(Alliance News) - Stocks in London are called to open lower on Monday, setting off the week on the backfoot, with eyes on the US Federal Reserve's latest interest rate decision.

The US Fed will announce its latest interest rate decision on Wednesday this week. At the central bank's fourth meeting of 2024, the Fed is expected to leave interest rates unchanged.

In Europe, far-right parties made striking gains in EU elections on Sunday, while the ultimate losers were French President Emmanuel Macron – and the Greens, AFP reports.

In France, Macron's liberal party received a drubbing by France's National Rally led by Marine Le Pen. The French president responded by swiftly dissolving France's national parliament and calling for snap elections.

Here is what you need to know at the London market open:

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MARKETS

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FTSE 100: called down 0.8% at 8,176.00

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Nikkei 225: up 0.6% at 38,913.37

Financial markets in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Australia were closed on Monday for public holidays.

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DJIA: closed down 87.18 points, 0.2%, at 38,798.99

S&P 500: closed down 5.97 points, 0.1%, at 5,346.99

Nasdaq Composite: closed down 40.00 points, 0.2%, at 17,133.12

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EUR: down at USD1.0753 (USD1.0812)

GBP: down at USD1.2719 (USD1.2724)

USD: up at JPY157.04 (JPY156.82)

Gold: down at USD2,296.70 per ounce (USD2,312.90)

(Brent): down at USD79.76 a barrel (USD79.81)

(changes since previous London equities close)

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ECONOMICS

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Monday's key economic events still to come:

11:30 CEST Germany Deutsche Bundesbank President Joachim Nagel speaks

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Ireland's construction activity swung into decline in May, survey results from S&P Global showed. The headline seasonally adjusted BNP Paribas Real Estate Ireland construction total activity index edged down to 49.8 points in May from 53.2 in April. Falling below the neutral 50-point mark, the score indicates activity declined. Further, the housing activity index contracted to 52.0 points in May from 53.4 in April, indicating slowed growth. The commercial activity index fell to 51.4 points in May from 54.6 in April. The new orders index declined to 52.9 points in May from 53.9 in April. "Despite the pause in growth seen for total construction activity, work on housing and commercial projects continued to increase in May. In both cases, activity rose for the third month running, but at softer rates than in April. New orders continued to rise in May as firms again saw new business come in during the month. The latest expansion was the third in as many months, albeit slower than in April," S&P Global said.

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BROKER RATING CHANGES

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JPMorgan raises M&G to 'overweight' (neutral) - price target 250 (225) pence

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JPMorgan cuts Aviva to 'neutral' (overweight) - price target 550 (575) pence

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Peel hunt raises Computacenter to 'buy'

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COMPANIES - FTSE 100

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GSK announced that the US Food & Drug Administration has approved Arexvy, its respiratory syncytial virus vaccine, in adults 50 through 59 years of age who are at increased risk. The vaccine is for the prevention of RSV lower respiratory tract disease. In the US, the vaccine is currently approved for use in adults aged 60 and older. Tony Wood, chief scientific officer, said: "Today's approval reflects the importance of broadening the benefits of RSV immunisation to adults aged 50-59 who are at increased risk. For those with underlying medical conditions, RSV can have serious consequences, so we are proud to be the first to help protect them from RSV-LRTD."

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AstraZeneca's supplemental new drug application for Tagrisso has been accepted and granted priority review by the FDA in the US for the treatment of adult patients with unresectable, Stage III epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated non-small cell lung cancer after chemoradiotherapy. It said the decision was based on LAURA Phase III trial results, which extended median progression-free survival by more than three years. "Each year in the US, there are nearly 200,000 people diagnosed with lung cancer, and 80-85% of these patients are diagnosed with NSCLC, the most common form of lung cancer," Astra said.

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COMPANIES - FTSE 250

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ME Group International said that "positive trading momentum" continued throughout the six months ended April 30, compared to a year ago. Revenue in the interim period was up 4.6% and pretax profit up 10%. "The group remained focused on the continued growth of its core photobooth and laundry operations," it noted. Looking ahead the company said: "Historically, the second half of the financial year is seasonally the strongest for the group in terms of revenue and profits generated as well as the installation of machines across key locations. As the group capitalises on the significant market opportunity for laundry and photobooth services, the board is confident in delivering record profitability for the year, in line with market expectations."

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Chemring said its Norwegian subsidiary, Chemring Nobel, has signed a 15-year partnering agreement with Northrop Grumman for the supply of HMX energetic material used in its missile programmes. "This agreement, which reflects the increasing desire of our customers to move to long-term partnering agreements, builds on the two companies' long-standing relationship and supports Northrop Grumman's efforts to expand its munitions manufacturing production in response to growing customer demand," the company said. Further, it noted, that as part of this agreement, Chemring also received a delivery order from Northrop Grumman, valued at USD83 million, for the supply of HMX. Deliveries under this order will begin in financial 2026 and will be made over three years.

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OTHER COMPANIES

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Mosman Oil & Gas said that it has sold its interest in Nadsoilco for up to USD1.8 million. Nadsoilco LLC currently owns the working interest in Stanley, Greater Stanley and all of Mosman's interests in the Winters leases in the Polk County, Texas, US. It explained that the sale will free up management resources to focus on helium exploration. "We are pleased to deliver on our goal of commercialising some of our existing portfolio of oil and gas assets by sale as we seek to take advantage of compelling opportunities for helium exploration," CEO Andy Carroll commented. "We see great potential in helium, as demonstrated with our commitment and progress at EP 145 in Australia and the newly acquired interest in the Vecta Helium Project in USA, due to the proven presence of helium and the low cost of shallow exploration and production wells."

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By Sophie Rose, Alliance News senior reporter

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