Market Report: Have clouds cleared for Asos?


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The Independent Online

Have the clouds cleared for Asos?

Exane says the online fashion retailer had “a year to forget” in 2014, after being whacked by foreign exchange rates and suffering a massive warehouse fire. But now the investment bank believes “Asos is back” and  set to “return to global growth” in 2015 after resolving currency issues and getting its technology updates back on track. Exane hiked its target price for Asos from 2,600p to 4,000p and that endorsement helped the retailer recover from a tough week in which the chief executive Nick Robertson sold a £20m stake and Liberum told investors to sell. Asos climbed 234p to 2,747p.

The FTSE 100 ended the week on a downbeat note, closing 61.2 points lower at 6,749.4. Tony Cross, market analyst at Trustnet Direct, said: “The US fourth-quarter GDP reading injected a degree of panic after it came in well below expectations – proof that tanking oil prices are taking a toll. The upshot was a degree of defensive buying, with gold finding favour as a safe haven.” Goldminers topped the blue-chip index, with Randgold Resources rising 265p to 5,685p and Fresnillo 36.5p to 899p.

Two commodities companies found relief yesterday. The cash-starved oil explorer Afren enjoyed its first day of gains in nine trading sessions after announcing that the deadline for takeover talks with Nigeria’s Seplat has been extended until 13 February. That means a deal could still be on the cards and Afren rose 1.1p to 5.3p.

Meanwhile Kenmare Resources was granted an 11th-hour reprieve. The Irish miner, which has operations in Mozambique, has extended the deadline for talks with lenders over restructuring its debt. Kenmare, which has been hit hard by the downturn in commodity prices, now has until the end of February to conclude talks. The company, up 0.28p at 3.31p, announced a 42 per cent rise in ore mined last year.

Most small oil and gas operators are struggling at the moment, but Magnolia Petroleum bucked the trend. The explorer, with projects in Oklahoma and Dakota, said an independent reserves report estimated that it is sitting on $27m worth of oil. The shares leapt 0.06p to 0.63p.