Daily Business Live
Factories flat; AMTE; Cineworld reopening; Trustpilot soars
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4.30pm: FTSE 100 slips
London’s FTSE 100 index fell back 26.91 points to close at 6,699.19.
4.15pm: Sturgeon survives confidence vote
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has survived a vote of no confidence at the Scottish Parliament over her government’s handling of complaints against Alex Salmond.
11am: Manufacturing output flat
Manufacturing output volumes in the three months to March improved to broadly flat, which marked their highest balance since May 2019, according to the CBI’s latest monthly Industrial Trends Survey.
The survey of 321 manufacturers found that output increased in eight out of 17 sub-sectors. Growth in the electronic engineering and plastic products sub-sectors was largely offset by declines in paper, printing & media and aerospace in the headline balance.
Looking ahead, manufacturers expect output to pick up rapidly over the next three months, with expectations at their strongest since August 2017.
Total orders books improved to their highest balance since April 2019, surpassing their long-run average. Export order books strengthened to broadly in line with their long-run average.
Manufacturers anticipate output price growth will accelerate quickly in the next quarter, the strongest expectations since February 2019. Additionally, firms reported inventories as being broadly adequate, which, nonetheless, was their weakest balance since December 2017.
10am: Shares fall on vaccine delays
Shares were pulled lower this morning by energy and mining stocks, as fresh lockdowns and slow vaccine rollouts across Europe stoked fears over the pace of economic recovery.
The commodity-laden FTSE 100 was 0.2% off, with oil heavyweights BP and Royal Dutch Shell among the biggest fallers, shedding 1.9% and 1.3% respectively.
Mining stocks including Rio Tinto, Anglo American, and BHP were also hit.
Shares in online reviews platform Trustpilot rose 14% as it became the latest ecommerce and tech stock to debut.
The company priced the IPO at 265p per share, giving it a market capitalisation of £1.08 billion and it opened up 14% at 300p.
Trustpilot’s pricing came in at the top end of the firm’s indicative price range, meaning it raised a total of £473m through the sale of 17.6 million new shares and 161 million shares from its existing owners.
7am: Cineworld announces reopening
Cineworld Group said its Regal theatres will reopen in the US in April for the first time in six months.
The phased reopening will kick off with a limited number of cinemas opening for “Godzilla vs Kong” on April 2 and going wider with “Mortal Kombat” on April 16.
Cineworld also plans to reopen in the UK, its second biggest market, in May, in line with current government guidance.
The UK’s jobless rate unexpectedly fell to 5% in the three months to January, when the country entered a new Covid lockdown, official figures showed today. This was below forecasts of a rise to 5.2% in a Reuters poll.
Scotland’s unemployment rate estimate fell slightly over the quarter to 4.1%. The employment rate estimate fell to 74.3%.
Separate HMRC early estimates for February 2021, also published this morning, show there were 2,331,000 payrolled employees in Scotland, 65,000 lower than a year ago.
The ONS figures show 67,000 retail jobs have been lost over the year.
The recently-floated Scottish battery developer AMTE Power posted a loss before tax of £1.46 million for the half year to 31 December (H1 19/20: loss £0.86m) in line with management’s expectations.
The rise in losses reflects increased investment in product development, recruitment of key employees and marketing as the Thurso-based group moves towards commercialisation. Revenue came in at £0.62m (H1 19/20: £0.58m).
Kevin Brundish, CEO of AMTE Power said: “We were very pleased by the response to our IPO from investors. Joining the market has coincided with a period of significant interest in our battery cells as governments globally look to decarbonise their economies.
“The IPO has provided us with sufficient capital to take our battery cells into production as we respond to this growing interest.”
Nucleus Financial, the wrap platform, said assets under administration rose 7.9% to £17.4 billion compared to a FTSE All-Share Index decrease of 12.5% year-on-year.
In its final set of results before the takeover by James Hay kicks in, the Edinburgh company saw profits fall by 46% to £3.2m during 2020 compared to £6m during 2019.
Full story here: Ferguson keen to open talks on future at Nucleus
Construction and property investor Henry Boot saw profit before tax fall to £17.1m (2019: £49.1m) but ahead of expectations primarily due to land disposals and a resilient performance from operations in the second half.
Revenue came in at £222.4m (2019: £379.7m) as operations saw lower demand affected by CV-19.
The company proposes a final dividend of 3.3p (2019: 1.3p), increasing the full year pay-out to 5.5p (2019: 5.0p).
The FTSE 100 was expected to fall amid continued concern about a slowing in the European vaccine programme a year on from the first UK coronavirus lockdown. Unemployment data is due to be published.
London’s blue chip stocks closed 17 points higher at 6,726.1.
The Hang Seng and the Shanghai Composite were both down more than 1.4%, and the Nikkei 0.6% lower.
This was in spite of a stronger performance on Wall Street. US stock benchmarks finished higher, led by the Nasdaq which rose 1.2%, ahead of the S&P 500 at 0.7% and the Dow Jones at 0.3%.