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Wickes set for IPO; Bellway milestone; inflation dips

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4.30pm: London closes higher

A day of two halves on the London stock market with shares in FTSE 100 stocks turning positive after lunch to close 13.7 points up at 6,712.89.

4.20pm: ITV boss pay cut

ITV chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall took a 20% voluntary pay cut to her basic salary for seven months during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Her decision emerged as it revealed the gender pay gap at the company widened during 2020 although its ethnic diversity pay gap shrank.

Dame Carolyn agreed to a salary reduction taking her basic pay from £923,000 to £833,000 for a year, the broadcaster’s annual report showed.

3pm: Offshore wind pricing review

Offshore wind farm developers have been given assurances on pricing that will allow them to proceed with planned projects in coastal waters.

Full story here

Noon: John Lewis store closures

John Lewis said eight of its stores – including one in Aberdeen – will not reopen once lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Full story here

8.15am: FTSE 100 lower

The FTSE 100 opened lower in line with forecast at 6,668.78, down 30.41 (0.45%).

Market concern over rising inflation may have been overdone as this morning’s UK figures have come in lower than expected (see below).

A gloomy outlook for travel has hit Rolls-Royce, down 4.3% while British Airways owner IAG was 2.2% lower.

7.05am: Inflation

Inflation fell back unexpectedly in February as rising petrol costs failed to offset discounted clothing and footwear.

Prices rose 0.4% last month compared to a 0.7% uplift in January, as measured by the UK Consumer Prices Index.

7am: Wickes demerger

Travis Perkins said its demerger of its 233-store home fittings chain Wickes, announced in July 2019, is back on track and that it intends to float the business on the main market to cash in on the focus on householders rethinking their living space.

David Wood, chief executive of Wickes, said: “This is a key milestone on our journey to listing on the London Stock Exchange as a standalone business in what will be a transformational moment for Wickes.”

A further announcement will be made once the circular and prospectus have been approved by the Financial Conduct Authority, which is expected later today.

Wickes recorded revenue of £1.3bn in 2020, with 5% like-for-like growth, and adjusted operating profit of £82m.

Digital customers have almost doubled and click-and- collect orders were up 450% for the year, whilst home delivered sales increased by 120% for the year.

Three independent non-executive directors – Mark Clare, Sonita Alleyne and Michael Iddon – have joined the board of Wickes in addition to chairman Christopher Rogers.

Bellway

Bellway

Housebuilder Bellway has reinstated its interim dividend at 35p per share (2020 – nil) and said it is in “an excellent position to continue its long-term, disciplined growth strategy”.

It reported volume growth of 6.3% to a record 5,656 homes for the half year to 31 January (2020 – 5,321 homes), and for the full year the board expects to complete the sale of about 10,000 homes (31 July 2020 – 7,522 homes).

Pre-tax profit fell 4% to £280.2 million on an 11.6% rise in revenue to £1.72 billion.

Markets

Blue chips in London are expected to fall after the FTSE 100 closed Tuesday’s session 27 points lower at 6,699.

Recovery hopes are slipping because of rising infection rates in continental Europe.

Market sentiment echoed the more nervous outlook. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 0.94% lower while the S&P 500 dropped 0.76% and the Nasdaq 1.12%.

In Asia this morning Japan’s Nikkei 225 was down 2.04% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 2.24%.

On currency markets, the pound was trading 0.3% lower against the dollar at $1.371. However, UK inflation data and US flash PMI readings are due later which may impact on trade.



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