Daily Business Live

Sofa sales boost DFS; economy grows, borrowing soars


4.30pm: Market rebounds

The FTSE 100 closed 36.84 points (0.57%) higher at 6,453.16.

2pm: Garden centres to close

Scottish retail leaders unhappy that garden centres once again forced to close under new restrictions.

Full story here

1.45pm: SSE energy sale

Energy company SSE is selling its portfolio of gas exploration and production assets.

Full story here

10.30am: Spain joins travel ban

Spain has become the latest country to ban flights from Britain, with every member of the bloc, apart from Greece and Cyprus, now having closed their borders to British travellers over the spread of the new mutant strain of coronavirus. 

9am: London market recovers

The FTSE 100 index opened lower on continuing Brexit and Covid worries, down 27.38 points at 6,388.94, but within the was trading in positive territory at 6,440.25, up 23.93 points.

“After yesterday’s carnage on the markets with approximately 2% declines seen across Europe, investors are in a better mood as we draw closer to Christmas,” says Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

“Yesterday’s declines were driven by investors getting a cold shower from Covid-related setbacks. Optimism had been running high and so the sudden escalation of the new virus variant and subsequent movement and business trading restrictions caught investors off guard.

“The prospect of another nationwide lockdown seems inevitable going into 2021 and so earnings expectations for many industry sectors may have to be downgraded.

“However, it’s comforting to see that the markets haven’t crashed for a second day in a row. That would suggest investors aren’t panicking.

DFS sofa

7.30am: DFS benefits from lockdown

Stay-at-home Britons bought more furniture in the last six months, contributing to a 19% surge in gross sales at DFS over last year.

The firm its order bank remains strong and online channels were 76% ahead on the comparative prior year period.

It expects full year profit before tax and brand amortisation will be within the upper half of the current market forecast range.

Wireline industry

Economy grows, borrowing soars

Britain’s economic recovery from its coronavirus crash was cam more quickly than previously thought in the July-September period, according to official data.

Growth in gross domestic product was revised up from an initial 15.5% to a record 16% in the third quarter.

However, this did not make up for its 18.8% slump in the April-June period when much of the economy was closed.

Supporting the economy led to soaring borrowing figures for the UK Government in November.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said borrowing hit £31.6bn, the highest November figure on record.

It was also the third-highest borrowing in any month since monthly records began in 1993.

Since the beginning of the financial year, borrowing has reached £240.9bn, £188.6bn more than a year ago.

The independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has estimated it could reach £372.2bn by the end of the financial year in March.

Weir oil and gas sale

The proposed sale of Weir’s Oil & Gas division to Caterpillar Inc. is now expected to close in the first quarter of 2021. 

As previously announced, completion of the transaction by the end of this year was dependent on the receipt of all regulatory clearances.  While the majority of these clearances have been received, including those from the United States, a small number remain outstanding, with the timing of some standard processes being delayed by Covid-19 restrictions.

An agreement to sell the Oil & Gas division to Caterpillar for an enterprise value of $405m was announced on 5 October.

The proposed sale was approved by shareholders in a general meeting on 23 November, with 99.97% of the shares voted being in favour of the transaction.

London Stock Exchange

6am: Markets

The closure of borders which has shut Britons out of 40 countries is likely to hang over markets, along with the ongoing Brexit talks.

The FTSE 100 is expected to see further falls today, according to spread betting firm IG Group which expects the blue-chip index to open around 24 points lower at 6,3912, having plunged 112.86 points on Monday.

Wall Street stocks were mixed overnight, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ending just 0.1% higher after the US Congress on Monday approved a long-awaited $892bn coronavirus aid package.

But the broader S&P 500 index shed 0.3%, while the tech-laden Nasdaq Composite lost 0.1%, and US Dow futures were heading lower on Tuesday.

The weakness continued in Asian markets early on Tuesday, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 index dropping 1.2% and  Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index down 0.8%.

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