Markets slump on rate fear | Currys pulls dividend
Stock markets fell sharply as investors reacted negatively to the prospect of forthcoming rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve as well as the latest American employment data. The FTSE 100 closed down 2.17% at 7,280.50.
IG chief market analyst Chris Beauchamp, said: “Commodity prices are down as the dollar strengthens, but it is the wave of expectations that UK interest rates will go even higher than previously thought that has really done the damage.
“While the calls for rates to hit 7% seem a little overeager, they do have further to go, diminishing the already limited-appeal of the FTSE 100 for income hunters.”
Miners were amongst the day’s biggest fallers helping London’s blue-chip index sink to levels not seen since the banking sell-off in March.
A key survey revealed a significant dip in construction activity across the UK for June, marking a turn in fortunes for an industry that had mostly been expanding over the past five months.
Construction companies reported a dramatic decline in new orders, the first drop since the beginning of the year.
Wall Street stocks closed lower, with the S&P 500 falling 0.8%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average by 1.1% and the Nasdaq Composite 0.8%.
Shares in electricals and domestic appliances chain Currys fell 9.67% after it withdrew its final dividend, citing an uncertain outlook. It reported lower profits hit by a poor performance in its Nordics business.
The retailer said its markets had “been tough everywhere, with depressed demand, high inflation and unforgiving competition”.
Adjusted pre-tax profit for the year to 29 April 2023 came in at £119 million which was at the top end of guidance but down from £192m in the previous year.
On a statutory basis, the group swung into the red with a pre-tax loss of £450m compared to a £126m profit, reflecting a £511m non-cash impairment of goodwill arising out of the Dixons Carphone merger in 2014.
Revenue fell 6% to £9.51bn from £10.14bn.
Chief executive Alex Baldock said: “We’ve had a very mixed year. Our strengthening UK&I performance shows our strategy is working well. But our long track record of success in the Nordics was brought to an abrupt halt.”
Global recruitment firm Robert Walters said UK activity levels impacted by lay-offs across the technology sector and financial services volatility. Legal recruitment remained relatively robust.
Toby Fowlston, chief executive, said candidate confidence and time to hire are not yet showing the anticipated signs of sustained improvement.
“Structural recruitment market fundamentals including job vacancy levels, salary inflation and candidate shortages are still holding strong which continues to suggest that when market confidence recovers there will likely be an increase in demand and candidate movement across all areas of recruitment,” he said in a trading update.
“The group has a strong and experienced senior management team with a successful track record of navigating challenging macro-economic conditions and balancing short-term pressures with longer term growth.
“We have invested significantly in Group headcount and global infrastructure over the past two years and while we are taking a sensible approach to cost reduction, we intend to protect our strategic core to ensure we can move quickly to take advantage of opportunities when market confidence returns.”
Group net fee income for the quarter is down 10%.
The group will publish its half-year financial results for the period ended 30 June 2023 on 1 August 2023.
The airline said group profit before FX revaluation and tax for the year to the end of March rose to £390.8m from a £376.2m loss.
It flew 16.22m passengers compared with 4.85m in the same period last year.