ASOS sees switch to occasion wear | jobless rate falls
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5pm: London lower
Stocks in London closed sharply lower amid concern that a spike in coronavirus infections driven by the Delta variant may impact on the reopening of the economy.
The FTSE 100 index closed down 79.19 points, or 1.1%, at 7,012.02. In Paris the CAC 40 and Frankfurt’s DAX 30 both ended the session 1% lower.
The standout performer in London was Avast, up 18%, after the cybersecurity firm and US peer NortonLifeLock confirmed they are in advanced talks regarding a possible combination.
AIM-quoted online fashion chain ASOS slumped 18% after warning of slower growth.
9am: Travel stocks hit
Airlines were among the fallers in early trade following changes to UK travel restrictions.
Budget airlines easyJet, Wizz Air and Ryanair were down 2.4%, 1.5% and 1.1%, respectively, while British Airways-parent International Consolidated Airlines Group lost 1.6%. TUI was 2.7% lower.
The FTSE 100 index was down 13.84 points, or 0.2%, at 7,077.35.
7.30am: Unemployment rate falls
UK unemployment dropped in the latest quarter following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.
Between March and May the unemployment rate fell 0.2 percentage points to 4.8%, while in Scotland it fell by the same amount to 4.4%.
The number of job vacancies in the UK surpassed pre-pandemic levels in the three months to June.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said there were 862,000 jobs on offer between April and June, 77,500 higher than the quarter of 2020.
Jack Kennedy, UK economist at the global job site Indeed, said: “The recovery is churning out new jobs at a prolific rate and giving many of those still on furlough an opportunity to return to the workplace.
Matthew Percival, CBI director for people and skills, said: “Vacancies exceeding pre-Covid levels is a further sign of demand returning and employers creating jobs.”
7am: ASOS notes switch to ‘occasion’ wear
Group Sales at online fashion group ASOS said the product mix, and associated returns rates, have started to reflect a shift back into occasion wear in recent weeks.
Sales were up 21% in the four months to the end of June supported by strong growth in the UK and an acceleration in demand in the US.
Nick Beighton, CEO, said: “We believe that the structure of the global e-commerce fashion market has changed forever, which will drive an increase in online fashion sales over the long term.
“We’re excited about the size of the prize ahead of us and the opportunity of delivering on our ambition of being the number one destination for fashion-loving 20-somethings.”
7am: STV hits viewing record
STV said it has enjoyed the highest viewing growth of any of the UK’s 500+ TV channels and its biggest share since 2006.
The company also said advertising trends continue to improve, with total advertising revenue (TAR) growth of 32% in the six months to June over the same period last year.
Simon Pitts, STV Chief Executive, said: “STV has made an excellent start to 2021.
“Euro 2020 has lifted spirits, broken hearts and delivered a record viewing and commercial performance for STV.
“We have plenty more to look forward to in 2021, with STV Studios on track to deliver its most successful year yet.”
Wall Street equity markets lacked direction amid continuing debate over the future of any stimulus measures. The Dow Jones finished Wednesday up just 0.13% while the S&P 500 marked a 0.12% gain and the Nasdaq Composite slipped back by 0.22%.
Stocks in Asia-Pacific were mixed this morning as official data showed China’s GDP rose 7.9% year-on-year in the second quarter, slightly lower than forecasts.
The Shanghai Composite in China gained 0.45% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index surged 1.13%
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 slumped 1.17% while South Korea’s Kospi lifted 0.50%.