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US jobs fall short | shops footfall down | Iomart bank deal

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4.30pm: FTSE 100 falls

The FTSE 100 tipped into negative territory in the final hours of trading, closing 6.89 points lower at 7,122.32.


2pm: US job figures disappoint

Markets were left disappointed after the US economy added just 210,000 jobs in the month of November. Economists had been expecting a gain of 535,000.

However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said the unemployment rate fell further than predicted, from 4.6% to 4.2%. The rate was expected to fall to 4.5%

“It is unsettling to see that we were unable to build on October’s strong numbers, with uncertainty only set to increase as the winter progresses,” said Steve Rick, chief economist at CUNA Mutual Group.

“That said, it is not completely surprising that this month fell short, with the country preparing to respond to the omicron variant and continuing to battle rising inflation and the ongoing supply chain crisis.”


9.30am: Blue chips rising

A 0.6% rise in the FTSE 100 on Friday [just after opening] means the UK index has now suffered less than a 2% decline since the eve of the big sell-off on 26 November, which was triggered by shocking headlines declaring Omicron to be the worst ever Covid-19 variant, says Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

“Under the circumstances, the movement in the index could have been a lot worse given the events of the past week.

“We’ve seen Covid rates shoot up, governments reintroduce travel restrictions, the return of masks in shops and public transport, the boss of a leading drug company saying existing vaccines may not be as effective against Omicron, and the head of the US central bank imply that interest rates may go up sooner than expected to combat inflation.

“Investors certainly don’t seem to be in panic mode, with many people happy to buy on the dips.

“A week ago, the travel sector had a big shock as the new variant struck, causing some stocks including International Consolidated Airlines to slump on the market. Fast forward to the present and the British Airways is at the top of the FTSE 100 leaderboard, rising 3%.

“The market has been following a similar pattern since Omicron emerged, namely on down days investors dumped economically sensitive stocks in the commodities, banking and travel space. On up days, these sectors were in demand. However, today we’ve seen the trend fall apart. Oil producers are rising, miners are weak, and banks are flat.”

The FTSE 100 was trading just in positive territory, off its earlier highs at 7,144.67, up 15.46 (0.22%).


8.10am: Crosbie joins Nationwide

Debbie Crosbie has been appointed as the next CEO of Nationwide Building Society.

She will be replaced on an interim basis at TSB by Robin Bulloch, chief customer officer, and will work with Ms Crosbie on an orderly handover. 

Full story here


7am: Iomart refinances

Cloud computing firm Iomart has agreed a refinancing, replacing the company’s existing single bank revolving credit facility of £80 million that was due to mature on 30 September 2022, with a new £100m RCF provided by HSBC UK, Royal Bank of Scotland, Bank of Ireland and Clydesdale Bank.

The new facility has an initial maturity date of 30 June 2025, with a 12-month extension option and benefits from a £50m accordion facility in addition to the £100m committed facility.

Both will be used for working capital purposes and to fund investments, in accordance with the company’s five-year strategic plan.


Retail footfall falls

Multrees Walk, shop, retail, Edinburgh

Shopper footfall decreased by a fifth (19.8%) in November (Yo2Y), a 2.8 percentage point decrease from October.

This is below the UK average decline of 15.7% (Yo2Y). For the fourth consecutive month, Scotland saw the deepest decline in footfall of all UK nations.

Shopping Centre footfall declined by 28.0% in November (Yo2Y) in Scotland, down from -26.3% in October.

Glasgow recorded the weakest performance of the eleven UK cities surveyed, although many shoppers would have been put off visiting the city by the COP26 summit.

Scottish Retail Consortium director David Lonsdale said: “These dreich figures are profoundly worrying and come during what could be a make-or-break festive trading period for some firms with the industry.:”

Last week the SRC urged Finance Secretary Kate Forbes to adopt the voucher scheme in Northern Ireland which has pumped £100m into the economy.


Global markets

Attention focuses on US non-farm payroll numbers with expectations of a further fall in unemployment to 4.5%.

US markets pushed aside worries over Omicron and inflation with the Dow Jones up 618 points and the S&P 500 64 points higher.

Asian markets were more mixed this morning with the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo up 247 points and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong down 34 points.

The FTSE 100 index will continue its rollercoaster week and was due to open 33 points higher at 7,162 according to spread betting quotes.



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