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SSE Dogger Bank stake cut; Paddy Power ups FanDuel holding

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8pm: US jobs below forecast

The US non-farm payrolls increased by 245,000 jobs in November, below economists’ expectations of 469,000 jobs and the smallest gain since the labor recovery started in May.

US President-elect Joe Biden said the report underlined the need for urgent action and that more would be needed in January.

One analyst noted: “The bad news of the weakening jobs picture is potentially good news for investors because it means that the stimulus bill is much more likely to take place in a fairly short time frame.”

4.30pm: Equities move higher

The Santa rally continued into the final session of the week with FTSE 100 closing just under 60 points higher at 6,550.23, after earlier hitting a nine-month high.

The Opec+ accord, with Russia and Saudi Arabia agreeing to lift supplies, helped lift London’s oil majors. BP and Shell fuelled the FTSE and allowed the UK index to climb despite the pressure that would normally come from the pound making gains.

The FTSE 100 closed higher

Brexit talks are ongoing and heading into more meetings next week, with the market playing a will-they-won’t-they guessing game like everyone else.

Analyst Marshall Gittler at BDSwiss summed it up by saying: “I feel like I’m back in high school, trying to find out from my friends whether that cute girl in French class likes me or not. Some of her friends say she does. Others say she doesn’t. Some say she does, but the next day say she doesn’t.

“Sometimes I see her in the hall and smile at her and she smiles back. Sometimes she ignores me.

“But the prom is coming up next week, so we’ll finally find out for sure.”

On Wall Street the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average have notched up new all-time intraday highs.

12.15pm: Milne seeking land

Stewart Milne

Stewart Milne Homes is looking to acquire land in Tayside, after a new community in Dundee becomes one of the fastest-selling developments in the company’s history.

The housebuilder has invested £130m in the region since re-entering the market in 2012 with new communities at Ballumbie Rise in Dundee and Monarch Rise in Arbroath which, combined, will deliver over 570 homes by 2026.

10.30am: Law firms see lower income

Scottish legal firms have seen a rise in workload since the early part of lockdown, but turnover and partner returns are expected to remain lower into next year, according to new research.

Full story here

8.30am: Peacocks buy-out bid

A management buyout bid has been submitted to Peacocks’ administrators FRP Advisory from Josh Lowes, head of ecommerce development at Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, in conjunction with a private investor.

The bid could save 4,908 employees from redundancy, after Peacocks was placed into administration by parent company Edinburgh Woollen Mill last month November. Peacocks Stores has 470 stores and concessions in the UK. 

The MBO proposal from Phoenix Wales sets out to buy the full company including stores, and says it would focus on strengthening Peacocks’ digital offering, according to trade journal Drapers which reports that the MBO is separate from any backing from the existing structure of Peacocks and EWM Group, which is owned by Philip Day.

8.15am: Investors charge ahead

The FTSE 100 the index opened nearly 40 points higher at 6,529.43 ahead of today’s US job figures.

7am: Paddy Power lifts stake in FanDuel

Paddy Power Betfair owner Flutter Entertainment said it is raising £1.1bn in a share placing to increase its stake in former Edinburgh-based FanDuel, now based in New York.

The company had said earlier this week that it had agreed to buy the entire 37.2% interest in FanDuel currently held by Fastball Holdings – a consortium led by private equity group KKR – for $4.18bn (£3.13bn).

Flutter bought a controlling stake in FanDuel in 2018 and the latest acquisition takes its interest in the business to 95% from 57.8%. The remaining 5% will continue to be held by existing co-shareholder Boyd Interactive Gaming.

The company said today that it placed around 8 million shares at 14,000p each. The placing shares represent approximately 5.2% of the issued share capital and the price is a discount of around 2.1% to the closing share price on Thursday.

Shoppers in masks

Shopper footfall plunges

Shoppers continue to snub the high street, with footfall down by almost 40% in November and Glasgow seeing numbers fall by half.

Full story here

Primark sales fall

Primark’s owner ABF says the chain has taken a £430m hit to sales from lockdowns but insists it remains on track to deliver improved profits.

In an update ahead of its AGM Associated British Foods said that only 34 of its stores across Europe remained closed.

SSE sells Dogger Bank stake

Perth-based energy company SSE is selling a 10% stake in the first two phases of Dogger Bank Wind Farm to Eni for £202.5m.

SSE intends to use the proceeds to enable delivery of its low carbon growth plans. It now expects adjusted earnings per share for 2020/21 to be in the range of 85 pence to 90 pence.

Dogger Bank Wind Farm, of the east coast of England, is the largest of SSE Renewables’ projects currently in construction.

Eni is also buying a 10% stake in Dogger Bank A & B from project partner Equinor. Once the transaction is complete, the new overall shareholding in Dogger Bank A (1,200MW) and Dogger Bank B (1,200MW) will be: SSE (40%), Equinor (40%) and Eni (20%). 

Markets

Global crude oil surged to the highest since early March after OPEC+ agreed on a compromise deal to gradually ease output curbs beginning early next year.

OPEC and a group of Russia-led oil producers finally agreed to increase output by 500,000 barrels a day next month – a modest rise that is intended to help prop up oil prices as producers and investors plan for rising demand driven by positive vaccine news.

Brent Crude for February settlement gained 46 cents to $48.71 a barrel.

On equity markets, stocks were expected to open higher ahead of the US jobs report this afternoon.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 was off 48 points but in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng was 46 points higher.

London’s index of leading shares was seen opening 27 points higher, despite a mixed showing by US indices yesterday.

The Nasdaq Composite closed at a record high, lifted by Tesla , while the S&P 500 fell after a report in the Wall Street Journal that Pfizer had slashed the target for the rollout of its COVID-19 vaccine by half.

Tesla surged 5% after Goldman Sachs upgraded the stock to “buy” in the run-up to the electric car maker’s addition to the S&P 500 index.

Boeing jumped after budget airline Ryanair ordered 75 additional 737 MAX jets with a list price of $9 billion, throwing a commercial lifeline to the embattled US planemaker.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.29%.



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