FTSE 100 Live: London blue-chip index closes up 1.7% amid easing food inflation, Asia recovery

 (Evening Standard)
(Evening Standard)

London shares today resumed trading with the benefit of a strong handover from overseas markets.

China’s stamp duty cut on stock trades and Wall Street’s calm reaction to Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell’s speech on Friday have aided stock market sentiment.

In London, FTSE 100-listed outsourcing group Bunzl and the Irish hotels group Dalata have posted results.

FTSE 100 Live Tuesday

  • Markets cheered by China support

  • Bunzl boosts 2023 profit forecast

  • Price rises slowest in nearly a year

Refinitiv name to be scrapped in fresh LSEG rebrand

20:21 , Daniel O'Boyle

Two years on from its $27 billion acquisition of Refinitiv, the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) is poised to scrap the now-familar name and logo from its financial data products in a fresh rebrand.

The firm’s Refinitiv Workspace software, used across Square Mile dealing rooms and trading floors, has been renamed LSEG Workspace. Its Eikon data platform will be scrapped and users migrated to Workspace by the end of 2024.

In a statement on its website, LSEG said: “We are retiring the Refinitiv brand and in the coming months you will see this change reflected across our product interfaces, website, marketing materials and social media channels.

“This brand change will give you an enhanced and simplified experience.  There will be no actions for customers, everything will remain the same aside from branding changes.”

Read more here

FTSE closes at 7,464.99

16:43 , Daniel O'Boyle

The FTSE 100 closed up 1.7% at 7,464.99, in a day of big gains.

The index was up by 100 points in early trading and continued to rise in the afternoon.

Top risers included Persimmon, Ocado and DS Smith. There were only two fallers, B&M and Haleon.

Starmer or Sunak? Rupert Murdoch might just sit this one out

15:46 , Daniel O'Boyle

The jostling is well under way.

There’s a general election coming and both main parties are desperately trying to impress media owners and editors.

Word spread quickly around Westminster that Sir Keir Starmer was clearly in the ascendant by being invited to sit with Rupert Murdoch on his sofa at the mogul’s midsummer party. Seriously.

To be fair, other senior political figures also had a spell with the 92-year old magnate at the Spencer House bash, but it was Starmer, wearing an eyebrow-raising open-necked black shirt number, who set tongues wagging.

Whether the Labour leader did enough to convince the News Corporation tycoon that he and his party are deserving of endorsement by the group’s newspapers and channels come the ballot, remains to be seen.

Read more here

HSBC offers its first 40-year mortgage deals

15:37 , Daniel O'Boyle

HSBC is to introduce a ‘marathon’ 40-year mortgage tomorrow, hoping to attract customers who might struggle to meet the monthly payments for a normal offer, and who are willing to be tied down to an extra-long deal.

The 40-year term will be offered for both residential and buy-to-let mortgages. Initially it will be available via brokers, before becoming available direct from HSBC on 13 September.

Andrew Matson, Head of Mortgages at HSBC UK said the deal would get more people on the housing market: “We know that home ownership is a key life ambition for many people, but affordability can be an issue. We are delighted to introduce our first ever 40-year mortgage term to our customers. This move underscores our commitment to supporting aspiring homeowners in their journey onto the housing ladder.

“By extending the mortgage term we aim to help make mortgages more manageable with lower monthly repayments and homeownership a reality for our customers.”

Read more here

US futures steady

14:19 , Daniel O'Boyle

US futures are steady today, all dipping by about 0.1%, after big gains in Europe this morning.

Dow Jones futures are down 43 points to 34,552.00, while S&P 500 futures are down jjust three points to 4,439.25. Nasdaq futures lost 19.5 points, at 15,073.00. Best Buy and Verizon are among the big risers.

The steady trading comes in a week where a number of key pieces of data will be released, including consumer confidence later today, as well as employment growth and August payrolls.

Scrapping EU-era protections on nutrient neutrality ‘will boost housebuilding’

13:53 , Daniel O'Boyle

Scrapping EU-era environmental protections on nutrient neutrality will allow for an additional 100,000 homes to be built in England by 2030, the Government has said.

Environmental campaigners have criticised the planned change, but the Government says housing developments contribute only a small fraction of nutrient pollution and new funding is being provided to mitigate any associated increase.

