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Stocks rise on back of pandemic recovery

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5pm: London close

Stocks in London enjoyed the benefit of some positive corporate earnings, with robust numbers from Standard Chartered among the main risers, up 14% after the emerging markets-focused lender raised its annual income growth outlook after a stellar first quarter.

Whitbread closed up 4.3% after the Premier Inn owner reported a swing to annual profit, on a strong recovery from the pandemic and reinstating its dividend.

Barclays was 3.1% higher even posting a drop in first-quarter profit as the bank started to rebuild credit impairments and felt the hit from over-selling certain securities to US investors.

Going the other way was J Sainsbury which ended the session as the worst performer, down 4.3%, after the supermarket chain warned of a weaker bottom line because of cost of living pressures impacting disposable income.

St James’s Place closed down 2.8% after the wealth manager recorded a drop in funds under management over the first quarter (see below).

The FTSE 100 index closed up 83.58 points, or 1.1%, at 7,509.19. The mid-cap FTSE 250 index ended up 181.85 points, or 0.9%.

Brent oil was quoted at $106.55 a barrel at the equities close, up from $105.34 at the close Wednesday.


7am: Barclays

Barclays has further delayed its £1 billion share buyback as it deals with a conduct charge that led to a 7% fall in quarterly profits.

The bank posted pre-tax profits of £2.23 billion for the first three months of 2022, down from £2.4bn a year ago.

Full story here


7am: Sainsbury’s profits double

Sainsbury’s saw its annual profits more than double as cost savings enabled it to increase food prices at a lower level than its rivals. But it has warned that profits will be lower this year.

Full story here


7am: Whitbread picking up

Premier Inn owner Whitbread has resumed its dividend after UK accommodation sales were 198% ahead of FY21 with total UK food and beverage sales 170.2% ahead.

Full story here


7am: Scottish Friendly

Scottish Friendly has posted record annual sales but warned the backdrop remains uncertain.

Full story here


7am: St James’s Place

Andrew Croft, chief executive, said it had been another strong quarter for St. James’s Place that maintains the momentum developed during 2021. 

He said gross and net inflows of £4.73 billion and £2.91 billion respectively were broadly in line with the first quarter of 2021, “which was an exceptionally strong period for gross inflows as sentiment improved markedly following the start of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the UK”.

“Retention of client investments continued to hold at a very strong level and this, coupled with our strong inflows, resulted in annualised net inflows as a percentage of opening funds under management of 7.6% (2021: 9.0%). This was moderated by negative investment market returns in the period, which took funds under management to £151.25 billion at 31 March 2022. 

“Our performance so far this year means that we remain comfortable with consensus expectations for new business growth in 2022 and are confident of delivering on the broader ambitions of our 2025 plan.”


7am: Weir Group takes £20m Russia hit

The Glasgow-based mining technology business said it expects to take a £20m hit from winding down its operations in Russia.

Group orders in the first quarter were up 15%, driven by significant growth in demand for spares with aftermarket orders up 28% year-on-year.

Original equipment orders were 17% lower than in the same period last year where we booked a £34m order from Ferrexpo. Adjusting for that, growth in original equipment orders was 8% in Q1 2022.

Full story here


Global markets

Oil prices dropped on as investors remained cautious over dwindling fuel demand in China, the world’s biggest oil importer, due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Brent crude futures fell $1.48, or 1.41%, to $103.84 a barrel by 0426 GMT. US West Texas Intermediate crude futures slipped $1.39, or 1.36%, to $100.63 a barrel.

Facebook owner Meta restored some calm to the nervous tech sector with well-received numbers overnight.

Shares in the social network jumped 20% in after-hours trading as profits came in ahead of expectations while active user numbers edged up slightly to 1.96 billion and slightly ahead of forecasts.

The figures helped underpin a tech sector which had been rattled by disappointing data from Google owner Alphabet and Netflix.

Nasdaq fell ahead of the Meta figures,  though futures pointed to a rally today with Asian markets also higher heading towards the close. 

At the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.19%, as the S&P 500 added 0.21% and the Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.01%, or just 1.81 points.

Apple and Amazon report later today and are regarded as a bigger influence on the direction of the economy.



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