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open: Stocks slip on China and oil price worries

UK stocks fell on Thursday as concerns over China’s
troubles escalated and as oil prices collapsed. Chinese trading in mainland markets was halted for the day after shares fell
more than 7% for the second time this week.The country’s “circuit-breaker” rule kicked in the first 30 minutes
of trading, making it the shortest ever trading day.

“Combine China’s current chaos with the backbone-less (and
China-exacerbated) performance from Brent Crude (which, after falling 6%
yesterday, has collapsed by a further 4.5% this morning to hit a fresh 11 year
low) and the global indices have been left in the midst of what is arguably
their most calamitous week since the storied trading of last August,” said
Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex.At 0901 GMT, Brent crude fell 3.7% to $33.01 per barrel and West Texas
Intermediate dropped 4.2% to $32.58 per barrel.

On the macro-economic data front, German factory orders rose 2.1% in November
compared to a year ago, beating expectations for a 1.1% increase. German retail gained 2.3% year-on-year in November, trailing estimates for a
3.7% jump. UK house prices rose more than forecast in December, rising 1.7% from a month
ago, compared to estimates of 0.5%. Still to come, a batch of Eurozone reports are due including on retail sales,
consumer confidence and unemployment. In afternoon trade, US initial jobless
claims are due.

In company news, Marks
& Spencer
gained after reporting a mixed trading statement
and saying chief executive Mark Bolland will retire this year and hand the
baton to well-regarded merchandise chief Steve Rowe. Mining stocks were under pressure on China woes, including Anglo American, BHP Billiton, Glencore and Rio Tinto.  Oil producers were also under the cosh on the price slump, including Royal Dutch Shell, BG Group, Tullow Oil and Nostrum Oil & GasHSBC
rebounded after receiving a downgrade from JP Morgan to ‘underweight’ from

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