The changes will see the financial burden to mitigate nutrient pollution for new housing shifted from developers to taxpayers.

The Government says it intends to work with the housebuilding industry to ensure that larger developers make what it describes as an appropriate and fair contribution to the scheme over the coming years.

Read more here

Wilko job cuts ‘suspended’ after union calls for urgent government talks

13:21 , Daniel O'Boyle

GMB Union, which represents a third of Wilko staff, says that job cuts will be ‘suspended’ while administrators consider “multiple” bids, hours after the labour organisation wrote to Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch claiming that bidders which aimed to save jobs had “difficulties” engaging with administrators at PwC.

“All redundancies at Wilko have been suspended while the administrator considers further bids,” GMB boss Andy Prendergast said.

“Whilst this is a positive development, Wilko is not out of the woods by any means and this is a time of incredible stress and worry for the 12,500 workers who face losing their jobs.”

Read more here

City Comment: Reports of Stock Market’s death are exaggerated

13:08 , Simon English

The London Stock Exchange has been at the heart of the City since 1801. Pessimists have been predicting its demise since roughly then.

As a location, it has an awful lot going for it that isn’t easy for supposed rivals to replicate. And as our table here today shows, the competition is going to come from Asian markets, not European.

Even in this year of supposed famine for share listing, London raised nearly as much as Amsterdam and Frankfurt combined.

This isn’t to say there aren’t issues. Capital markets are slow, but that’s a global slowdown. Inflation, China and interest rates have been also been on investors’ minds.

Read more here

Cautious optimism on interest rates

12:29 , Daniel O'Boyle

Interest rate expectations eased mildly today following the release of statistics suggesting lower food price inflation.

Samuel Mather-Holgate, independent financial advisor at Mather & Murray Financial, said the decline was good news, but wouldn’t be a major factor in the Bank of England’s decisions going forward. Markets see interest rates peaking at either 5.75% or 6%, a slightly lower peak than on Friday when 6% was seen as more likely.

“Shop price inflation falling is positive news for those wanting lower rates, although not the main measure the central bank uses when formulating its strategy. Food has been a larger driver of inflation and seeing the fall in this area should translate into further wider inflation falls when the next data set is released. Lower rates are generally good news for the stock market, as the cost to borrow to invest is lower. Tuesday’s pop in the FTSE is more of a catch-up session following other European bourses gaining ground yesterday when the FTSE was closed for the Bank Holiday.

Exclusive: London Stock Exchange boss says doomsters are wrong and the City will thrive

11:47 , Daniel O'Boyle

London Stock Exchange Group boss David Schwimmer today hit back against the pessimists talking down the City, insisting it will continue to fend off rivals and remain the premier financial centre in Europe.

With the FTSE 100 drifting and few new flotations lately — ARM just chose New York to list in search of a better valuations — banks and brokers have been starved of business. The LSEG is also under pressure over a new Intermittent Trading Venue (ITV) which critics stay stifles innovation and favours the incumbent’s monopoly position.

Talking to the Standard, Schwimmer points out that London remains the most active in Europe — this year alone it has raised 75% more than capital than its next largest rival, Amsterdam.

Read more here

Wilko union boss calls for ‘urgent’ Government talks as job cuts loom

11:21 , Daniel O'Boyle

The head of the GMB Union, which represents a third of Wilko staff, has written to Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch, claiming that bidders which aimed to save jobs have had “difficulties” engaging with administrators at PwC.

The GMB Union revealed last week that the majority of Wilko staff appear set to lose their jobs, some as soon as next week, after a major bidder dropped out. Some shops are still expected to be saved by smaller bidders, but it now appears that the most likely scenario involves most of Wilko’s 400 shops closing.

However, the GMB said today that other groups have come forward and said they were interested in saving a large portion of Wilko, but had trouble dealing with PwC.

Read more here

FTSE 100 rallies as global sentiment improves, Persimmon up 3%

10:26 , Graeme Evans

London traders were today buoyed by events in China as the FTSE 100 index peaked at 7470 before settling 99.76 points higher at 7438.34.

China’s latest package of support measures was one of the biggest factors helping to improve sentiment after an otherwise dismal August for stock markets.

Beijing announced the first cut in stamp duty on stock trades for 15 years, with the country’s central bank also easing various residential property rules.

