Daily Business Live

Job vacancies rise | JD Sports soars | SMS completes placing


5pm: Equities close lower

The FTSE 100 closed lower, down 34.37 points at 7,034.06 despite better than expected US inflation figures.

JD Sports Fashion bucked the trend after releasing upbeat figures. Its shares closed at an all-time high, up 9.72% at 1151p.

2.15pm: Utility firms collapse

Two energy suppliers, Scotland-based People’s Energy and Utility Point, have announced they are ceasing to trade. 

People’s Energy supplies gas and electricity to around 350,000 domestic customers and around 1,000 non-domestic customers. 

Full story here

2pm: US inflation ‘may have peaked’

Underlying US consumer prices increased at their slowest pace in six months in August, suggesting that inflation had probably peaked.

Daniele Antonucci, chief economist & macro strategist at Quintet Private Bank, said: “The inflation spike, by and large, is driven by transitory factors, ranging from supply bottlenecks to the release of pent-up demand post-reopening.

“We don’t believe that some of these transitory factors, such as semiconductor shortages and higher shipping costs, will fade quickly. So we expect inflation to stay elevated in the near term.

“This outlook suggests to us that the Fed is likely to announce a gradual taper of the assert purchases, while at the same time refraining from hiking interest rates for the time being. We expect a taper announcement in November, possibly translating into higher Treasury yields.”

11am: Markets await US inflation data

World share markets remained cautious for most of the morning as investors awaited US inflation data for more clues on the health of the world’s largest economy and when the Federal Reserve could start to taper stimulus.

The FTSE 100 was trading 24 points lower at 7,044.34, off its session low of 7,020.

AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould said: “Metals and minerals producers were principally to blame for the FTSE 100 falling… in part caused by concerns about Covid spreading across Asia again and how that might affect commodities demand.

“That worry was also behind share price weakness in luxury goods companies including Kering and LVMH, down between 3% and 4%.”

JD Sports was up another 8% after impressing investors with its latest figures (see below). Shares in the group are up 33% over the last year, compared to a gain of 17% for the wider FTSE100.

7.05am: Job vacancies rise

Job vacancies have hit a record high as the furlough scheme starts to wind down, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Vacancies rose above one million for the first time in the three months to August.

The number of payroll employees rose 241,000 to 29.1 million in August 2021, returning to the pre-pandemic levels of February 2020.

The unemployment rate fell to 4.6% in the three months to July, in line with forecasts. In Scotland it fell to 4.3%.

ONS deputy statistician, Jonathan Athow, said: “Early estimates from payroll data suggest that in August the total number of employees is around the same level as before the pandemic, though our surveys show well over a million are still on furlough.”

The figures also come ahead of the end of the furlough scheme with unions and employers warning of a spike in redundances as government support ends.

7am: Springfield builds on record results

Springfield Properties reported its highest ever revenue and profit, substantial reduction in net debt and a strong outlook.

The Elgin-based company said it had seen strong build and sales activity throughout the year with high demand experienced across the business resulting in significant growth in revenue in private and affordable housing.

Profit before tax in the year to the end of May 2021 soared 81.4% to £18.5m from £10.2m in the previous 12 months.

Full story here

7am: JD Sports sees surge in earnings

JD Sports Fashion enjoyed a surge in first-half earnings on robust demand for sportswear as lockdown restrictions ease.

However, it said it was withholding its interim dividend and hinted instead at a “larger full year dividend”.

The company, which is Britain’s largest sportswear retailer, said pretax profit rose to £364.6m for the six months ended 31 July from £41.5m last time.

7am: SMS completes fund-raising

Glasgow-based Smart Metering Systems said it had raised gross proceeds of £175 million in an oversubscribed placing of shares in accordance with its announcement after the market closed last night.

The shares have an issue price of 900p which represents a discount of 6.2% to the volume weighted average price of the shares in the 20 trading days prior to 13 September and will account for 14.6% of the group’s issued shares.

Trading in the new shares will commence on 4 October.

Global markets

London’s blue chips were expected to see a modest uplift ahead of the release of UK unemployment figures.

On Wall Street the Dow Jones and S&P 500 gained 0.8% and 0.2% respectively, while the tech-led Nasdaq slipped 0.1%.

The focus is on the US inflation data tonight where the consumer price index is expected to rise 0.4% and core CPI at 0.3%.

China’s Shanghai Composite slipped 0.54% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.20%

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 gained 0.62% while South Korea’s Kospi surged 1.10%.

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