Centrica hires support staff | Macfarlane’s ‘solid start’
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10pm: Mixed session for markets
London edged higher but Wall Street lost steam after some early gains to end the session in the red ahead of some key inflation data scheduled for release tomorrow.
At the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.26%, while the S&P 500 was 0.25% firmer at and the Nasdaq Composite saw out the session 0.98% stronger.
The FTSE 100 added 26.64 points to close at 7,243.22. European bourses followed suit with Germany’s Dax rising 1.15% and France’s CAC 40 index adding 0.5%.
In London defensive stocks helped lead the market higher, with tobacco firm Imperial Brands up 1.5%, or 24p, to 1676.5p while BAT gained 0.1%, or 4.5p, to 3306.5p.
Dividend payers rose as investors sought out better returns following the latest sell-off, with consumer goods giant Unilever adding 1.8%, or 64.5p, to 3700.5p and housebuilder Barratt Developments up 2.6%, or 12p, to 471.1p.
Banking stocks gained amid hopes a continued rise in interest rates will boost profits.
HSBC was up 0.6%, or 3p, to 495.7p, Standard Chartered rose 1.4%, or 7.4p, to 554.4p and Lloyds Banking Group jumped 0.6%, or 0.25p, to 42.59p.
NatWest and Barclays enjoyed gains in early trading but both closed down, the former by 0.2%, or 0.5p, to 203.6p and the latter by 1.6%, or 2.34p, to 143.64p.
1pm: Macfarlane’s solid start
Stuart Paterson, chair of packaging company Macfarlane Group told shareholders the company had made a solid start to 2022, with first quarter sales and profits from continuing operations ahead of the same period in 2021. expectations for the full year are unchanged.
“We have consistently demonstrated our ability to address the challenges in the market and we are confident that the effectiveness of our strategy, the quality of our people and the resilience of our business model will ensure 2022 will be another year of growth for Macfarlane,” he said at the AGM.
9.30am: London opens higher
The FTSE 100 was trading 52 points higher at 7,268.77, recovering from heavy losses in the previous session and the continued fall-out on Wall Street.
The DAX in Frankfurt and the CAC in Paris are up by more than 1% as technology, which was hit hardest yesterday, leads the gains.
However, weak economic data prevails. A survey shows UK retail sales fell in April as the mounting cost of living crisis started to bite.
According to the latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, like-for-like sales fell 1.7% in the four weeks to 30 April compared to the same period a year previously, when they increased 39.6%. On a total basis, sales decreased 0.3%. It was the first decline in sales for over a year.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: “The rising cost of living has crushed consumer confidence and put the brakes on consumer spending. Sales growth has been slowing since January, though the real extent of this decline has been masked by rising inflation.”
In equity markets, British Gas owner Centrica gained after reporting a strong performance in the first four months of 2022 (see below).
7am: Centrica hires customer support staff
Energy supplier Centrica is investing more than £50m in 500 additional UK-based customer service roles in British Gas Energy, 1,000 engineering apprenticeships, and the British Gas Energy Support Fund which provides grants of up to £750 to help customers pay their energy bills.
The company said it has delivered strong operational performance in the first four months of 2022.
“Significant uncertainties remain over the balance of the year, including the impacts of weather, commodity prices movements, asset performance and the potential for increased bad debt charges given the current inflationary pressures in the UK,” it said.
7am: Heathrow loss-making
Heathrow Airport said it expects to remain loss-making this year, though it increased its 2022 passenger forecast by 16% to nearly 53 million, saying 5 million travellers passed through in April, driven by outbound holidaymakers.
The FTSE 100 index was expected to open up 35.22 points, or 0.5%, at 7,251.80 closing 171.36 points, or 2.3% lower at 7,216.58, dragged down by a bearish US market.
SPI Asset Management’s Stephen Innes said. “US equities are setting the tone as traders continue to price in recession risk via the S&P 500. And it is all getting compounded by the broad-based decline in commodity prices, including a 7% decline in oil prices, which is crushing the S&P energy sector much to the chagrin of the commodity super-cycle folks.”
In another rout on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 2%, the S&P 500 was 3.2% lower, and the Nasdaq Composite fell 4.1% as tech firms continued to feel the brunt of the sell-off.
Brent crude oil was quoted at $105.05 a barrel this morning in London, sfrom $107.50 late Monday.
Despite the Covid-induced grip on Chinese growth the Shanghai Composite was 1.2% higher but the Hang Seng index was down 1.4% as the Hong Kong market returned from a long weekend. The Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo was down 0.6%.