By Live Commentary
The FTSE 100 closed down 16.60 points at 7471.51. Among UK companies with reports and updates are Lookers, GSK and IWG. Read the Wednesday 24 August Business Live blog below.
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Just before close, the FTSE 100 was 0.17% down at 7,475.56.
Meanwhile, the FTSE 250 was 0.22% lower at 19,264.17.
Booming commodity prices helped global dividend payouts reach record highs and exceed pre-pandemic volumes last quarter, new data has revealed.
Shareholders received $544.8billion of dividends between April and the end of June, compared to a previous second-quarter peak of $509.1billion three years ago, according to the latest Janus Henderson Global Dividend Index.
The Government has launched a new £20million scheme to boost the number of charging points for electric car drivers who are without access to chargers at home.
The Local EV Infrastructure (LEVI) is the latest ploy by transport officials to increase the accelerate the availability of devices across the country as part of its wider electric vehicle push, promising that the initial pilot will deliver more than 1,000 new chargepoints in areas where they are needed most.
Wall Street’s main indexes have slipped lower in early US trading, as recent economic data fueled fears of a slowdown ahead of the Federal Reserve’s annual conference this week.
The Dow is hovering just below flat, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq are down roughly 0.1 per cent each.
The FTSE 100 is down 0.3 per cent in the final hour of London trading, while the FTSE 250 is down 0.2 per cent.
Embattled stationary bike seller Peloton has struck up a partnership with Amazon to claw back lost profits, after the pandemic darling fell out of favor with consumers over the past year with the loosening of COVID restrictions.
Peloton brass announced the deal that will see some of its fitness equipment sold on the online retailer effective immediately on Wednesday, causing the company’s share price to surge 17 percent before the opening bell.
Britain’s disappearing department stores could be given protected status as part of a review by Historic England.
The announcement from the heritage body comes amid widespread closures brought on in part by the coronavirus pandemic, economic upheaval and the shift by customers to online shopping.
Aveva Group shares rocketed on Wednesday after one of its largest shareholders confirmed it was weighing a buyout of the FTSE 100 industrial software firm.
Schneider Electric, which already owns 59 per cent of Aveva, according to MarketScreener, told investors it was considering a bid for the Cambridge-headquartered business.
Aveva Group shares were up 30.5 per cent to £28.60 in early afternoon trading, having fallen by roughly the same percentage over the last 12 months.
Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak will have to find an extra £23billion this year – and an eye-watering £90billion next year – if they want to match existing levels of Government support for households during the cost-of-living crisis, a leading think tank has found.
In a new report, the Institute for Government (IfG) has estimated the huge spending the next prime minister will have to oversee if they want to retain the generosity of existing help for hard-pressed Britons.
Asda is to remove best before dates from almost 250 fresh fruit and vegetable products as figures have shown that British shoppers throw away around £60 of food and drink every month.
The supermarket chain is leaving dates off produce including citrus fruits, potatoes, cauliflowers and carrots across all its UK stores from September 1.
Continued supply chain disruption and surging vehicle prices helped car dealership chain Lookers to report another robust set of half-year results.
The Altrincham-based company saw total sales grow by 3.7 per cent year-on-year to £2.2billion in the first six months of 2022, thanks to increased revenues from used cars and aftersales.
The government of Sardinia is offering grants of up to €15,000 (£12,700) as an incentive for those considering a move to the idyllic Italian island.
Officials have ringfenced £38 million for the initiative which aims to help entice people to rural areas of Italy and bolster commerce in small towns by affording homebuyers considerable financial aid.
Earlier this summer, Money Mail published an exposé of the devious tricks rebate firms use to extract cash from unassuming taxpayers.
These unregulated firms charge enormous fees for tax refunds customers can claim for free.
Scottish Power, one of the UK’s largest energy companies, has proposed a £100billion plan to freeze customers’ energy bills for two years amid soaring costs.
The scheme, understood to also be backed by British Gas owner Centrica and Octopus Energy, aims to create a multibillion-pound emergency funding package over the next decade for struggling families.
First-time buyers are struggling to buy a property by the seaside as house price rises on the coast outpace salary increases, new research has revealed.
The pandemic saw the appeal of coastal homes soar in popularity, with price tags to match – leaving first-time buyers’ salaries struggling to keep up.
Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, comments on the markets this morning:
Markets seem to have lost their momentum following the rally since mid-June. Investors have become nervous once again, with all eyes on Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell and what he says this coming Friday.
Investors are worried that the US central bank will continue to raise interest rates at a rapid pace, despite lower-than-expected inflation figures in July. If this happens, we could well see another leg down in global markets as the summer draws to a close.