The Shanghai Composite closed today’s session 1% higher and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index maintained its recent recovery with a 2% rise.

UBS Global Wealth Management said: “If policy measures continue to be unveiled in the coming weeks, the market narrative may shift from “too little, too late” to a more confident stance as policymakers regain credibility.”

The handover led to a broad-based rally for London stocks on the first day back after the long weekend. Ocado was the top performer in the FTSE 100 after improving 4% or 27.8p to 769.6p, while Hong Kong-based insurer Prudential added 32.6p to 979.4p ahead of tomorrow’s interim results.

Housebuilder Persimmon rallied 3% or 35.5p to 1022.5p but this gain may have come too late to prevent FTSE 100 relegation when the quarterly reshuffle is calculated tonight.

Contenders for promotion include Marks & Spencer, which added half a penny at 217.5p, and the seals and controls business Diploma as it looks to complete a rise from the ranks of small caps to blue-chip status. It rose 37p to 3155p in today’s session.

The FTSE 250 index added 212.12 points to 18,343.14, with the China developments boosting Aston Martin Lagonda after a surge of 13.4p to 351.4p.

On AIM, Virgin Wines rose 2.5p to 47p after its chief executive Jay Wright spent £120,000 topping up his stake in the online retailer to 8.8%. He was joined by chair John Risman, who now holds 2.9% after spending £50,000.

Fresh food prices help retail inflation to slow in August, new figures suggest

10:12 , Daniel O'Boyle

Price rises in British shops have slowed to their lowest rate since October last year, but keep going up significantly, new data has shown.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) reported on Tuesday that prices rose 6.9% in the year to August, down from 8.4% in July.

It does not mean that things are getting cheaper, just that they increased in price more slowly between September 2022 and August 2023 than they did between August 2022 and July 2023.

The BRC showed that the main reason that retail inflation dropped was because fresh food prices rose less rapidly.

Read more here

Wilko administrators defend record amid union criticism

09:22 , Daniel O'Boyle

The administrators of Wilko defended their work after reports today that the GMB Union was seeking an ‘urgent’ meeting with Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch. The union has criticised the administrators for not fully considering all bids, but the administrators at PwC said they were “working relentlessly” to save the business, while also following their deuty to secure a return to shareholders.

A spokesperson for the administrators said: “Since our appointment as administrators of Wilko we have worked relentlessly to secure a sale of the business, and talks are continuing with a number of parties. As administrators we’re intent on achieving the best outcome for everyone involved while preserving as many jobs as possible and adhering to our statutory duty to act in the best interests of the creditors as a whole.

“It would be inappropriate to comment on individual bidders or interested parties at this stage in the process.”

Market snapshot as FTSE 100 gains almost 100 points

08:29 , Daniel O'Boyle

Take a look at today’s market snapshot as the FTSE 100 is more than 1% higher this morning.

FTSE 100 up more than 1%, JD Sports Fashion 3% higher

08:23 , Graeme Evans

The FTSE 100 index is 1.2% higher during a better-than-expected start to the week for London shares.

The jump of 96.40 points to 7434.98 follows gains of 3% for shares in Hong Kong-based insurer Prudential as well as JD Sports Fashion and Anglo American.

Shares in outsourcing group Bunzl lead the top flight, up 4% or 119p to 2843p following a strong reaction to half-year results.

The positive mood was also seen in the FTSE 250 index, which rallied 262.33 points to 18,393.35. Mid-cap risers included Aston Martin Lagonda, with shares up another 5% or 16.4p to 354.4p.

Binance sets up shop in Poland after Belgium snub

08:12 , Simon Hunt

Crypto exchange Binance has opened for business in Poland after it was told to cease offering virtual currency services by regulators in Belgium.

Binance said the move will allow it to comply "with its regulatory obligations and can continue to provide services to Belgian users".

The firm also had to suspend services to Dutch users in July and is facing a lawsuit by regulators in the US amid a global crackdown on crypto companies.


Bunzl boosts 2023 profit forecast as half-year revenue rises

08:03 , Michael Hunter

Bunzl, the coffee cup to Covid mask supplier, reported a rise in half-year profits today and upped its forecasts for 2023, after it was able to pass price increases on to its customers.

The FTSE 100 company filed a 7% rise in half year profit of £317 million and said it now expects full-year adjusted operating profit to rise. The upbeat outlook came despite weakness in the food service sector in North America.

