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Crypto crash | Vodafone and Three merger talk | FTSE 100 sinks

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10pm: Wall Street lower

Wall Street stocks were mostly weaker at the close on Thursday, although they were off their earlier troughs, as inflation data continued to weigh on sentiment.

At the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.33% as the S&P 500 lost 0.13% and the Nasdaq Composite managed to stem the tech sell-off with a 0.06% gain.


5pm: Vodafone and Three merger rumour

Vodafone

Vodafone is said to be in talks to merge its UK operations with Three UK, which is owned by Hong Kong-based CK Hutchison Holdings, in the latest consolidation of the telecoms market.

The potential merger, reported by The Financial Times, would almost certainly face significant regulatory scrutiny – not least the fact that Three UK is owned by China-based CK Hutchison Holdings.

Both companies declined to comment on the matter, but the Reuters agency noted that the talks come amid pressure on Vodafone from Europe’s largest activist fund Cevian Capital to simplify its portfolio, enhance its strategy in key markets and boost returns.

In today’s stock markets, investors continued to sell equities as inflation and recessionary fears continued to gather. The FTSE 100 index closed lower, reversing much of the previous session’s triple-digit rally.

The UK blue-chip index closed 114.32 points, or 1.6% lower at 7,233.34, above the session low of 7,158.53 but well below the early peak of 7,347.66.

Retailer JD Sports Fashion ended the best performer, up 6.6%, after the athletic apparel retailer said sales grew in the early weeks of its financial year, shaking off supply chain pressures (see below).

BT closed up 1.1% after announcing a tie-up with Warner Bros Discovery and restoring its dividend.

Hargreaves Lansdown lost 6.7% after the fund supermarket posted a weaker performance for its year to date, with revenue and assets under administration experiencing a fall due to adverse market movements.

In New York, around London’s close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 0.8% lower, while the broader S&P 500 index shed 0.6%, and the tech-focused Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.1%.


1.30pm: Crypto currencies fall

Bitcoin

Digital currencies plunged in value this morning in a so-called ‘crypto winter’ that has lost investors billions and is fuelling fears of a wider stock market crash.

Bitcoin has crawled back from its low of $26,000 early today, but at just above $28,000 it is down 8% over 24 hours and 20% over the last five days.

The world’s second largest cryptocurrency Ethereum has joined the crash – plummeting in value by 20% over the last 24 hours.

Ethereum has now lost more than half of its value this year, Bitcoin has shed a third of its value since January and Luna with 98% of its value wiped out overnight.


7am: JD Sports in line

JD Sports in St James

JD Sports Fashion said total like for like sales grew more than 5% in the 14 weeks to 7 May against the same period in the prior year.

It said it expects the supply of certain key footwear styles to improve progressively through the year.

“Whilst we are pleased with the trading to date, which is at least in line with the Group’s expectations, we remain conscious of the headwinds that prevail at this time including the general global macro-economic and geopolitical situation,” it said.

“Notwithstanding these challenges, the Board still believe that the headline profit before tax and exceptional items for the year end 28 January 2023 will at least be equal to that for the year ended 29 January 2022 which… is now expected to be approximately £940 million.”


7am: Rolls-Royce unchanged

The aero engine maker said financial performance in the year-to-date has been in line with expectation and financial guidance for 2022 is unchanged.

“We are well positioned for the anticipated growth in our end markets and continue to expect positive momentum in our financial performance in 2022 despite the ongoing risks around macroeconomic uncertainties,” said outgoing CEO Warren East.



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