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Asda probe; YouKube deal; Martin Precision; Begbies Traynor

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4.30pm: Brexit hangs over market

Brexit uncertainty continued to hang over the markets with the FTSE 100 closing up just 3.43 points, or 0.05%, at 6558.82, while the pound slipped to $1.336 and €1.103.

SSE and National Grid each saw their shares edge ahead, closing up 39.5p at 1,403p and 12.2p at 872.2p respectively following energy regulator Ofgem’s decision not to cut the money that energy networks can give to their shareholders by as much as first indicated.

Shares in insolvency firm Begbies Traynor fell after it said full year results are expected to be “at least” in line with expectations. Shares closed down 3.4p at 90p.

4pm: Changes to tiers

More than two million people living in 11 council areas in Scotland with the toughest Covid restrictions will move down one level from Friday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.

But concern has arisen over the tier allocation.

Full story here

2pm: Asda probe launched

The £6.8 billion takeover of Asda by the billionaire Issa brothers and private equity firm TDR Capital will be investigated by the Competition and Markets Authority.

The CMA said it will look at whether the acquisition by Mohsin and Zuber Issa – the Lancashire brothers behind petrol forecourt firm EG Group – will lead to a “substantial lessening of competition” in the UK grocery sector.

The watchdog has until 18 February to reach a decision on the first stage of its investigation.

US seller Walmart will retain a minority stake.

1.30pm: Irish clauses ditched

Boris Johnson has agreed to drop parts of the Withdrawal Agreement in relation to Northern Ireland in the first key step to sealing a deal with the EU.

Full story here

11am: Outdoor living firm acquired

Eddie Black, managing director design and build firm Eco, has joined forces with Darren Cardwell, managing director of lifts design firm Axess 2, to buy the YouKube brand of outdoor living units and the original design from Costin Group for an undisclosed sum.

YouKube units, usually positioned in a garden, can be used as an office, children’s playroom, gym, studio, or even a sauna.

10am: Martin Precision rebrand

Lanarkshire-based engineer and manufacturer Martin Precision has unveiled its rebrand. The business, formerly known as Martin Aerospace, changed its name to better reflect its increasingly diverse customer base, after it expanded its portfolio of clients.

The firm, which primarily manufactured precision parts for aeroplanes and helicopters, now also serves clients in the medical, energy and defence sectors.

9.15am: New role for Roy

Fraser of Allander director Graeme Roy has a new job.

Full story here

8am: London opens lower

The FTSE 100 opened at 6,526.07 −29.32 (0.45%)

BBC Scotland

7am: Broadcasting under threat

Traditional UK broadcasting is unlikely to survive in the online world, says Ofcom, unless laws and regulation around it are overhauled, and broadcasters accelerate their transformation for the digital age.

Full story here

Begbies Traynor Group

The business recovery, financial advisory and property services consultancy, posted a fall in pre-tax profits from £1.9m to £451,000 for the six months ended 31 October.

The board expects results for the full year will be at least in line with the current market consensus, which would represent a further year of growth.

It has declared an 11% lift in the interim dividend to 1p from 0.9p, building on the increases of the previous three years.

Mears in line

Mears, the UK housing maintenance group, said trading performance continued in line with the board’s expectations and the group has delivered an operating profit throughout the second half of the financial year.

Accordingly, the group is expecting to report total revenues of around £825m (H1: £407m) for the full year and a small profit before tax (H1: £5.8m loss).

Cash performance has been strong in the second half, with the group’s average daily net debt position for the 5 months to 30 November reducing to £88m (H1: £121m), also benefiting from a £16m VAT deferral from the March-20 quarter end.

Completion of the Terraquest disposal is expected shortly and taking into account the initial cash proceeds, the Group is expected to be net cash positive at year end..

Markets

The FTSE 100 is expected to open lower as Brexit talks continue to stumble.

London’s blue chip share index was being called 22 points lower ahead of the open on the IG spread-betting platform, having added five points at the start of the week to reach 6,555.39.

Overnight, Wall Street had a mixed session as stimulus talks resumed in Congress.

The Dow Jones dropped 0.5% to 30,069.79 and the S&P 500 slipped 0.2% but the tech-fuelled Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.45%.



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