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Thursday Update

DB Live: Macfarlane holds divi; Hays; Orkney Harbours; IPPR

6pm: Hunterston’s early closure

Trade union Unite has urged the UK government to commit to new nuclear energy capacity following energy giant EDF Energy’s decision to bring forward the closure of the Hunterston B power station in Ayrshire by two years.

Full story here

4.45pm: London close

The FTSE 100 failed to maintain an uplift gained from US Federal Reserve chairman’s Jerome Powell’s speech at Jackson Hole, ending the session just below the 6,000 threshold.

The index was 45.61 points, or 0.8%, lower at 5,999.99.

At the top of the blue-chips was WPP, closing up 6.5% despite swinging to an interim loss. Rolls-Royce ended down 1.2% after the jet engine maker reported sharply widening losses and said it was looking to sell assets.

In the FTSE 250, OneSavings surged 16%. The lender reported loan book growth in its first-half, with the firm also posting a near double-digit profit climb despite big impairment costs.

8.30am: London lower

London opened lower with Rolls-Royce weighing on the FTSE 100 which was down 14.56 points, or 0.2%, at 6,031.04.

Advertising agency WPP was the best blue-chip performer, up 4.3% after it said it would pay a dividend despite posting a drop in advertising income during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the FTSE 250 One Savings Bank was 7% higher after declaring a more positive outlook.

8.15am: Agency rebrands after acquisition

Dundee design and digital group Avian Communications Network has unveiled a rebrand as Altar Group following the acquisition of a fourth business, Angus-based Ginger PR. 

7am: Macfarlane maintains dividend

Macfarlane lorry

The Glasgow packaging group has raised its interim dividend by 1.4% to 0.7p per share (2019: 0.69) after profit before tax fell slightly from £3.8m to £3.6m (-5.5%) on an almost standalone revenue of £105.6m against £107.5m last time.

Chairman Stuart Paterson, said: “There are still significant uncertainties and concerns over future economic conditions.

“However, the board is confident that, given the resilience of the business in the second quarter, the expected seasonal uplift in the final quarter and actions being taken to reduce operating costs, the Group will continue to progress in the second half of 2020.

Hays

Recruitment firm Hays reported an 11% drop in its annual net fees as the jobs market readjusted to the coronavirus pandemic.

It reported profit before tax for the year to end June down 63% to £86.3 million from £231.2m. PTP before exceptionals was down by 49% to £126.2m from £246.3m.

No dividend was declared.

It said conditions remain tough, May-July fees were stable, and it is seeing modest signs of improvement in permanent jobs. Temp markets are stable overall. About 80% of offices have reopened.

British Gas payout over meter switch

British Gas will pay £1.48 million to customers and £250,000 more into the energy redress fund after changing meter providers and not giving customers enough information about what it meant for them.

The switch left some people unable to top up their pre-payment meters, as the minimum amount shot up from £1 to £5.

Rolls-Royce loss

Rolls-Royce

Engineering giant Rolls-Royce made a pre-tax loss of £5.4bn in the six months to the end of June, hit by £1.1bn in write-offs and impairments, a £2.6bn loss on foreign exchange hedging contracts, and restructuring costs of £366m.

Full report here

Youth jobs alert

The number of 16 to 24-year-olds out of a job could top 140,000 by the end of this year, according to the think tank IPPR Scotland.

It described the record level of unemployment as a “reasonable worst-case ‘downside’ scenario” and put the most optimistic forecast for the age group at more than 80,000.

Tracy Black, CBI Scotland director, said:  “IPPR’s research is a stark reminder of the unprecedented economic crisis the Covid-19 pandemic has created and the disproportionate impact it is likely to have on young people.”

Orkney Harbours plan

Orkney Harbours today officially launches a £230 million infrastructure vision that would place the island at the forefront of the drive for a cleaner, greener future.

The Orkney Harbours Masterplan Phase 1 considers five main locations on the Orkney mainland. Proposals focus on harbour infrastructure enhancements over 20 years.

Phase 1 focuses on the Scapa Deep Water Quay; Hatston Pier; Kirkwall Pier; Scapa Pier; and Stromness. Phase 2 will ultimately develop the Islands’ smaller harbours and piers across the archipelago. Orkney Islands Council, the Statutory Harbour Authority, has overall responsibility for the project.

Markets

Ahead of the Jackson Hole symposium for central banking experts from around the world the Dow Jones gained 0.3% while the S&P 500 climbed another 1% and the tech-focusded Nasdaq index advanced further, rising 1.73%.

In Asia Japan’s Nikkei fell 104 points or 0.45% to 23,186. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng moved 0..83% lower to 25,281 and the Shanghai Composite added 0.47% to 3,348.

Today’s Agenda

* The Liberal Democrat party will announce its new leader at midday with senior party sources saying it has been a close race between acting leader and former energy secretary, Ed Davey, and the party’s education spokeswoman, Layla Moran. Full story here

* US Federal Reserve chairman Jay Powell will lead an online symposium of central banking experts from around the world  at Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Today’s top Daily Business headlines

Union tensions rise as Scotland’s deficit balloons

UK to lose £60m a day from collapse in tourism



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