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Abrdn notes Bruce reports | car output rises | Plexus ‘confident’

Stephanie Bruce


12.30pm: London closes higher

The FTSE 100 managed to remain in positive territory at the close, to end the shortened session 3.73 points higher at 7,473.01, off its intra-day high of 7496.4.

Oil prices were heading for a second weekly gain as Russia said it may cut crude production in response to the G7 price cap on its exports.

11.30am: closes, the online retail business launched in Edinburgh by tyres tycoon Mike Welch and backed by former Tesco chief Sir Terry Leahy, has closed. Full story here

10am: Hurricane Energy board call

An activist shareholder in oil and gas company Hurricane Energy has demanded a general meeting to remove the chairman and other directors. Full story here

9am: Abrdn CFO

Asset manager Abrdn issued a brief statement stating that Stephanie Bruce remains in post as CFO and “no decisions” have been taken regarding a change. However, it did not deny media reports that she would be leaving the Edinburgh company.

It said it “notes yesterday’s press comment regarding succession planning for our Chief Financial Officer.

“The board regularly reviews succession planning with and for the executive team. Stephanie Bruce remains our Chief Financial Officer and no decisions have been taken regarding any change while succession planning is underway.”

8.30am: Stocks flat

The FTSE 100 was trading 5 points higher at 7,474.70 in the early minutes of the shortened session.

Edinburgh-based oil and gas explorer Capricorn Energy, subject to investor disapproval over its merger plans, was up 3.1% to its highest level in four years.

The London Stock Exchange will close at 12.30pm.

8am: Musk’s Tesla shares promise

Elon Musk said he is unlikely to sell any more Tesla shares for two years, having offloaded $40bn (£33.2bn) of stock in the electric vehicle maker over the last 12 months.

Musk offloaded stock in the car company to help fund his £35bn takeover of Twitter, but Tesla’s share price has fallen by 70%.

During a Twitter spaces session, he said: “I won’t sell stock until – I don’t know – probably two years from now, definitely not next year under any circumstances, and probably not the year thereafter.”

7.30am: Car production

UK car production rose in November on the corresponding month last year, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

It said 80,091 vehicles were manufactured, a 5.7% increase on the previous year.

However, exports fell by 5% as the outlook for the global economy, global chip shortages and a stronger pound impacted sales.

UK plants have produced 723,846 cars this year, down 9.2%.

SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said: “Supply chain shortages, overseas lockdowns and some structural and product changes have combined to throttle output for much of 2022 but there is renewed hope these issues will begin to ease in 2023.”

The production of battery electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid vehicles rose 18.3% with combined volumes of 29,318 units, representing more than a third of total output in November. The production in this combined segment is up 2.9% in the first 11 months on the same period in 2021.

7am: Nucleus close to Curtis Banks deal

Nucleus Financial Platforms has completed its due diligence on Curtis Banks and the parties are close to agreeing a deal, according to a statement issued by Curtis.

Full story here

7am: Plexus confident

Graham Stevens will chair today’s AGM of Aberdeen-based oil and gas engineering services business Plexus and will say the AIM-quoted firm is looking ahead with confidence.

He said it is hopeful of converting a number of expressions of interest in its portfolio of products into contracts.

“We believe that our tenacity is finally beginning to pay dividends with Plexus’ wellhead sealing technology increasingly being recognised as an ESG-enabling opportunity,” he said in a pre-meeting statement.

“During the year, the number of enquiries regarding our portfolio of Plexus products that can guarantee leak-free performance for the life of a well has escalated and we are hopeful of converting these into contracts in the coming months.

“In summary, having raised £1.55m through the issue of convertible loan notes in October 2022, which was supported by the company’s founder and CEO Ben van Bilderbeek, and Plexus’ chairman, Jeff Thrall, Plexus is better positioned to play a key role across numerous aspects of the complex energy story as it unfolds, and we look forward to 2023 with growing confidence.”

Global markets

A new estimate of third-quarter GDP figures showed the US economy grew 3.2% over the period, up from previous estimates of 2.9%.

Separate figures from the Labor Department showed the number of Americans filing for state unemployment benefits stood at 216,000 last week, well below forecasts of 222,000.

The news prompted renewed fears of further interest rate rises, forcing US stocks to fall.

Losses were led by the tech-heavy Nasdaq, which slumped 2.8% as major Silicon Valley stocks including Apple, Microsoft and Amazon all slid into the red.

The benchmark S&P 500 tumbled 1.8%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.4%.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index closed down 1.0% as prices in Japan rose at their fastest pace since 1981 in November, fuelled in part by higher energy costs.

In China, the Shanghai Composite was down 0.6%, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was down 0.6%. 

Sterling was quoted at $1.2037 early today against $1.2028 at the London equities close on Thursday.

Brent oil was trading at $81.67 a barrel early Friday, lower than $82.69 late Thursday

Last night’s close

Early gains on the London stock market were reversed as US markets fell back following disappointing results from Micron and as investor worries about rising interest rates re-surfaced on the back of strong US GDP numbers.

Pub companies, J D Wetherspoon and Mitchells and Butler fell back on reports of weak trading in pubs and restaurants amid industrial action on the railways.

Retailer Superdry was a stand-out gainer on news of strong trading and a new loan facility which sent shares higher.

The FTSE 100 closed down 28.04 points at 7,469.28.

Britain’s economy contracted by a little more than first estimated in the third quarter of this year, and business investment performed poorly, according to official data.

Full report here

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