FTSE Open: UK stocks mixed on first 2024 trading day

London stocks opened the first trading session of 2024 mixed on Tuesday, reacting to improved Chinese factory data ahead of further manufacturing PMIs from major economies.

The FTSE 100 nudged up 0.3% in early trade, while the midcap FTSE 250 slipped 0.1%.

AstraZeneca shares edged down despite China approving its RSV antibody treatment for infants, a move that opens up a major new market. The drug already has EU and US backing.

Meanwhile, Airtel Africa named a new CEO to take over in July as boss Segun Ogunsanya retires. The telecoms firm’s shares rose on the news.

Sky News reported that outgoing BT chief Philip Jansen is among the candidates being considered for the chairmanship of advertising giant WPP. Both BT and WPP shares ticked higher.

Infrastructure firm Balfour Beatty initiated the first £50m tranche of a wider 2024 buyback programme. Its stock climbed over 1%.

Among smaller companies, hVIVO jumped 5% after securing £6.3m contract from an unnamed biotech client, while AI firm LungLife AI saw its shares leap 36% on news of successful test validation.