Markets: Live

Record high for FTSE 100 | Openreach pricing cleared


5pm: London higher

The FTSE 100 closed 81.64 points up at a new all-time high of 7,901.80 against the 7,877.45 level it hit on 22 May 2018. Today’s intra-day peak was 7,906.58.

It was boosted by companies with dollar-earnings constituents as the US currency got a boost from a much stronger-than-expected January payrolls report which heightened expectations the Federal Reserve will remain hawkish on interest rates.

7am: Openreach pricing ‘not anti-competitive’

Telecoms regulator Ofcom said its initial assessment of Openreach’s full-fibre pricing plans indicates they are not anti-competitive.

But it has launched a consultation on the new wholesale pricing arrangements known as Equinox 2 that Openreach intends to introduce from 1 April.

In a statement, Ofcom said: “Our provisional view is that we should not intervene to prevent Openreach from introducing Equinox 2.

“We consider the offer is not anti-competitive and is consistent with the rules we consulted on before introducing them under our market review in 2021.”

“In our provisional view, the proposed offer is consistent with our primary strategic goal of promoting investment in high-speed networks to deliver fast, affordable broadband to people and business across the UK.”

Ofcom said it was now inviting responses to the consultation by the close of business on 4 March 2023 with a final decision expected before the end of March 2023.

Mark Shurmer, managing director of regulatory affairs at Openreach said: “We share Ofcom’s initial view that our new full fibre offer isn’t anti-competitive.

“Our customers wanted sharper pricing to help them upgrade their customers to faster, more reliable broadband connections, so this is good news for UK consumers and businesses. It also supports our continued multi-billion pound investment to upgrade the UK’s broadband infrastructure.”

7am: Scottish retail footfall remains down on pre-pandemic

Retailers said Scottish footfall increased by 12.2% in January (YoY), marginally lower than the UK average decrease of 12.5%, though January 2022 was still affected by some lockdown measures.

Compared to pre-pandemic 2019 levels, total Scottish footfall fell by 6.8%. Shopping centres fell by 17.5%, while footfall in Edinburgh was down by 2.9% and in Glasgow by 2.4%.

SRC director David Lonsdale said: “Despite the improvement, shopper footfall remains seven percent down on pre-pandemic levels.

“While the uptick provides retailers with a fresh flicker of hope that Scots are rediscovering the pleasure of in-person shopping, the continuing cost-of-living squeeze could bear down on discretionary spending in the months ahead.”

Apple shares fall

Decling iPhone sales saw Apple miss first quarter revenue and earnings expectations, resulting in a fall in its shares in after-market trading.

iPhone revenue for the three months to the end of December came in at $65.7 billion, below the expected $68.3bn and a sharp decline from $71.6bn posted in 1Q 2020.

Revenue came in at $117.1bn, below Wall Street’s expectations of $121.1bn and down from the $123.9bn posted in the corresponding quarter last time.

Adjusted earnings per share fell from $2.10 in 1Q 2022 to $1.88 in the quarter, below the expected $1.94.

Amazon disappoints

Amazon stock fell in late trading after it reported mixed results for the fourth quarter, with higher-than-expected sales through the company’s e-commerce services and cloud-computing business, but weaker-than-anticipated profits.

The company posted sales of $149.2 billion, up 9% from $137.41 billion a year earlier, beating Wall Street expectations. 

However, revenue at Amazon Web Services (AWS) fell short of expectations.

Amazon said sales in the current quarter should reach between $121 billion to $126 billion, matching expectations.

Shares fell 4.8% to $107.50 in late trading.

Google short of expectations

Google and Youtube parent Alphabet last night posted fourth-quarter profit and sales short of Wall Street expectations as Google’s advertising clients pulled back spending.

Executives promised investors an extended period of cost control, particularly on hiring, property and experimental projects that can take years to reach fruition.

Shares in Alphabet already lost 40% in 2022 and fell nearly 5% in after-hours trading.

“We are committed to investing responsibly with great discipline and defining areas where we can operate more cost- effectively,” chief executive Sundar Pichai told analysts on a call to discuss the company’s results.

The company’s net income fell to $13.62bn from $20.64bn a year earlier, the sharpest decline for Alphabet in four quarters.

Adjusted profit of $1.05 per share fell short of an expected $1.18 per share, according to Refinitiv.

Revenue from Google advertising, which includes Search and YouTube, fell 3.6% to $59.04bn.

Total revenue rose 1% to $76.05bn, its slowest ever growth, with the exception of a small decline in the second quarter of 2020. Analysts were expecting $76.53bn.

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