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Shops’ office plea; latest FNZ ruling; car sales fall

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5pm: Shares edge higher

London stocks managed to end the week in positive territory as strong construction data gave a lift to housebuilders, while travel stocks remained under water. British Airways owner IAG, engine maker Rolls-Royce, and budget airlines easyJet and Wizz Air were all lower, falling 0.93%, 2.15%, 2.63% and 3.27%, respectively.

The FTSE 100 ended the session up 5 points (0.07%) at 7,069.04.


4.30pm: FNZ ‘repurchase’ solution

Edinburgh wrap platform technology provider FNZ has been told it must sell GBST – the Australian firm it acquired for £150m in 2019 – to allay competition concerns but it will have the option to “repurchase certain parts” of the business.

In the latest development in the drawn-out process, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it could acquire those assets relating to its capital markets business.

The assets would be restricted to those that do not affect GBST’s competitiveness in the supply of retail investment platform solutions.

Today the CMA announced this approach to be the best course of action.

A spokesman for FNZ, which will assume some of the back office operations resulting from James Hay’s takeover of Nucleus, said: “We will now digest the detail of the CMA’s decision and consider our next steps.”


2pm: US jobs data below forecast

London shares clawed back some losses and Wall Street futures turned green after the latest US jobs data showed a 559,000 gain in non-farm payrolls in May.

Economists at Capital Economics said it was at least an improvement on the 278,000 gain in April but short of a forecast 675,000.

With the level of employment still at 7.6 million below its pre-pandemic peak, they say it would take more than 12 months at that pace to fully eradicate the shortfall.

As it is, the lower figure is likely to calm inflationary fears.

John Leiper, chief investment officer at Tavistock Wealth, said it doesn’t mean the recovery is faltering. “Quite the contrary, the US economy is charging ahead gangbusters.

“Instead, today’s miss speaks to the ongoing mismatch between strong demand for labour and the reality of lacklustre supply.”

The FTSE 100 was trading off its low of 7,040 at 7,058.53, down 6 points.


10.15am: Construction soaring

Construction output was described by one analyst as moving “from hot to white hot” as new figures show it growing at its fastest rate for nearly seven years last month.

Full story here


9.30am: Car sales down

Car showroom Perth

New car sales were 14.7% lower last month compared with May 2019.

There were 156,737 new cars registered in the UK last month, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.

That represents an eight-fold increase from May 2020 when retailers were closed, but remains well down compared with pre-pandemic levels.

The plug-in market continues to rise, accounting for 13.8% of sales so far this year.


8.30am: London awaits US job figures

The FTSE 100 opened flat at 7,062.01 (−2.34 points) as traders await US labour market figures later today.


8.15am: Wooha assets acquired

The assets of Wooha Brewing Company have been acquired by North Coast Brewing Co.

Full story here


7am: Whisky IPO

Shares in the Artisanal Spirits Company, owner of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, have been priced at 112p giving it a value of £77.96 million ahead of trading beginning today on the Alternative Investment Market.

Full story here


7am: Space and People upbeat

Intu Braehead

Shopping centre display company Space and People remains positive after slumping to a £3.6 million pre-tax loss for the year to the end of December from a £104m profit last time. Revenue fell to £2.8m from a restated £7.7m.

The company received a £1m CBILS term loan in the first half of 2020 and it secured significant new business for former Intu venues and new contracts in Germany.

Chairman George Watt said: “It is through the hard work and resilience of all of our staff and management that SpaceandPeople has not only survived these difficult market conditions, but has actually built a stronger base as we hopefully head into a period of more stability and economic recovery.”

In her first annual statement, chief executive Nancy Cullen said that the group now has “an unparalleled network of mall spaces in premium venues which we exclusively manage.”

She added: “We are excited about the prospect of a world where pop up/short-term retail and brand vibrancy are seen as critical features of the property mix.  

“We have a series of new initiatives and products designed to support new retail offers and we are looking to streamline sales with our systems including the ability to book our spaces online via a new booking portal.”


12.01am: Shop footfall down by a quarter

Shop and mask

Scottish consumers made only a tentative return to the shops last month as footfall decreased by 24.7% compared to May 2019.

Wet weather and the continued lockdown in Glasgow will have impacted the figures, though David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said policy makers could help by more easing of the restrictions.

“Reopening alone has yet to prove a magic bullet for our hard-pressed retail industry, the country’s largest private sector employer, which remains unable to trade at capacity due to physical distancing and caps on the number of customers in stores,” he said.

“Without a rebound in footfall and increased demand, many retailers will struggle to make ends meet, placing a question mark over the viability of stores and jobs and the vitality of our retail destinations. 

“Retailers are playing their part in trying to tempt shoppers, but policy makers need to think more creatively too about how they might reignite consumer confidence, entice people back into our retail destinations, and kick-start demand – through a clear plan for the safe return of office workers, and perhaps through free parking, or a voucher scheme to encourage customers to the shops as is planned for Northern Ireland.” 


Global markets

Traders are looking ahead to forecasts on US jobs later today. The unemployment rate is expected to ease to 5.9% from April’s 6.1%, which would be the lowest level since April of last year, while wages are expected to have grown 0.2% month-on-month after a 0.7% hike in April.

US markets closed lower, the Dow Jones sliding 23 points and the S&P500 15 points.

In Asia this morning, Japan’s Nikkei 225 was trading 107 points down while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was flat.



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