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Markets round-up

BP falls; Ashley renews Goals attack; Virgin Galactic soars

Bob Dudley

Bob Dudley: turnaround

BP’s retiring CEO Bob Dudley prepares to leave on a bit of a downbeat note after third-quarter profit fell sharply.

Figures were hit by weaker oil prices, lower production and one-off charges.

Third-quarter underlying replacement cost profit, the company’s definition of net income, was $2.3bn (£1.79bn), down from $3.83bn a year earlier and $2.81bn in the second quarter of 2019.

However the figure exceeded analyst forecasts of $1.73bn in a company-provided survey.

Mr Dudley, credited with turning around the oil giant after the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010, will step down as group chief executive following delivery of the company’s 2019 full year results on 4 February and will retire on 31 March.

 A dividend of 10.25 cents per share was announced for the quarter.

Ashley attacks Goals again

Sports Direct’s majority shareholder Mike Ashley has issued a further criticism of the board of five-a-side football pitch operator Goals Soccer Centres.

East Kilbride-based Goals has handed a dossier to the Serious Fraud Office in relation to an ongoing inquiry into an accounting scandal. Mr Ashley said it was “far too little far too late and is a deliberate case of closing the stable door well after the horse has bolted.”

Sports Direct was the biggest shareholder in Goals but last week pulled out of making an offer for the company.

Virgin rockets on debut

Shares in Virgin Galactic rocketed on their market debut in New York, rising by up to 8% before closing 1.2% higher.

It became the first space tourism firm to offer shares after the completion of a merger on Friday that saw Sir Richard Branson retain a 51% stake in the business.

The tie-up with Social Capital Hedosophia – a publicly-traded shell company owned by former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya – meant VG could bypass the traditional flotation process. He paid $800m for a 49% stake.

The business had a market value of $2.3bn on completion of the merger.

Customers who include actor Leonardo DiCaprio and pop star Justin Bieber have paid around $250,000 for a 90-minute flight that allows passengers to experience a few minutes of weightlessness. VG has so far taken $80m in deposits and fares.

Markets rise

Shares in Asia hit a three-month peak on Tuesday after Wall Street hit all-time highs amid hopes of progress in China-US trade talks and the prospect of policy stimulus from the Federal Reserve this week.

US President Donald Trump said on Monday he expected to sign a significant part of a trade deal with China ahead of schedule but did not elaborate on the timing.

The US trade representative said the US was looking to extend tariff suspensions on $34 billion of Chinese goods set to expire on 28 December.



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