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Friday Update

DB Live: Biden ahead; Ofgem probes ScottishPower; Redrow

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4.45pm: Edinburgh Woollen Mill in administration

High street clothing group Edinburgh Woollen Mill has put its eponymous stores into administration along with its Ponden Home brand.

Full story here

4.30pm: Stock markets muted

London’s FTSE 100 closed up just 3.84 points, or 0.1%, at 5,910.02 as investors awaited a verdict in in the US elections and digested better than expected job numbers. For the week, the blue chip index has gained 5.9%.

2pm: Biden poised for victory

Joe Biden

Joe Biden has taken the lead in Pennsylvania and appears destined for the White House, while Donald Trump refuses to accept defeat and claims he is the victim of an elaborate conspiracy. Even Republicans are calling him “insane”.

Trump renewed those attacks last night during a 17-minute tirade on television.

He claimed he was the victim of ‘big media, big money and big tech’ coming together to commit ‘historic election interference’ to give Joe Biden the presidency. 

As the country awaits a result, US employment accelerated at a better-than-expected rate in October, with the unemployment rate falling sharply despite a surge in the number of new Covid-19 cases.

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According to the Labor Department, nonfarm payrolls increased by 638,000, while the unemployment rate came in at 6.9%, stronger than the gain of 530,000 and 7.7% predicted by economists, respectively.

Ulas Akincilar, head of trrading at the online trading platform, Infinox, said: “Nearly two thirds of a million Americans found work in October, knocking a full percentage point off the unemployment rate.

“With parts of the US shaking off Covid restrictions and increasing numbers of bars and restaurants operating as normal, the leisure and hospitality is running hot – piling on well over a quarter of a million jobs in a month.

“American retailers are also hiring with a vengeance, adding a further 104,000 jobs to the score sheet.

“Ordinarily such a solid jobs report, which shows a labour market striding back towards normality, would send equity markets soaring.

“But America’s electoral paralysis and the prospect of the battle for the White House dragging on for days, or even weeks, more has cast a pall that no amount of labour market sunshine can pierce.”

Noon: Investors take stock

The FTSE 100 was down just 5.94 points, or 0.1% at 5,900.24 as investors awaited clarity on the US elections.

It is on track to end the week nearly 6% ahead while the S&P 500 has rallied 7% in the first four days of the week,

The dollar was lower across the board midday Friday. The pound was quoted at $1.3129, up from %1.3097 on Thursday evening.

7am: Ofgem investigates ScottishPower

Ofgem has launched an investigation into whether ScottishPower breached rules around obligations to install smart meters for domestic consumers in 2019.

Under the Government’s smart metering implementation programme, suppliers are required by their licences to take all reasonable steps to rollout smart meters to all homes and small businesses by 30 June 2021.

To work towards this, suppliers set their annual targets for smart meter installations and Ofgem monitors performance against these targets on an annual basis.

Ofgem said the opening of this investigation does not imply that it has made any findings about non-compliance by ScottishPower.

Redrow

Redrow reports demand for bigger homes

House builder Redrow says homebuyers are seeking more space for working which is increasing demand for bigger houses.

John Tutte, chairman, will tell today’s AGM: “We entered the new financial year in a position of strength and this has been reinforced with strong trading since the start of the year.

“There has been resolute demand for homes with more space to live and work as customers reflect on their lockdown experiences.”

The company said the value of net private reservations in the 18 weeks to 30 October was 5% ahead of last year at £630m. Demand in the regions has been particularly strong with the value of reservations 17% ahead.

Co-operative Bank

The Co-operative Bank unveiled an expected loss before tax of £68.1m for the nine months to the end of September.

Markets

The FTSE 100 index looks set to retreat following four sessions of gains as investors take some risk off the table amid continuing uncertainty over the US elections.

Wall Street traders remained bullish in anticipation that Republicans will hold on to the US Senate and prevent changes under a possible Joe Biden White House that would smother corporate profits.

All the main indexes were up for a fourth straight session as investors expect a fiscal stimulus package. However, it could be smaller than it would be if the Democrats controlled Congress. This could see the US Federal Reserve to pump more funds into the financial system and lend support to equity prices.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.95%, while the S&P 500 gained 1.95%. The Nasdaq Composite climbed 2.59%.

Today’s agenda

US non-farm payrolls data



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