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Domino’s hires 8,000 | Daligas fails | Hays fee income rises


5pm: FTSE 100 at near 19-month highs

The blue chip FTSE 100 index closed higher despite rising energy prices and inflation fears. It jumped 66 points, or 0.92%, to finish the session at 7,207, within touching distance of 19-month highs.

Miners ended among the best performers with BHP up 3.7%, Rio Tinto up 3.7%, Anglo American up 3.6%, Antofagasta up 3.3%, and Glencore up 3.4% as metal prices continue to rise.

Recruitment firm Hays advanced 3.02% after posting a rise in first-quarter net fees, highlighting good growth in all regions (see below).

E-commerce company THG, which lost 35% in value on Tuesday, saw some bottom fishing to close 29.2p (10.56%) higher at 305.6p.

3.30pm: Another energy failure

Daligas is the latest UK energy supplier to collapse because of soaring wholesale energy prices.

The firm supplies gas to about 9,000 domestic and non-domestic customers.

Its collapse follows yesterday’s announcement by Ofgem that Pure Planet and Colorado Energy, which have a combined 250,000 UK customers, have also failed.

9am: THG claws back losses

Shares in e-commerce company THG rebounded in early trade, up 23p (8.32%) at 299.2p, as investors bought back into the stock following Tuesday’s 35% plunge.

The FTSE 100 index was up 33 points at 7,174.59.

7am: Domino’s growth

Pizza takeaway chain Domino’s is hiring more than 8,000 drivers across the UK and Ireland.

The additional staffing is a result of “confidence that our growth momentum will be sustained”, it said in a quarterly trading update.

The company said it sold seven pizzas per minute over the period, with online orders peaking at 13 per second on 3 July as England took on Ukraine in football’s European Championship.

Sales in the 13 weeks to 26 September rose 8.8% on a like-for-like basis to £375.8 million.

Orders collected from stores – a key area of growth for the business – were up 40.3% and stand at 82% of pre-pandemic levels.

The company said it remains on target to open 30 stores this year, though it warned that supply chain issues and rising staff wages are beginning to impact on the business.

7am: National Express

National Express

Transport group National Express, which is in ongoing talks about a merger with Stagecoach, said bus patronage is now at 76% of pre-Covid levels, and it is minimising the impact of driver shortages on revenue and tightly controlling costs.

Q3 revenue is up to 83% on the same period in 2019.

Recent fuel shortages in the UK have had no impact on the business.

“We continue to anticipate underlying profit before tax for 2021 to be in line with management’s previous expectations,” it said in a third quarter update.

“As previously guided we continue to anticipate robust positive free cash flow in 2021, reflecting the improved trading performance through the year and the capital expenditure reduction actions taken in 2020.”

7am: Hays fees rise

Recruitment agency Hays said net fees in the UK & Ireland in the first quarter increased by 45% over the previous quarter, with a 69% growth in fees for permanent roles and 29% for temporary positions.

The private sector, which accounts for 71% of UK&I net fees, grew by 57% and the public sector by 21%. UK&I fees decreased by 5% versus Q1 FY20.

Most regions traded broadly in line with the overall UK business, apart from the North West and the Midlands, which grew by 74% and 51% respectively, and Scotland, which grew by 30%. London increased by 46%, including London City up 73%, and in Ireland the business increased by 46%.

At the specialism level, technology delivered “excellent growth” and accountancy & finance rebounded sharply, up 57% and 49% respectively.

The fastest growth came in HR and office support, up 127% and 94% respectively, while construction & property increased by 27%.

Consultant headcount increased by 4% in the quarter and by 15% year-on-year.

Global markets

Prices are rising around the world, with consumer price inflation in China hitting 10.7% in September, its highest for 25 years while US consumer prices rose by 5.4%.

US factory gate or PPI numbers are out later today and will show the impact of rises in the costs of transport, energy and components.

Minutes for the last Federal Reserve meeting yesterday reflected its growing concerns about prices and stated the need to stop pumping money into the US economy sooner rather than later.

Markets responded by bringing forward expectations of a US rate rise to September next year.

Despite surging prices in China the Shanghai Composite index was up 0.15%. Hong Kong’s financial markets are closed for the Chung Yeung Festival.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 jumped 1.35% and South Korea’s Kospi gained 1.09%.

In commodities, oil futures steadied, with US crude at $80.55 a barrel and Brent Crude at $83.32.

As a senior official at the Bank of England called for regulation of cryptocurrencies Bitcoin rose 1.5% to $58,550, its highest level since May.

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