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Growth slows | Primark ‘well stocked’ | Heathrow hit

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5pm: London slips

London’s FTSE 100 closed down 29.48 points, or 0.4%, at 7,291.78 though it ended the week 2.4% higher.

British American Tobacco closed the best blue-chip performer, rising 2.5%, during a strong session for defensive stocks. Consumer goods firm Unilever added 0.8% and photo booth operator Photo-Me International advanced 4.7%.

Brent oil was quoted at $74.64 a barrel late Friday, down from $75.22 on Thursday.


4pm: Bain bid rejected

Members of mutual insurer LV= have blocked a controversial takeover by US private equity firm Bain Capital.

Full story here


11.30am: Shell vote on relocation

Shell shareholders have voted in favour of a plan to move the company’s headquarters and its tax home from the Netherlands to London.

Latest here


9am: Markets slip on growth figures

UK stocks fell as investors digested disappointing UK growth figures. The FTSE 100 was down 6.79 points at 7,314.47.

Data released earlier by the Office for National Statistics (see below) showed the economy managed barely any growth in October, up just 0.1% month on month.

Paul Dales, chief UK economist at Capital Economics, said: “At such low rates of growth, the government’s ‘Plan B’ Covid-19 restrictions could be the difference between the economy growing or contracting in December.”

He estimated that ‘Plan B’ restrictions could reduce GDP by up to 0.5% this month.

“That means it is touch-and-go whether the economy will grow or contract this month. Against that background, we doubt the Bank of England will raise interest rates next Thursday,” he said.

Associated British Foods was trading higher after it said Primark trading for the year to date has been ahead of expectations (see below).

Housebuilder Berkeley Group rallied after price target upgrades at Citigroup, Barclays and JPMorgan.


7.30am: Economic growth slows

 Economic growth showed signs of slowing as new figures show a mere 0.1% advance in October, according to the Office for National Statistics on Friday.

The ONS said the UK economy remains 0.5% below its pre-coronavirus pandemic level.

UK GDP grew by 0.9% in the three months to October compared to the three months previously, mainly reflecting the strong performance of the services sector in September, the ONS noted.

The sluggish growth figures will likely fuel expectations that the Bank of England will keep interest rates on hold next Thursday.


7am: Primark well stocked

Primark

Primark said it has stock cover on the vast majority of lines for the Christmas trading period.

It is trading ahead of expectations with improved like-for-like sales compared to the fourth quarter.

The company is part of Associated British Foods whose chairman, Michael McLintock, will tell the AGM that trading to date in its new financial year across grocery, sugar, ingredients and agriculture has been in line with expectations.

“We are experiencing the impact of widely reported port congestion and road freight limitations and our businesses have been working hard to overcome these difficulties.

“We have seen an escalation in the cost of energy, logistics and commodities and we have been implementing plans to offset these through operational cost savings and, where necessary, the implementation of price increases.”


7am: Heathrow says confidence falls

Britain’s biggest airport says it could be “several years” before international travel recovers to 2019 levels.

New Government-imposed travel restrictions have further dampened passenger confidence, said Heathrow, as demand at Britain’s biggest airport fell by 60% on pre-pandemic levels, despite the US reopening earlier in the month.

Full story here


Global markets

UK equity traders are awaiting on this afternoon’s US inflation report to provide some direction.

Spread betting quotes point to the FTSE 100 index opening 34 points lower at 7,287.

US markets fell back, with the S&P 500 down by 0.7% and the Nasdaq Composite tumbling 1.7%.

Asian markets were lower as Chinese property giant Evergrande was officially labelled a defaulter for the first time.

China’s Shanghai Composite slipped 0.36% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was 0.79% weaker.

The Nikkei in Japan slumped 1% while South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.59%.



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