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Growth slows | Ted Baker cuts loss | Aviva | Taylor Wimpey


5pm: Blue chips flirt with pre-pandemic high

The FTSE 100 closed near to its pre-pandemic level, outperforming most of its major international rivals.

On a day which also saw the Dax in Germany reach a new record, the blue chip index ended the session 44 points higher at 7,384 after hitting an intra-day high of 7,394.

On 21 February 2020, the FTSE 100 closed at 7,404 points but within three weeks had dropped to 5,237.

Today’s surge was helped along by a 14.1% rise in shares of Auto Trader following good results, as well the performances of mining giants as copper and precious metals prices stayed strong, pushing up BHP, Antofagasta, Polymetal, Glencore and others.

This helped to offset a 19.1% fall for Johnson Matthey which announced a profit warning and a plan to exit its battery materials business just as battery power is being touted as a major tool against global warming. Full story here.

7.15am: GDP growth slows


A business lobby group has urged the Bank of England to resist raising interest rates after official figures showed economic growth between July and September slowed to 1.3%.

The Office for National Statistics said there was stronger consumer spending during the period.

However, the ONS also flagged signs that supply chain issues were hampering growth.

Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: “The third quarter slowdown is likely to be the start of a sustained period of sluggish growth as staff shortages, supply chain disruption and surging inflation increasingly stifles economic output.  

“Consequently, on a quarterly basis, the UK economy is only likely to return to its pre-pandemic level next year, behind many of our international competitors. 

“With the headwinds facing the UK economy growing, we would caution the Bank of England against raising interest rates in the near term to avoid destabilising an already brittle recovery.” 

7am: Ted Baker on profit path

Ted Baker

Fashion retailer Ted Baker said it was making progress to return to profitability after cutting its loss before tax by £61.1m or 70.7% to £25.3m.

First half brand sales in the 28 weeks to 14 August rose 23% to £433m and group revenue was up 17.6% to £199.3m, driven by a return to retail growth and the partial relaxation of COVID restrictions globally.

Rachel Osborne, chief executive, commented: “I’m pleased with the continued progress we’re making, as we return to revenue growth, and make big strides back towards profitability.

“The brand remains healthy, delivering a stronger full price mix alongside encouraging early reactions to the new collection.. The pandemic continues to impact the global retail environment, yet despite this we are delivering against our Transformation Plan.

“I remain confident that our turnaround of this great global lifestyle brand is on course and that Ted will emerge as a stronger business.”

7am: Aviva on track


Insurance group Aviva said it has seen record inflows in Savings & Retirement and excellent growth in its General Insurance division. It said it is on track to deliver its £300m cost reductions.

Group CEO Amanda Blanc said: “Aviva has delivered strong performance in the first nine months. Record inflows in Savings & Retirement and excellent growth in General Insurance support our confidence in Aviva’s growth potential.

“Savings & Retirement net flows were up 21% year-to-date, continuing the strong first half performance. Bulk annuity volumes accelerated sharply in the third quarter.

“General Insurance premiums1 grew 5% year-to-date reflecting solid customer retention and new business wins, particularly in commercial lines.

“We continue to make excellent and rapid strategic progress, right across Aviva. The completion of disposals in France and Italy GI since the half year are significant milestones as we deliver a radically simplified and refocused Aviva.

“We are delivering our commitment to return at least £4bn of capital to shareholders, with c.£450m of the £750m share buyback already successfully completed.

“We look forward with confidence. We expect the good trading momentum to continue in the fourth quarter, and we remain on track to meet or exceed our cash and cost saving targets.”

7am: Taylor Wimpey ‘robust’

Taylor Wimpey

Taylor Wimpey said it was seeing robust demand and expects annual earnings to top expectations.

Britain’s third-largest house builder said its current total order book, excluding joint ventures, stood at about £2.8 billion as of 8 November, compared with about £3bn a year ago.

“We continue to see house price inflation fully offsetting build cost inflation,” said chief executive Pete Redfern in a trading update.

“As widely reported, the industry has experienced pressures on the cost and availability of certain materials and a general shortage of drivers for haulage. 

“There has been easing in certain areas, and going forward, we expect conditions to gradually improve as suppliers adjust to current demand levels. We continue to effectively manage these pressures, aided by our scale and strong partner relationships and agreements.”

Pete Redfern, chief executive, commented: “We are pleased with performance in the second half to date, and remain on track to deliver full year 2021 results in line with previous guidance.

“We have been building a strong forward order book for 2022 and continue to see good demand for our homes, supported by a positive market backdrop.

“Looking ahead, market conditions remain supportive, and with the benefit of our strong land position we are well placed to deliver against our medium term targets.”

Global markets

US based asset management firm T Rowe Pride has taken a 5% stake in online retail platform THG which has suffered sharp falls in recent weeks.

Sentiment in the US is focused on inflation after this week’s CPI data marking America’s highest level in decades.

The Dow Jones ended Wednesday down 0.66% whilst the S&P 500 dropped 0.82% and the Nasdaq ended the session down 1.66%

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei rose by 0.59% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.72%. The Shanghai Composite moved up 1.1%.

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