Hong Kong bill ‘dropped’; M&S relegated; Barratt; Quiz

Hong Kong has been torn apart by riots

Hong Kong’s stock index jumped on Wednesday after the government formally withdrew the extradition bill that first led to months of protests.

Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, said in a five-minute televised address on Wednesday that her government would formally withdraw the controversial bill to “fully allay public concerns”.

The bill, which would have allowed the extradition of suspects to China to be tried under the mainland’s opaque judicial system, prompted the start of mass protests in June that have led to increasingly violent confrontations with police and the arrest of more than 1,000 people.

In China, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was 3.7% higher. The index also benefited earlier from an upbeat survey on China’s services sector.

The Shanghai Composite was up 0.9% while Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.1%.

US stocks rose broadly on the easing of Hong Kong tensions and encouraging data from China which allayed concerns of slowing global growth.

At the open the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 183.97 points, or 0.70%. The S&P 500 was 0.63% higher and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.96%.

Sterling jumped 1% against the dollar to trade above $1.22 after MPs seized control of the parliamentary timetable to try to block a no-deal Brexit.

M&S: Marks & Spencer will drop out of the FTSE 100 for the first time since the index was created in 1984, after its value fell below the threshold for inclusion.

The relegation was confirmed at the close of trading in London on Tuesday.

The official announcement will be made today and changes will take effect on 23 September.

Barratt: Housebuilder Barratt has announced record profit before tax for the year of £909.8m, up 8.9% on the previous year.

The firm also said it built 17,856 homes in the year to 30 June, up from 17,579 in the previous 12 months.

David Thomas, Barratt chief executive, said: “Whilst there is increased economic and political uncertainty, we begin the new financial year with a strong forward order book, balance sheet and cash position which we believe provides us with the resilience and flexibility to react to potential changes in the operating environment in full year 2020 and beyond.”

Gabby Allen (Quiz)

Revenues have been flat at Quiz

Quiz: Scotland-based fashion retailer Quiz saw its shares tumble by 12% after warning that summer trading has remained “challenging”.

The group’s said revenues in its financial year so far were “broadly” flat on a year earlier, but that is after stripping out sales lost from unprofitable business streams which have now been ended.

Peter Cowgill, chairman, said: “The challenging trading conditions reported at the time of the group’s announcement on June 11 2019 have persisted over the summer months.

“Consistent with the widely reported conditions on the UK high street, the business has experienced a reduction in store footfall during the period compared to the previous year when the group experienced particularly strong demand.”

Quiz, which is holding its annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday, said trading conditions are set to remain difficult, but believes its online focus will help it return to profit growth. Online sales had continued to rise since its annual results on 11 June.

Quiz – which had warned over profits in January and March this year – confirmed in June that full-year profits were almost entirely wiped out – crashing 97% to £0.2 million.

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