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Stagecoach profits plunge; HS2 boost for Balfour Beatty

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4.30pm: London edges higher at close

The FTSE 100 closed 16.88 points higher at 6,575.70.

3.30pm: Latest support for business

Taxi drivers, wedding photographers and visitor attractions are among the beneficiaries of the Scottish government’s latest Covid rescue package.

Full story here

8am: London opens higher

London’s FTSE 100 opened 10.62 points higher at 6,569.44.

Stagecoach

7am: Stagecoach restores network

Transport operator Stagecoach saw profits almost wiped out over the six months to the end of October as passenger numbers slumped.

Profit before tax fell from £66.6 million to £400,000 and revenue fell by almost half to £454.6m (H1 2020: £800.2m).

The Perth-based company said it had restored regional bus networks for communities across the UK to around 91% of prior year levels and has accommodated increased passenger volumes safely within the current restricted environment.

Martin Griffiths, Stagecoach group chief executive, said support from government during the pandemic had been welcome.

“We are working closely with our government and sector partners on a new framework to ensure the country’s public transport networks adapt to new working and travel patterns, are fit for the post-COVID world, and meet the continuing needs of our customers and communities,” he said.

No dividend has been declared.

Balfour Beatty boosted by HS2

The infrastructure group says the go-ahead for the HS2 rail project boosted its year-end order book which is expected to be around £17 billion, significantly higher than 2019 (£14.3 billion). 

Despite delays caused by COVID-19, in the second half of the year the group has continued to win material infrastructure projects across all its geographies.

Key successes include over £1 billion (Balfour Beatty share) of work secured on the Three Runway project at Hong Kong Airport, Oak Hill Parkway in the US and the M25 and M3 Smart Motorway Alliance contracts in the UK. 

Revenue for the full year is expected to be in line with the prior year (2019: £8.4 billion).

Group profit from operations for the full year is forecast to be in line with the board’s expectations.

Markets

The FTSE 100 was called to open 30 points higher at 6,588 as Borish Johnson heads to Brussels for more talks with the EU.

Asian shares hit new highs and US stock futures forged ahead as investors reacted to positive news on Covid-19 vaccines and a more fiscal stimulus from Washington.

Japan’s Nikkei rose 1.27% to approach a 29 1/2-year high, while South Korean stocks jumped by 1.6% to trade near a record high. However, shares in China fell 0.68% on profit taking.

The The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.35% on Tuesday, the S&P 500 gained 0.28% and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.5%.

Sterling was unmoved as trade deal talks with the European Union continued.



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