stocks suffered as Apple was downgraded. Apple fell 4.2%, Amazon 3.9%, Facebook 4.9%, and Google parent Alphabet 2.3%. In the UK, mining stocks featured most amongst the fallers, led by Anglo American, which lost 11%.

Headlines

German industrial production unexpectedly fell in November, led by investment goods, in a sign that a slowdown in emerging markets such as China and Brazil may weigh on economic growth.

M&S chief executive Marc Bolland is to step down in April, the company said as it announced its Christmas results. Mr Bolland will be succeeded by Steve Rowe, executive director of general merchandise. Third-quarter sales of general merchandise were down by 5.8% for the 13 weeks to 26 December. But M&S said it had an ‘excellent quarter’ for food, with record sales in the Christmas week. Investors reacted positively, with M&S shares rising more than 1% in morning trading.

Saudi Arabia may sell shares in state energy giant Saudi Aramco, the largest oil producer, creating what could be the world’s most valuable company. In an interview in the Economist, deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman said the move was being ‘reviewed’. ‘We believe a decision will be made over the next few months,’ he said. Aramco has crude reserves of about 265bn barrels – more than 15% of global deposits – and with falling oil prices a sale would raise revenues for Saudi.

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