Market report

Wetherspoon loss increases | CR Smith profits edge higher


5pm: Shares close lower

London equities remained under water at the close, amid ongoing concerns about inflation. The FTSE 100 ended the session down 0.84% at 7,027.07.

British Airways and Iberia parent IAG and engine maker Rolls-Royce were both higher, by 5.33% and 1.96%, respectively, recovering from heavy losses in the previous session.

Pub chain JD Wetherspoon reversed earlier losses to close up 2.49%, after saying it had plunged to its worst full-year loss ever as revenues tumbled after its pubs were forced to shut due to Covid measures (see below).

The horror show continued at Scottish direct to consumer ready meals service Parsley Box whose shares fell a further 42.62% or 26p to 35p following a 38% or 37.6p fall on Thursday after it said it had been hit by supply problems.

10.15am: CR Smith sees demand return

Gerrard Eadie CR Smith

CR Smith Glazers said operating profits came in at £170,223 for the 16 months to the end of December, taking into account four months of lockdown, compared to a profit of £160,886 in 2019.

Turnover dipped slightly to £23.5m from £23.9m in the previous period.

Full story here

10am: London off lows

London’s blue chip shares are off their lowest of the session with banks and cyclicals bearing the brunt of the initial sell-off sparked by similar moves by US stocks overnight.

Lloyds Banking Group is holding up the FTSE 100 with the index down 58 points or 0.8% at 7,029. 

Utilities are the only sector in the green as investors look for defensive options.

7am: Wetherspoon losses increase

JD Wetherspoon

Pubs chain Wetherspoons posted an increased loss before tax and exceptional items of £154.7m (2020: -£34.1m) for the year to 25 July as sales sank by 38.8% to £772.6m.

Chairman Tim Martin, a critic of the government’s lockdown measures, said: “During the pandemic, the pressure on pub managers and staff has been particularly acute, with a number of nationwide and regional pub closures and reopenings, often with very little warning, each of which resulted in different regulations.”

“Like-for-like sales in the first nine weeks of the current financial year were 8.7% lower than the same weeks in August and September 2019, before the pandemic started. In the last four weeks of the period, like-for-like sales were minus 6.4%

“Excluding airport pubs, where like-for-like sales declined by 47.3%, like-for-like sales declined by 7.1% in the first nine weeks, and by 4.9% in the last four.

“Total employee numbers averaged 39,025 in the financial year, which increased to 42,003 for the week ending 20 September 2021.

“On average, Wetherspoon has received a reasonable number of applications for vacancies, as indicated by the increase in employee numbers, but some areas of the country, especially “staycation” areas in the West Country and elsewhere, have found it hard to attract staff,” said Mr Martin.

7am: Iomart profit warning

Glasgow-based cloud computing firm iomart Group issued a profits warning because some revenue streams came in lower than in the previous year.

It said it was just a few months into a refreshed strategy and the expected success of the transition of the business will take time to flow through into results.

Full story here

Disney and Johansson settle legal dispute

Walt Disney and the actress Scarlett Johansson have settled a legal dispute over the release of the Marvel superhero movie Black Widow.

Ms Johansson sued Disney two months ago, accusing it of breaching her contract when it offered the movie on its Disney+ streaming service while it was still showing in cinemas.

She said the decision meant that she was deprived of potential earnings.

Details of the deal have not been disclosed.

Global markets

Wall Street closed sharply lower with all three major stock indexes suffering their worst quarterly performance since the opening months of 2020. The S&P 500 posted ts worst month since the beginning of the global health crisis.

The session concluded a quarter characterised by fears over inflation and uncertainty over the tapering of stimulus measures. Some of the bullish sentiment around corporate earnings has also waned.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.59%, the S&P 500 lost 1.19% and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.44%.

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai will unveil the Biden administration’s long-awaited strategy for the troubled US-China trade relationship in a speech on Monday at a Washington think tank, her office said.

The FTSE 100 closed down 21.74 points (0.31%) at 7,086.42, having gained as much as 0.7% earlier in the session as the dollar earners in the index took a hit from sterling’s strong gains.

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