Market report

Wizz Air | Pets At Home | Brewin Dolphin | Sage


10pm: Fed holds rate

US stocks gave up early gains to finish Wednesday’s session mostly lower after the Federal Reserve made it clear that it will “soon be appropriate” to raise interest rates.

Investors have pencilled in March for the first of three likely increases this year as the central bank looks to combat a surge in inflation.

Full story here

5pm: London rises strongly

The FTSE 100 closed 98.32 points(1.33%) higher at 7,469.78, off its high of 7,525, as the markets factored in expectations from tonight’s Federal Reserve statement.

The US central bank was not expected to make any policy changes, but investors will look for clues on when, and by how much, the Fed will raise interest rates later this year.

Equities have picked themselves up off the lows of the week and the temptation to buy the dip proved too much to resist.

With the economy, and travel in particular, reopening there was a flurry of buying into the holiday and travel sector.

Top of the risers was British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines Group which enjoyed a 7.5% lift to 159p.  Holiday Inn owner InterContinental Hotels rose 2.8% and Anglo-German tour operator Tui gained 5.4%. 

Heading down was accounting software firm Sage which fell 6.5% despite posting a strong start to its new financial year. 

Brent crude surged above $90 a barrel for the first time since 2014, quoted at $90.27 a barrel at the London equities close Wednesday, from $87.57 late Tuesday.

3.30pm: Sun cutting jobs

Redundancies have been announced among journalists at The Sun newspaper with expectations that production of the title in Scotland and Ireland will switch to London.

Full story here

9.50am: Economy recovers

Scotland’s economic output in November was above pre-pandemic levels, according to the chief statistician.

GDP grew by 0.8% in November, meaning that economic output was 0.6% higher than in February 2020, before the main economic impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) began to be felt.

However, the latest data precedes the onset of the Omicron variant which is likely to have dented the figures for December.

Full story here

9am: Blue chips rebound

The FTSE 100 bounced back more strongly than forecast, up 119 points at 7,490.77.

AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould said: “With today’s US Federal Reserve meeting firmly in view the UK’s flagship stock index has become somewhat dislocated from other global benchmarks thanks to the absence of big technology companies in its ranks.

“For years this under-representation for tech held the FTSE 100 back, now the dominance of relatively cheap tobacco, resources and banking stocks is playing in its favour. For the year to date it is up slightly while the Nasdaq in the US is down double digits.”

7am: Stagecoach-National Express asset sale delayed

Stagecoach and National Express have been ordered to halt the sale of a coach business until the Competition and Markets Authority has completed an investigation into their proposed merger.

Full story here

7am: Wizz Air loss

European carrier Wizz Air posted a third-quarter operating loss of #213.6 million and said the fourth quarter loss was likely to be slightly higher before an expected improvement in spring.

The Hungary-based airline said the emergence of the Omicron variant had hit demand in the latter part of the third quarter, and it expected to be impacted by ongoing travel uncertainty in January, February and part of March.

It plans to operate 50% more capacity in August and September than in the summer of 2019 before the pandemic.

7am: M&G partners Moneyfarm

M&G is partnering with Moneyfarm to provide direct investment services to UK consumers on the back of rapid growth in the sector in the last five years.

There has been an average annual increase in assets under management of 18% to reach £351bn by the end of June 2021.

Within this sector, demand for digital investment services has accelerated, and now accounts for 19% of all UK direct customers.

Full story here

7am: Pets At Home

The company said total group revenue grew 5.8% to £319.4m, with group like-for-like (LFL) revenue of 8.7%, or +28.1% on a 2-year basis for the 12-week period from 8 October to 30 December 2021, compared to the 12-week period from 9 October to 31 December 2020.

Peter Pritchard, group chief executive said: “We are firmly on track to report a record year of sales and profit growth.

“I remain confident that the combination of our strategic investments, strength and depth of our exceptional leadership team and successful initiatives to increase operational efficiencies across the Group will underpin sustainable, long-term and profitable growth”.

7am: Brewin Dolphin

Wealth manager Brewin Dolphin reported a record first quarter performance with £1 billion of discretionary inflows. Total funds increased by 3.7% to £59.0bn (FY 2021: £56.9bn). 

Robin Beer, chief executive said: “Our priority remains on completing the final phased rollout of functionality for our new custody and settlement system and removing the parallel running of systems, which will complete in summer of this year.”

7am: Sage sees leap in revenue

Accounting software firm Sage says that total revenues grew in the three months ended 31 December thanks to an 8% leap in recurring revenues to £429m. Total group revenues increased 5% to £458m.

Chief financial officer Jonathan Howell said: “Sage has made a strong start to the year, accelerating growth in line with expectations.

“Accordingly, we reiterate our guidance for the full year, as set out in our FY21 results announcement.”

Global markets

The FTSE 100 was called 65 points higher even as the US remains on tenterhooks ahead of tonights’ statement by the Federal Reserve on monetary policy.

No changes to policy are expected today, but markets will be looking for clues on the pattern of interest rates.

Wall Street opened sharply lower and a rebound later in the session could not recover all the day’s losses. The Dow Jones closed the day down 0.19%. The S&P 500 was down 1.22% and the Nasdaq lost 2.2%.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei dipped 0.44% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng edged up 0.08% at 24,262. The Shanghai Composite gained 0.66%.

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