Daily Business Live

Online drives Royal Mail; Cineworld ‘CVA’; Macfarlane


4.45pm: Economic blues weigh on market

The FTSE 100 closed 50 points (0.8%) lower at 6,334.4 as worries over economic damage replaced the recent optimism over vaccines.

CMC Markets UK analyst David Madden said: “Traders haven’t forgotten about the hopeful news from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech with respect to vaccines but concerns about damage being done to the economy is in focus today.”

Among the fallers were those which have enjoyed a recent uptick such as easyJet which lost 4.6%.

Wall Street was also lower in the early part of the session.

4.30pm: Retail chains in administration

Another 500 shop units could close after fashion chains Peacocks and Jaeger plunged into administration, putting more than 4,700 jobs at risk.

Full story here

2.30pm: Covid stalls Brexit talks

Brexit talks have been put on hold after a member of the EU negotiating team tested positive for Covid.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said he and his UK counterpart Lord Frost had decided to put talks on ice “for a short period of time”.

11am: Manufacturing remains weak

Manufacturing output volumes in the three months to November fell at their slowest pace since September 2019, but the pipeline for activity – including output expectations and order books – weakened in October, according to the latest CBI monthly Industrial Trends Survey.

9.30am: Compare the Market fined for rigging

Compare the Market, the comparison website, has been fined £17.9 million for rigging the cost of home insurance.

Full story here

8.30am: Lockdown weighs on FTSE 100

The FTSE 100 fell over worries about rising coronavirus cases and longer-than-expected lockdowns.

The index was trading 57.9 points (0.9%) lower at 6,327.36.

7am: Online drives Royal Mail revenue

Royal Mail reported a first half adjusted operating loss of £129 million after restructuring charges of £147m, and a reported operating loss of £176m.

Revenue was up 9.8% to £5.67 billion, driven by strong parcel growth. For the first time, parcels revenue at Royal Mail is now larger than letters revenue, representing 60% of total revenue, compared with 47% in the prior period.


Cineworld considers CVA

Cinema chain Cineworld is looking at a company voluntary arrangement as part of its refinancing talks with lenders.

It may be forced to permanently close some UK cinemas after lockdown restrictions and a lack of blockbuster films caused business to collapse, the FT reported.

The company last month temporarily shut its US and UK operations, leaving 45,000 people unemployed for the foreseeable future.

Kingfisher sees sales jump

B&Q owner Kingfisher reported a 17.4% leap in underlying sales over the latest quarter, as it benefited from do-it-yourself activity during the pandemic.

The group, which also owns Screwfix, said its total sales rose 17.6% on a constant currency basis to £3.5 billion in the third quarter to 31 October.

It said underlying, or like-for-like, sales were up 12.6% in its fourth quarter to 14 November, largely reflecting the impact of more recent lockdown measures.

Macfarlane lorry

Macfarlane sees good sales growth

Packaging group Macfarlane said sales revenue and profit before tax for the second half of the year to date is ahead of the corresponding period in 2019.  The board says full year profit before tax will be broadly in line with last year.

Sales revenue in the four months to 31 October was better than expected and has grown by 4% compared to the same period last year. This represents a strong recovery from Q2 when sales decreased by 5.2% due to the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown.  

“We have continued to achieve good sales growth in the internet retail, household essentials and medical sectors and seen improving sales in some industrial sectors,” said the Glasgow-based company in an update.

“However sales in the aerospace, high street retail and food service sectors will take some time to recover to pre-Covid-19 levels. The performance of the business in challenging market conditions clearly demonstrates the benefits of having a broad customer base across a variety of market sectors.”

John Love is retiring as group finance director on 31 December after 24 years and will be succeeded by Ivor Gray, currently group financial controller and finance secretary who also joined the company in 1996.

Change of FD: appointments


The FTSE 100 was called close to 1% lower ahead of the open as global equities respond to rising fears that lockdown will be extended in a number of major economies.

US markets slipped back for the second day in a row following a tightening of lockdown restrictions.The Dow Jones gave up 344 points or 1.16% and similarly the S&P 500 also lost 1.16%. The Nasdaq slipped 0.8% lower .

Japan’s Nikkei was trading 93 points or 0.36% lower and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was down 117 point or 0.43%. The Shanghai Composite was marked in positive territory, up 0.43%.

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