Daily Business Live
Provident ends doorstep lending; Greggs upbeat
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9.30pm: Wall Street falls
Wall Street closed lower as inflation concerns returned and steered investors away from growth stocks in favour of cyclicals, which stand to benefit most as the economy reopens.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 34.94 points, or 0.1%, the S&P 500 lost 44.17 points, or 1.04%, and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 350.38 points.
5pm: Market dips
London’s blue chips dipped into negative territory in mid-afternoon, which saw the FTSE 100 closing 6.03 points lower at 7,123.68.
4.45pm: Treasury cuts RBS stake
Natwest (RBS) has moved a step closer to fully returning to private ownership after government officials announced the planned sale of a further 5% of the bank.
3pm: New board role for Davidson
Former Scottish Conservative party leader Ruth Davidson has joined Royal London as a non-executive director.
9am: London edges higher
Investors took a tentative step forward on the back of a strong showing for the Tories in the UK elections and mixed trading in Asia.
The FTSE 100 edged just 8 points higher at 7,137.51.
7am: Provident Financial shuts doorstep division
Credit company Provident Financial is closing its doorstep-lending division, putting 2,100 jobs at risk as the Covid-19 pandemic pushed the company to a £113m loss.
Its home credit business will either be sold or “run-off”, it said.
“In light of the changing industry and regulatory dynamics in the home-credit sector, as well as shifting customer preferences, it is with deepest regret that we have decided to withdraw from the home-credit market,” the company said.
Malcolm Le May, chief executive, added: The move is part of plans to become a “broader banking group to the financially underserved customer.”
7am: Greggs forecasts higher profits
The fast food baker said full-year profits could be higher than expectations and if there are no further restrictions.
Sales have recovered well as out-of-home activity levels have increased, albeit there was lower competition from cafes and restaurants.
If restrictions continue to ease in line with the government’s plans, it now expects overall sales performance for the year to be stronger than previously anticipated.
In the first 18 weeks of 2021 it opened 34 new shops, including 13 with franchise partners.
The expansion is focused on those locations where performance has proved to be most robust, such as retail parks, roadside and petrol filling stations. In the year to date, it has closed 11 shops.
In the ten weeks to 13 March, like-for-like sales tumbled 23% compared to two years ago, and shed only 4% in the eight weeks to 8 May. Total sales in the 18 weeks to 8 May 2021 were £352m.
7am: Centrica savings on target
Scottish and British Gas owner Centrica said it continued to expect year-on-year operating cost savings of more than £100m this year as part of its restructure plans.
In a trading statement it said first-quarter electricity demand from its UK business customers was negatively impacted by around 15%, residential boiler installations were down 11% and non-essential service visits were postponed due to Covid-19.
A key investor group has shared concerns over drugs maker AstraZeneca’s plans to offer a pay and bonuses package to its boss, Pascal Soriot that could amount to £18m.
Oil prices rose this morning after a major cyber attack forced the shutdown of a critical US pipeline, sparking fears of shortages.
Brent crude was up 0.6%, at $68.66 a barrel this morning, having risen 1.5% last week. US West Texas Intermediate futures rose 0.5% at $65.24 a barrel, after gaining more than 2% last week.
The FTSE 100 appears likely to open higher, taking its cue from Asia’s main bourses. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong dipped 0.45% while the Shanghai Composite in China slipped 0.37%. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.47% and South Korea’s Kospi jumped 1.59%.
Friday’s lacklustre US employment data provided a buy signal as it eased inflationary fears haunting international markets.
The Scottish National Party‘s failure to win an overall majority in last week’s election was marked by a rise in the pound against international currencies as the forex markets decided that independence had become harder for Nicola Sturgeon and her team to win.