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JD Sports rises after US swoop; Springfield upbeat

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4.30pm: JD Sports a highlight as London falls

JD sports

JD Sports Fashion made a big statement about its US ambitions after it bought US-based Shoe Palace for $325m. The deal sent its shares 2.69% higher on a day when the market was subdued.

JD entered the US market in 2018 with the acquisition of Finish Line and said the latest deal would increase its appeal among Hispanic and Latino consumers, who form a significant proportion of Shoe Palace’s customer base.

Peter Cowgill, executive chairman of Britain’s biggest sportswear retailer, commented: “The Shoe Palace team are ambitious, have great energy and pride themselves on their consumer connection and we welcome them to the group.

“We are confident that our combined fascias will provide us with the flexibility and expertise to fulfil our mutual ambition of becoming a prime customer destination for sneakers and lifestyle apparel in the United States.”

The FTSE 100 index closed lower as traders continued to fret about the Brexit talks and London’s tougher virus restrictions. The index ended the session 18.51 points down at 6,513.32.

Sterling was stronger against its major trading pairs, last rising 0.84% on the dollar to $1.3436, and advancing 0.77% against the euro to €1.1055.

Rolls-Royce shares fell after a downgrade to ‘sell’ from Panmure Gordon.

12.15pm: Aviva hires UK CEO

Aviva has appointed Doug Brown as CEO of its UK & Ireland Life Insurance business.

Full story here

11.30am: Barclays fined

Barclays bank has been fined £26m by the Financial Conduct Authority for failures in its treatment of customers who fell into financial difficulties.

Full story here

9am: London edges higher

The FTSE 100 reversed opening losses to trade 14 points higher at 6,546, helped by sterling easing to $1.3315 from US$1.3331 overnight.

The unemployment data (see below) may have been worrying, but the numbers were not as bad as feared, according to Howard Archer, the chief economic advisor to the EY ITEM Club.

8.30am: Decline in SME activity

The latest NatWest (RBS) UK Small Business PMI survey shows a decline in small firms’ business activity for the second month running in November, as overall demand conditions remained weak.

However, news of a vaccine boosted small business confidence to a ten-month high.

7.45am: Lord Sugar’s brother dies

Lord Sugar’s brother has died of coronavirus, the the Amstrad-founder has announced.

The Amstrad founder, best known as host of the TV show The Apprentice, tweeted: “Today I lost my long suffering brother Derek another victim of Covid which added to his underlying health issues.”

LV=

7.30am: LV= agrees takeover of assets

LV= has agreed that Bain Capital, a global private investment firm, will pay £530m to acquire its savings & retirement and protection businesses, prompting a cash payout to members.

Full story here

Scottish unemployment falls

For the period August to October, Scotland’s employment rate estimate has risen to 74.8% and the unemployment rate estimate has fallen over the quarter to 4.2%, the biggest fall of any UK region or nation.

Scotland’s economy may take three years to return to pre-pandemic levels, according to the Fraser of Allander Institute.

Full story here

Innes Smith

7am: Springfield rebounds

Build and sales activity at Springfield Properties rebounded strongly following the resumption of operations, post lockdown, from late June, with the group delivering against a substantial backlog and experiencing high levels of demand.

As a result, it expects total revenue for the first half of 2020/21 to be about 17% higher than in H1 2019/20, in line with market expectations.

The group also expects to report a material reduction in net debt to about £33.6m at 30 November 2020 from £68.8m at 31 May 2020.

Elgin-based Springfield will announce interim results in February.

Innes Smith, CEO (pictured), said: “This has been a strong six months for Springfield. We were able to safely and efficiently resume construction to complete the homes that had been scheduled for handover at the end of the previous financial year.

“With a strong order book for our private and affordable housing, with substantial visibility, we look forward to delivering significant growth for the full year in line with market expectations.”

Oil price falls

Oil prices fell as tighter lockdowns across Europe threatened to squeeze demand and slow the recovery.

US West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 36 cents, or 0.8%, to $46.63 a barrel at 0506 GMT, while Brent crude futures fell 40 cents, or 0.8%, to $49.89 a barrel, erasing Monday’s gains.

Equities

The FTSE 100 is set to extend its losses into a third day as news of a new strain of the coronavirus emerging in the country offsets fresh optimism about a Brexit deal.

London’s blue chip index was being called 24 points lower ahead of today’s open, after closing almost 15 points or 0.2% lower at 6,531.83 the day before, although the mid-cap FTSE 250 finished 0.7% higher.

On Wall Street the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 both fell, 0.62% and 0.44% respectively, although the Nasdaq rose 0,5% because tech firms benefit from people being forced to stay at home.

Asia fared no better, with Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Sydney, Seoul and Singapore leading losses across the region, even though China’s economy continued to improve last month, with industrial production and retail sales figures rising 7% and 5% YoY respectively, in line with expectations. 



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