Revenue rose 4.5% to £5.9 billion.

It also said sales of pandemic-related products held above 2019 levels, but were off their 2020 peak.

Its shares opened up 111p to 2829p.

London helps drive growth for Irish hotels group Dalata

07:31 , Daniel O'Boyle

Irish hotel group Dalata says its growing London portfolio drove its UK growth in the second quarter, growing twice as fast as the rest of UK

The owner of the Clayton and Maldron chains saw 23% growth in like-for-like revenue per available room in London, compared to 12% elsewhere in the UK. The group said this was driven both by higher occupancy and higher room rates.

Dalata has been expanding in London lately, and is set to have 876 rooms in the capital when the Maldron Hotel in Shoreditch opens.

That helped group profit rise by 24% to €103.4 million (£88.6 million).

CEO Dermot Crowley said: “Our performance year to date has been exceptional, thanks to all of our teams throughout the business, whose commitment and dedication are evident in the results announced today and in the continuous delivery of our ambitious growth strategy.

“We have continued to expand our asset portfolio with the two recent high-quality acquisitions in London which are both performing well.

“This speaks to the strength of our balance sheet and our development team’s ability to identify and deliver additional rooms in times of market volatility and uncertainty.”

Daslata is the latest hotel chain to report booming business, with little sign of the public cutting back spending on travel even as they reduce spend almost everywhere else.

IG boss to quit when medical leave ends

07:20 , Daniel O'Boyle

IG Group CEO June Felix, currently on medical leave, will step down from the role rather than returning to the helm of the online trading business.

She took medical leave in June, but will now step down as CEO and director immediately and cease employment from 29 September.

Charlie Roses will continue as acting CEO, but IG said it has begun a search for a permanent replacement.

Mike McTighe, chair of IG Group, commented: “On behalf of the Board, I would like to extend our best wishes to June as she continues her recovery. We thank her for the significant contribution she has made over the past eight years as a board member and especially as Group CEO for almost five years. During her tenure as CEO the company has successfully pursued a strategy to diversify the business while at the same time strengthening its core OTC business resulting in a doubling of the Group’s revenue and profit over the period.”

June Felix said: “It has been a great privilege to build and lead such a talented, ambitious group of people as the CEO of IG Group for nearly five years. It has been through everyone’s collective effort that we have built a stronger, more diverse company. For this, I thank my executive team, all of my colleagues and the Board of IG Group for an unforgettable period.”

Asia and US markets rally, FTSE 100 seen slightly higher

07:15 , Graeme Evans

Asia markets extended their gains this morning after support measures including a stamp duty cut on stock trades were announced by regulators in China over the weekend.

The moves have helped to draw investors back to the market, with the Hang Seng in Hong Kong up another 2% and the Shanghai Composite ahead by more than 1%. Japan’s Nikkei 225 was also in positive territory at a two-week high.

Wall Street closed higher for the second successive session after Friday’s guidance from Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell that further tightening of monetary policy will be a finely balanced decision.

He said inflation remains too high but that policymakers will need to tread carefully in order to avoid causing unnecessary harm to the US economy.

The Nasdaq Composite finished Monday’s session up by 0.8% and the S&P 500 index rose 0.6%. London’s FTSE 100 index is forecast by IG Index to start the week five points higher at 7344.

Recap: Friday’s top stories

06:53 , Simon Hunt

Good morning. Here’s a summary of our top headlines from Friday:

  • Equinox plunges to £18m loss and a spate of central London fitness clubs warn on going concern status in signs luxury gyms under threat as customers trade down

  • Ofgem price cap to cut bills into the first winter without government support for energy consumers since the Ukraine invasion

  • London fintech LendInvest warned it has suffered a data breach in which customer personal data had been accessible to third parties

  • Lord Cruddas firm CMC profit warning - “August in particular has seen a more challenging environment with markedly lower monetisation of client trading activity”. Profit could be £30m less than previously thought

  • H&M to re-open stores in Ukraine, the group says it is “in close contact with local stakeholders” and will “gradually” bring the chain back “wherever possible”

  • Profits fall at law firm DWF ahead of takeover by private equity firm Inflexion. Boss says that without the Inflexion offer, the results would have put shareholders’ dividends at risk