Market report

Markets tumble after Russia attack | high street enjoys uplift


5pm: Markets crash

The FTSE 100 suffered its biggest one-day fall since the start of the Covid pandemic, down 291.17 points (3.88%) at 7,207.01.

The Russian stock market tumbled by more than 35%.

In London, steelmaker Evraz, whose major shareholder is Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, slumped 74.75p (30.39%) to 172.2p.

The top gainer in a sea of red was BAE Systems, which rose by 5.1% to 631.60p, as investors switched to defence stocks. 

Rolls-Royce Holdings fell 19% as chief executive Warren East announced he would be stepping down.

Global oil benchmark Brent jumped 6.7% to $103.36 per barrel, passing the $100 level for the first time since 2014.

US markets opened weaker, the Dow Jones down by 11% in the year to date, the S&P500 by 13.4% and the Nasdaq by 19%.

1.15pm: Capricorn receives India rebate

Capricorn Energy, formerly Cairn Energy. said the expected Indian tax refund of INR79 billion has now been paid and net proceeds of $1.06 billion have been received.

A circular is expected to be issued in early March detailing the shareholder resolutions required in connection with the proposed shareholder return of up to $700 million, comprising a $500 million tender offer and $200 million ongoing share repurchase programme.

1pm: FTSE continues to fall

The FTSE 100 was trading 234.6 points lower (3.13%) at 7,263.58.

11.30am: Russian contracts cancelled

Global software company, Ideagen has terminated contracts with all suppliers and customers in Russia in one of the first corporate actions in response to the Ukraine invasion.

Ideagen CEO Ben Dorks said: “Ideagen stands firmly behind the people and nation of Ukraine. With immediate effect, we have terminated contracts with all suppliers and customers in Russia and strongly condemn the actions of the Russian government.

Mr Dorks continues: “We will continue to offer any support we can to our partners in Ukraine and offer our prayers to its people.”

Ideagen’s software helps more than 7,000 companies comply with regulation and manage risk, serving highly regulated industries such as life sciences, healthcare, banking and finance and insurance. Clients include nine of the top 10 UK accounting firms, seven of the top aerospace and defence companies and 75% of leading pharmaceutical firms.

Big brands include Aggreko, BAE, British Airways, Heineken and Johnson Matthey.

11am: Shoppers return to shops

Retail sales volumes were above seasonal norms in February, as shoppers returned to high streets, according to the latest CBI quarterly Distributive Trades Survey.

Online sales fell sharply and for only the second time since 2009.

The key findings included: 

  • Retail sales volumes were above seasonal norms in February (+16%), following a weaker-than-normal January (-23%). Seasonal sales are expected to be average in March (-1%).
  • Retail selling prices continued to grow rapidly in the year to February (+75% from +77% in November) with a slight acceleration expected next month (+81%).  
  • Internet sales declined in the year to February (-11% from -2% in January). This is only the second time in survey history that internet sales have fallen (question was first asked in August 2009). Sales are expected to be broadly flat next month (-2%). 
  • Retail stocks in relation to expected sales were seen as slightly poor, despite improving on last month (-4% from -11% in January). Expectations are for stock positions to strengthen slightly next month (+4%). 
  • Employment growth slowed in the year to February (+8% from +19% in November). Headcounts are expected to grow at a similar pace next month (+5%). 
  • Investment intentions for the next 12 months (compared to the last 12) remain strong, to a broadly similar degree to last quarter (+30% from +31% in November). 

11am: Further fall in stocks

The FTSE 100 was down 222.33 points (2.97%) at 7,275.85.

9am: Russia strike hits markets

Russia-exposed stocks were slide ahead of likely further sanctions following the attack on Ukraine. The FTSE 100 plummeted 184.02 points (2.45%) to 7,314.16.

Steelmaker Evraz, whose biggest shareholder is Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, is the biggest faller in the FTSE 100 index, down 30% at 172.7p, while Polymetal International has lost 5.74%.

A bad day for equities coincides with a flood of announcements from blue chips.  Rolls-Royce Holdings fell 13.51% while Lloyds Banking Group lost 5.9%.

Amid concern over the impact of the conflict on travel, British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines Group dropped 6.15%.

Tech investor Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust lost 5.7% in response to the falls on the US Nasdaq market.

7am: Rolls-Royce CEO leaving

Warren East, chief executive of aero-engine maker Rolls-Royce, will step down at the end of 2022.

His decision comes after guiding the company back into the black, posting a £124m annual statutory profit against a £3.1 billion loss last time. Underlying operating profit came in at £414m, from a prior year loss of £2bn.

Full story here

7am: Lloyds Banking Group

Pre-tax profits for the year to 31 December 2021 came in at £6.9bn, up from £1.2bn the year before, as an improved economic outlook in the UK led to a net underlying impairment credit of £1.2bn compared with a £4.2bn charge in 2020.

Full story here

7am: Centrica profits double

British Gas owner Centrica posted a surge in profits amid soaring gas prices and announced that its CEO will waive his annual bonus after the company was bombarded with complaints from angry customers.

Full story here

7am: BAE Systems

Defence company BAE Systems announced annual sales up by £0.4bn to £21.3bn, a 5% increase, excluding the impact of currency translation. Underlying EBIT increased to £2,205m, a 13% increase on a constant currency basis.

Full story here

7am: Strong figures from Macfarlane

Packaging company Macfarlane Group said chairman Stuart Paterson will stand down this year once a new chairman has been identified and a smooth transition ensured.

The group said it has performed strongly in the year ended 31 December with results well ahead of the previous year and better than market expectations.

Full story here

7am: Hays posts ‘excellent performance’

Recruitment firm Hays said fees for the half year to the end of December were up 39% and operating profit rose 327% to £101.6 million.

It reported excellent performance in all regions, driven by investments to capitalise on the strong rebound in client and candidate confidence and with excellent consultant productivity.

Operating profit for FY22 is now expected to be between £210-215n, ahead of consensus market expectations.

Paul Venables has decided to retire as group finance director on 30 September 2022. James Hilton, group financial controller, will succeed him and join the board.

Global markets

Following President Putin’s military action in Ukraine, the FTSE 100 was called 150 points lower.

Brent crude oil surged above $100 a barrel, a level last seen only in 2014. It was trading over 4.1% higher at $101.12 per barrel at 0440 GMT in Asian trade.

It jumped to as much as $102.08 before retreating. Spot gold prices, traditionally seen as a safe asset, advanced 1.05% to trade at $1,927.67.

Asian stock markets and US futures plunged. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index declined 3.2%. Korea’s Kospi dropped 2.7%. Japan’s Nikkei 225 lost 2.4%. China’s Shanghai Composite moved 0.9% lower.

US stocks futures also tumbled. Dow futures were down as much as 780 points, or 2.4%. S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures were down 2.3% and 2.8% respectively.

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