Daily Business Live
Taylor Wimpey orders up; E.ON hit; AJ Bell; Credit Suisse
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4.30pm: Manufacturing buoys stocks
Stocks in London edged ahead as UK manufacturing optimism improved at its fastest pace for almost 50 years and investment intentions rebounded as economies began to reopen from Covid-19 lockdowns, according to the latest data from the CBI.
The European Central Bank also left the door open for a “recalibration” to its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP).
The FTSE 100 ended the session up 42.95 (0.62%) at 6,938.24, and the FTSE 250 was 1.26% firmer at 22,364.87.
8am: London edges up
The FTSE 100 has opened almost 9 points higher at 6,904.17.
7.15am: Utility repays customers
E.ON, one of the UK’s largest household energy suppliers, is compensating customers hit with extra bank charges after a billing error.
Ofgem, the industry regulator, said the company took money from 1.6 million direct debit customers earlier than agreed.
The majority of those affected were due to have paid their bills in January but E.ON “erroneously took payments” on 24 December.
E.ON immediately recognised the incorrect billing which was blamed on a technical fault following a review of internal systems.
The company has agreed to pay £627,312 to the energy redress fund to customers and made redress and goodwill payments totalling £55,039.
7am: Taylor Wimpey
Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey reported an increased order book despite the latest Covid lockdown and said it would be maintaining its guidance.
Its order book stood at around £2.8bn, representing 10,995 homes against £2.66bn a year ago.
“We have made good early progress on our 2021 priorities, including driving operating profit margin and an enhanced cost control mindset across the business. Our focus remains on delivering our operating profit margin target of 21-22% in the medium term,” the company said in a trading statement.
It added that despite the national lockdown imposed in January, customer demand for new housing had remained resilient.
7am: AJ Bell
Investment platform AJ Bell said customer numbers increased to 346,797, up 32% over the last year and 11% in the quarter, with total net inflows in the quarter of £1.5 billion (2020: £1.3bn).
Total assets under administration increased to a record £65.2bn, up 35% over the last year and 4% in the quarter.
Andy Bell, chief executive, said: “The run up to the recent tax year-end was our busiest ever, driving strong growth in customer numbers and assets under administration during our second quarter.
“Our assets under administration surpassed £65 billion for the first time and momentum remains strong going into the second half of our financial year.”
6am: Credit Suisse raises funds
Swiss bank Credit Suisse said it is raising capital by issuing notes convertible into 203 million shares.
Credit Suisse was hard-hit from exposure to US investment firm Archegos, which collapsed when it could not meet margin calls.
Analysts at JPMorgan said Credit Suisse may face another loss of around $400 million this quarter from unwinding Archegos-linked stocks. Credit Suisse has declined to comment.
It also suffered from the demise of another client, Greensill Capital, triggering internal and external enquiries and the ousting of a number of executives.
The bank reported a pre-tax loss of 757m Swiss francs (£593m), against a 1.2bn franc profit last year but marginally ahead of analysts’ expectations.
The FTSE 100 made up some of the lost ground lost in Tuesday’s rout, closing at 6,895.29, up 35.42 points (0.52%).
Asian stocks rose, extending the rebound, while oil prices eased again on worries that rising COVID-19 cases in some countries will dampen fuel demand.
Japan led the gains, with the Nikkei 225 rallying 2%, after sliding about 2% in each of the last two sessions.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rallied 0.5%, but mainland China shares were weaker, weighed down by persistent worries over Sino-U.S. tensions. Chinese blue chips lost 0.1%.
On Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose 0.9%, reversing two days of declines, to finish Wednesday’s session just 12 points below its record close.