Banks lead the fallers in reaction to Brexit deal

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Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LON:LLOY) and fellow UK-focused banks NatWest Group PLC (LON:NWG) and Barclays PLC (LON:BARC) were the biggest FTSE fallers as the market reopened after Christmas.

Lloyds was down 4% to 37.05p, NatWest down 3% to 163.8p and Barclays down 2.4% to 150.84p, while HSBC PLC (LON:HSBA) and Virgin Money UK PLC (LON:VMUK) were both down 0.5% and Standard Chartered PLC (LON:STAN) 0.3% lower.

Analysts said the Brexit trade deal agreed by Boris Johnson and his advisers on Christmas Eve was the likely cause of these share price falls, which reversed some of the gains seen earlier in December.

Asset managers including St James’s Place PLC (LON:STJ), Ninety One PLC (LON:N91) and Investec PLC (LON:INVP) were also in the red.

Worries about the potential long term impact on financial services are weighing on the wider sector, as well as rising concerns about the economic impact of many weeks of lockdowns, said analyst Susannah Streeter at Hargreaves Lansdown.

The falls for banks and other parts of the financial services sector “suggests that nerves remain over what deal will be struck in 2021 when it comes to financial services and indeed services overall, which provides a far greater percentage of UK GDP (and the Government’s tax take) than fishing or manufacturing”, said AJ Bell’s Russ Mould.

He said the lack of visibility over the post-Brexit trade in services “could continue to nibble away at sentiment until a further agreement is reached”.

11.26am: Ilika responds to recent share price gain

Ilika PLC (LON:IKA) shares jumped 27% to 252.5p, prompting the company to put out a statement about the share price movement.

It was essentially “don’t ask me, guv” statement, with the company hinting that the growing interest in solid-state batteries in the media in recent weeks regarding their future potential in automotive applications might be behind the share price movement.

The company said it is leaving its full-year guidance unchanged and cautioned that while the board is confident about the prospects for the company’s Goliath larger format batteries, mass-market commercialisation is dependent on further technical development and successful manufacturing scale-up.

10.30am: Argo soars as it applies to have its shares traded on OTCQB

Argo Blockchain PLC (LON:ARB) shares ere the top risers in London, soaring 84%to 35p after the company applied to have its shares cross-traded publicly on the US OTCQB Venture Market.

If the application is successful, the shares will carry the ticket ARBKF.

Argo said the move would make the cryptocurrency miner’s shares more widely available to North American investors and would have no impact on trading in the shares on London’s main market.

9.30am: MyHealthChecked ready for take-off after coronavirus test gets green light

MyHealthChecked PLC (LON:MHC) jumped 24% to 1.8p after its “fit to fly” coronavirus (COVID-19) test received official approval from the UK government.

Concepta Diagnostics’ MyHealthChecked COVID-19 testing service has been added to the UK Government’s approved COVID-19 private testing providers list for general testing, and the ‘Test to Release for International Travel’ scheme introduced on December 15.

The ‘Test to Release’ scheme is a UK Government-backed programme, designed to reduce quarantine periods for travellers arriving in the UK. Through the ‘Test to Release’ scheme, passengers have the opportunity to pay for a COVID-19 test through the list of approved private providers, to find out if they are able to reduce the self-isolation period after international travel.

Shares in Vector Capital Plc (LON:VCAP) rose to 39.5p on their first day of dealings, up 3.9% on the flotation price of 38p.

Vector Capital, a commercial lending group that offers secured loans primarily to businesses located in the United Kingdom, came to AIM via a placing of shares that raised £3.1mln for the company.

The company has a market capitalisation of around £16.6mln.

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