Barratt profits surge | Gym group plans 40 openings
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5pm: Traders look to US jobs report
London’s FTSE 100 recovered from a slow start and closed around session highs, as a strong start for New York equities boosted sentiment.
The blue chip index ended 14.06 points, or 0.2%, higher at 7,163.90. The mid-cap FTSE 250 index closed down 24.56 points, or 0.1%.
Traders are looking ahead to the US August jobs report that might help shape Federal Reserve policy and investors’ perceptions of the economy.
CMC Markets plunged 27%, the worst mid-cap performer, following a profits warning. Gym Group rose 8.1% after a surge in membership numbers and a positive outlook statement (see below).
High street fashion retailer JD Sports’ expressed dismay that its acquisition of its competitor Footasylum has been put to a temporary halt by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority for a second time.
9am: FTSE 100 flat
Stocks in London were broadly flat with ex-dividend shares holding back any movement on the FTSE 100.
The FTSE 100 index was down just 2.46 points at 7,147.38.
BHP Group and Admiral were the worst performers, down 5.5% and 4.7% respectively, after the stocks went ex-dividend. Barratt Developments was down 2.4%, despite reporting strong annual results.
8.45am: Johnnnie Walker opening
Diageo chief executive Ivan Menezes today claimed the new Johnnie Walker Princes Street facility, which opens next week, will set a new standard for visitor attractions.
7am: Barratt surges
A booming housing market drove profits sharply higher at Barratt Developments.
The house builder posted a 65.1% surge in pre-tax profits to £812.2m for the year to the end of June, against £491.8m in the previous year. However, profits are still 10% below their pre-Covid accounting period.
The company has proposed a final ordinary dividend per share of 21.9p (2020: nil; 2019: 19.5p), resulting in a total ordinary dividend for the financial year of 29.4p (2020: nil; 2019: 29.1p).
Chief executive David Thomas said: “We have made excellent progress this year thanks to the resilience, flexibility and hard work of our employees, sub-contractors and suppliers.”
Chairman John Allan said: “Our business is in a strong position with substantial net cash, a well-capitalised balance sheet and a strong forward sales position.”
7am: Gym Group openings
Gym Group chief executive Richard Darwin said the company is targeting 40 new openings in the 18 months to December 2022
It has seen a strong recovery in membership numbers following re-opening, with 730,000 members at 30 June from 547,000 at the end of February.
The company posted a £27.4m adjusted loss before tax for the half year on a 21.4% fall in revenue to £29.3m (H1 2020: £37.3m).
Oil prices fell after OPEC+ agreed to stick with its policy of gradually returning supply to the market.
Brent crude was down by 16 cents, or 0.2%, at $71.43 a barrel after dropping 4 cents on Wednesday. US oil fell 23 cents, or 0.3%, to $68.36 a barrel, after rising 9 cents in the previous session.
OPEC and other producers including Russia, together known as OPEC+, agreed to continue phasing out record production reductions by adding 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) each month to the market.
On Wall Street the Nasdaq closed at a record high, rising 0.33% and the S&P 500 rose 0.03% but just missed a fresh peak, as September kicked off with renewed buying of technology stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.14%.
Over the last 20 trading days the S&P 500 posted 55 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 131 new highs and 17 new lows.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 added 0.1%, while South Korea’s Kopsi fell 0.6%.