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Markets leap on bond easing; Aggreko; Reach; BT chair

REFRESH PAGE FOR UPDATES

10pm: Wall Street higher

Wall Street stocks closed sharply higher as Treasury yields retreated from last week’s highs and some positive vaccine news helped boost sentiment among investors.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 1.95% or 603.14 point, reversing Friday’s 470 points drop, while the S&P 500 was 2.38% firmer and the Nasdaq Composite saw out the session 3.01% stronger.

4.30pm: Markets on front foot

European markets began the new trading week on the front foot with the FTSE 100 closing up 105.1 points (1.62%) at 6,588.53.

In Paris the CAC 40 and Frankfurt’s DAX 30 both ended 1.6% higher.

UK housebuilders, were among those making sizeable gains on the back of the Chancellor’s promises to help home buyers. Taylor Wimpey rose 5.7%, Berkeley Group was up 5.2% and Persimmon climbed 5.4%.

Halfords closed 7.3% higher as it said trading has been “volatile” but stronger than expected. The provider of motoring and cycling products and services guided to a sharp jump in annual profit.

US investors took lower bond yields in their stride as a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill and distribution of Johnson & Johnson’s newly authorised COVID-19 vaccine spurred Wall Street’s enthusiasm

In early trade the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 657.73 points, or 2.13%, the S&P 500 gained 82.71 points, or 2.17%, and the Nasdaq Composite added 300.97 points, or 2.28%.

4pm: Dobbies sticking to plan

Dobbies, the garden centre company, said it will continue to follow its strategic plan after adjusting to the Covid crisis over the last year.

It reported a 51% rise in sales in the year which ended just before the pandemic struck.

10am: Crane factory bought

Ayrshire-based J & D Pierce expects to create about 100 jobs after buying the former Konecranes factory in South Lanarkshire for an undisclosed sum.

The Glengarnock company will take on the 300,000 sq ft plant along with 14 acres of yard space at the College Milton site in East Kilbride.

It worked on Boeing’s new site at Gatwick Airport and the £150m revamp of Queen Street Station in Glasgow and has remained open throughout the coronavirus crisis.

Full story here

8.30am: London equity traders shake off bond pressures

London stocks rose in early trade as bond markets recovered. The FTSE 100 was up 1.3% at 6,569.32.

Housebuilders were among the gainers, with PersimmonTaylor Wimpey and Barratt Developments all sharply higher on news that Chancellor Rishi Sunak will unveil in his Budget this week a mortgage guarantee scheme to help first-time buyers.

8.15am: Azets expands

Azets, the fast-growing accountancy firm specialising in the SME market, is showing confidence in the North East economy by taking a ten-year lease on new offices in the heart of Aberdeen’s professional services district.

Full story here

7am: Record group takes Covid hit

Record and Express

Daily Record and Daily Express publisher Reach took a £100m hit to revenue from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Group revenue for the year to 27 December fell 14.6% to £600.2m. Digital revenue increased 10.6% to £118.3m, while print revenue was down by 18% to £479.3m.

Adjusted operating profit fell 12.8% to £133.8m.

Reach’s transformation programme, which saw the company shed around 600 jobs last year, delivered cost savings of over £35m at a cost of £16.5m in severance payments, while the closure of two print plants is expected to deliver annualised net savings of £11m.

Chief executive Jim Mullen said: “Reach has become a stronger business in 2020 thanks to the ongoing hard work and commitment of our people during this unprecedented year.

“We have delivered our strategic milestones ahead of our original expectations and will now increase investment to accelerate delivery, focusing on the use of enhanced customer insight to drive engagement and our medium-term objective of doubling digital revenues.

“While macro-economic uncertainty resulting from Covid-19 clearly remains, the group is well placed to make good progress during 2021 and to generate increased long term value as the customer value strategy gathers momentum.”

Final dividend proposed of 4.26p per share.

BT chairman retires

BT Group has announced that Jan du Plessis is to retire as chairman in 2021 once a successor has been appointed.

Mr du Plessis joined BT as a non-dxecutive director in June 2017 and was appointed chairman in November 2017. The board will now initiate a process for the appointment of a successor led by the Senior Independent Director.

Aggreko dividend proposed

Aggreko

Temporary power provider Aggreko is proposing a final dividend for the year of 10 pence per share as a sign of positivity after posting a 40% fall in underlying operating profit for the year to the end of December.

The Glasgow-based company, which is subject to takeover interest, said: “We are encouraged by the recovery we are seeing in our markets, despite wider macro uncertainty.

“The positive momentum we have experienced in early trading, together with the work to date on our strategic initiatives, underpins our confidence in making progress in 2021, notwithstanding the recent strengthening of sterling.”

Craneware

Keith Neilson, chief executive of Scottish software company Craneware tells Daily Business he is eyeing growth from the expanding US healthcare sector… that he’s still hiring and how Covid has transformed the company’s travel plans.

Plus half year figures and dividend declaration.

Full story here

Macfarlane deal

Packaging company Macfarlane Group has acquired GWP Holdings, the owner of GWP Group, a protective packaging manufacturing and distribution business based in Wiltshire. 

Full story here

Markets

The FTSE 100 was set to make a strong start to the trading week with both bond and equity markets returning to some sort of normality after the recent sell-off.

Asia’s main markets were in recovery mode. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong rose 1.39% while the Shanghai Composite in China gained 1.06%.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 surged 2.47% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 closed 1.74% higher.



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