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LONDON, Feb 3 (Reuters) – Regulators are monitoring how a surge in retail investors and online brokers during the COVID-19 pandemic risks creating bubbles inflated by social media, France’s AMF markets watchdog said on Wednesday.

Robert Ophele, chair of AMF, said the trading frenzy, fuelled by posts on the Reddit forum and surge in bitcoin prices, has shown how technology and social media can combine to bring irrationality to financial markets.

In a far-reaching evolution, online brokers and chat sites offer new and younger retail investors cheap access to markets, Ophele said.

“Empowering customers with this almost direct access to markets is very welcome but raises many questions,” Ophele told an Afore Consulting webinar.

“It opens new ways to distribute very risky and leveraged products without the proper safeguards, a new way to manipulate markets using the social media dimension of many platforms.”

Few examples of U.S.

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BERLIN, Feb 4 (Reuters) – Shares in used-car trading platform AUTO1 raced ahead in their stock exchange debut on Thursday, as Germany’s first big initial public offering of the year was buoyed by investors’ insatiable appetite for tech stocks.

The shares opened in Frankfurt at 55 euros a share – 45% above the price at which they were sold to investors in an oversubscribed offering that valued the nine-year-old Berlin startup at 7.9 billion euros ($9.47 billion).

AUTO1 priced its 1.8 billion euro initial public offering (IPO) at the top of a 32 to 38 euros per share range, following strong demand from investors in Europe’s second big tech IPO of the year.

AUTO1 is the top platform for buying and selling in Europe’s 600-billion-euro market for used cars and will reap 1 billion euros from the offering of new shares, most of which will be

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Feb 4 (Reuters) – Engineering firm Renishaw Plc’s profit more than tripled for the half year, as it had lower costs due to curbs in travel and fewer exhibitions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The FTSE250 company posted an adjusted pretax profit of 43.4 million pounds ($59.00 million) for the six months ended Dec. 31 on Thursday, compared with 14.3 million pounds a year earlier. It also reinstating an interim dividend of 14 pence per share.

The company, which makes precision measurement equipment used in products ranging from jet engines to smartphones, said its reorganization program, which started last year also resulted in improved productivity and reduced the company’s costs.

“We expect these costs to increase once restrictions are lifted, although we do not expect travel to return to pre-pandemic levels as the use of online meetings has proven an effective tool for many communications,” the company said.

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