Markets: Live

Centrica gains despite warm weather | National Grid | WH Smith


2pm: US inflation calms

US headline CPI inflation rose 7.7% year-on-year in October (consensus: 7.9%), compared to 8.2% in September. On a monthly basis CPI rose 0.4% (consensus: 0.6%) compared to a 0.4% rise last month.

Rob Clarry, Investment Strategist at Evelyn Partners, said: “After a year in which inflation has consistently surprised to the upside, today’s CPI report finally brought some good news.

“October’s inflation print surprised to the downside, with both the annual and monthly figures weaker than expected. The 0.3% increase in core inflation was the softest reading since September 2021.

“The immediate market reaction to today’s CPI print was positive. S&P500 futures spiked +2.5% as investors hope that this will be the start of a continued deceleration in headline inflation.

“This does not change our view that the Fed will continue to stay the course with its plans for tighter monetary policy in the coming months. However, we do expect smaller rate hikes following four consecutive 75 bps hikes.”

9.30am: Centrica

British Gas owner Centrica said it expects operating profit in its retail division to be lower than expectations because of warmer than normal weather in October. Full story here

7am: National Grid

National Grid is investing a further £40 billion in critical infrastructure over the next four years of which £29 billion will be directly in the decarbonisation of energy networks after spending a record £3.9bn in the half year.

It has achieved £225 million of operating cost efficiency savings to date, enabling the company to mitigate some inflationary pressures on both the business and customers. It has also announced funding to help its most vulnerable customers and communities through this winter and next.

Underlying profit before tax for the half year to 30 September was 47% higher at £1.45 billion. The board declared an interim dividend 17.84p per share in line with policy (17.21p per share in the prior period).

7am: WH Smith

Stationery retailer and travel agent WH Smith swung to an annual profit as a rebound in air and rail travel boosted revenues, and it said the momentum has continued into the current fiscal year.

The company posted pre-tax earnings of £63m compared with a loss of £116m a year ago when Covid-19 travel restrictions were in place.

Global markets

A higher than expected US inflation reading, due today, could cause more problems for markets. However, it is expected to weaken to 8% in October from 8.2% in September, according to FXStreet cited consensus.

Stocks in Asia were lower. The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo fell 1% while the Shanghai Composite was down 0.4% in late trade, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong was 1.9% lower.

The pound was quoted at $1.1401 early Thursday, down from $1.1416 late Wednesday.

A barrel of Brent fell to $92.53 early on Thursday from $93.74 late Wednesday.

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