What to watch: Eurozone GDP beats expectations, cannabis and Virgin Wines IPOs, global bull run

Tom Belger
·Finance and policy reporter
·4-min read
Reflection of European flags while a man enters a building. Flags of Europe waving as seen on a pole. The European Flag is the symbol of Council of Europe COE and the European Union EU as seen in the Belgian capital in front of modern architecture buildings with glass and steel construction the Le Berlaymont building, European Commission headquarters next to Forum Europa at the European Quarter in Brussels, where the headquarters of the pan-European institutions and organizations are located. Brussels, Belgium on October 2020 (Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
European employment and GDP figures were better than expected. Photo: Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

Here are the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and abroad:

Eurozone Q4 GDP falls less than expected

Official figures published on Tuesday show less-damaging-than-feared growth and jobs data in Europe.

GDP in the euro area dropped by 0.6% in the fourth quarter of 2020 as a second wave of the coronavirus hit the continent, according to Eurostat. Analysts had expected a 0.7% decline.

Meanwhile the official employment count rose by 0.3%, versus expectations of only a 0.1% rise.

The GDP decline comes after the sharpest fall since records began in 1995 in the second quarter as the pandemic struck last year, followed by a 12.4% rebound in the third quarter as governments eased restrictions.

London's first cannabis IPO sees shares double on debut

The first cannabis business to IPO on the London Stock Exchange has seen its shares double on debut, underlining the appetite among UK investors to gain exposure to the fast-growing sector.

Shares in Kanabo (KNB.L) hit just over 20p shortly after the open on Tuesday, as the stock officially began trading in London. The stock was still up 60% after around 20 minutes of trade, changing hands at 16.30p.

Kanabo makes vaporised marijuana pods and inhalers for medicinal use. The Israeli company also makes CBD products for the "wellness" market.

Kanabo is the first cannabis company to hold an initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange after the UK's financial watchdog last year cleared the way for legal weed businesses to join the market.

Virgin Wines latest UK firm to announce IPO

Virgin Wines, which describes itself as one of the UK's largest direct-to-consumer online wine retailers, is the latest startup to announce plans to float on the London Stock Exchange (LSEG.L). It plans to do so around 2 March in a move that would reportedly value it at £100m ($140m).

The company sells “award-winning and largely exclusive premium wines” through its WineBank and Wine Plan subscription schemes as well as on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Chief executive Jay Wright said: “We have enjoyed strong, consistent growth recently resulting in the group delivering more than 1 million cases of wine to consumers during 2020. We have a clear strategy to continue this growth over the coming years."

Virgin Wines was established in 2000 as part of the Virgin Group owned by Richard Branson. It was acquired by Direct Wines in 2005. In 2013, Direct Wines sold the business to the then current management team, backed by private equity, for £14m.

Global stocks on track for longest bull run since 2003

European stocks opened higher on Tuesday, as global financial markets headed for their longest bull run since 2003.

Economic recovery hopes fuelled by coronavirus vaccine developments continued to spur the rally in equities.

Britain’s FTSE 100 (^FTSE) jumped 0.6% as prime minister Boris Johnson said he was "hopeful" lockdown restrictions could be eased in the coming weeks as Britain's vaccine rollout continues at pace. Daily reported infections fell below 10,000 for the first time since 2 October. The FTSE had surged 2.5% on Monday.

The Europe-wide Stoxx 600 (^STOXX) index, Germany’s DAX (^GDAXI) and France’s CAC 40 (^FCHI) were all 0.1% higher in early trading. The DAX had hit an all-time high on Monday, while the CAC and the Stoxx 600 had reached their highest levels since the pandemic began.

"The global reflation theme continued apace yesterday, and risk assets showed continued strength across multiple asset classes," said Deutsche Bank analyst Jim Reid.

"The MSCI World Index, which includes a range of developed world equities, rose for an 11th straight session, marking the longest winning streak for the index since January 2018. If it manages to notch a 12th gain today, it’ll become the longest winning run since December 2003."

It came after strong trading in Asia and elsewhere earlier in the session. The Nikkei in Japan (^N225) rose 1.3% to a three-decade high on better-than-expected GDP data, while MSCI's index of Asia-Pacific shares excluding Japan was up 0.6%.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.8%. Markets in mainland China were shut for the Lunar New Year holiday.

US stocks looked set for gains after Monday's President's Day holiday. S&P 500 (ES=F) futures were up 0.5%, and Dow (YM=F) futures 0.4% higher as markets opened in Europe, and Nasdaq (NQ=F) futures up 0.4%.

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