Declines across European and Asian markets on Wednesday illustrated how investors were getting the jitters. The FTSE 100 fell 0.7%, dragged down by miners, insurers, banks and telecoms.
Last night, experts warned that the energy crisis could ‘shut down’ Britain this winter, leaving high streets devoid of pubs, shops and restaurants.
Nearly three-quarters of pub landlords say they have seen their utility bills double as they urged the Government to reduce VAT and business rates.
Critics fear this could be the death knell for many of Britain’s high streets.
Three members of Easyjet’s board are stepping down from their roles at a time when the airline faces turbulence due to strikes and airport staff shortages.
Easyjet told investors this morning that Julie Southern and Andreas Bierwirth will not seek re-election to the company’s board at the next annual general meeting, while Nick Leeder will step down on 30 September.
They will be replaced by Harald Eisenächer, Detlef Trefzger and Ryanne van der Eijk.
Eisenächer has held executive positions with Germany’s Lufthansa and travel firm Sabre Travel Network, while Trefzger and Eijk have experience in the transportation industry.
Eijk, who had worked with Netherlands-based KLM airlines for 20 years, will also become one of the board’s employee representative directors.
When local butcher Tom Murray closed his doors for the final time this month, it marked the end of an era.
T & P. A. Murray on Gloucester Road, Bristol — known as Murray’s to regulars — first opened in 1994. It was the latest in a long line of butchers to have occupied the premises since the 1800s.
London-listed stocks have inched lower this morning as investors await comments from central bank policymakers which could guide near-term monetary policy expectations.
The FTSE 100 is down for a third consecutive session, while the FTSE 250 is at its lowest in over a month.
Investors were on edge after business activity data on Tuesday signalled the global economy is increasingly at risk of sliding into recession. In Britain, a fall in factory output slowed private sector activity in August.
Focus is on the Kansas City Federal Reserve’s annual summit in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, later this week with the US central bank looking like it might avoid tipping the US economy into recession, but the outlook for Europe is far more worrying.
Among single stocks, HSBC has slipped 1 per cent after China’s Ping An Insurance Group defended its call to spin off HSBC’s Asia business, saying it cared about investment returns from its large stake but was not an activist investor.
It was a bromance that saw two of the tech world’s titans speak about each other in glowingly appreciative terms over the years.
Elon Musk once tweeted that Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey ‘has a good heart’. Dorsey for his part has described Tesla tycoon Musk as someone who ‘cares deeply about our world’.
One of the few economists who has been calling a recession in the eurozone and euro/dollar parity since March is Robin Brooks, economist at the prestigious IIF in the US.
Brooks warned back then that Germany, the region’s biggest economy, would be badly walloped because Russia’s war on Ukraine would prove such a body blow.
Richard Hunter, head of markets at interactive investor:
‘With investors for the most part sitting on their hands ahead of the imminent Jackson Hole symposium, markets failed to make much progress.
‘Comments from a Federal Reserve official underscored the likelihood that the central bank will not be diverted from its aggressive tightening policy before inflation comes down to a more manageable level. The changing narrative among investors is that even if the Fed succeeds in engineering a soft landing for the US economy, rates could remain at elevated levels for longer, and until such time as the battle with inflation has been beaten beyond a doubt.
‘In the meantime, some weaker economic news feeding through from manufacturing and economic surveys and new home sales were the latest data points potentially suggesting some slowing of the US economy as the rate rises undertaken so far begin to wash through. Even so, the expectation remains for a 0.75% hike in September as the Fed continues its determined march against higher prices.
‘The reset of expectations has put the skids under what had been something of a recovery rally for the major indices, which remain well short of their opening 2022 levels. In the year to date, the Dow Jones is down by 9%, the S&P500 by 13% and the Nasdaq by 21%.
‘Asian markets were also unable to shake off the general air of malaise amid a faltering Chinese economy which is battling with lockdown restrictions, a struggling property market and lower consumer confidence. Despite some signs that the central bank stands poised to lend some assistance to the property sector in particular, doubts remain whether the measures shown so far are anywhere near sufficient.
‘From a global perspective, these are testing times for investors and consumers alike. For the latter, higher borrowing as well as living costs are battering sentiment, with the growing risks of recession in many developed companies further darkening the outlook.
‘The pressure will also remain heavy at the corporate level, where despite the resilience which many companies have shown during the recent quarterly reporting season, expectations remain that earnings expectations will need to be revised down as general pricing pressures remain.’
Co-op has appointed its first female chief executive in its 159-year history.
The mutual, which runs supermarkets, funeral homes and insurance and legal services, said Shirine Khoury-Haq has taken the top job permanently. She took over from Steve Murrells in March on an interim basis when he surprisingly left after ten years. Khoury-Haq joined Co-op in 2019 as its finance boss and head of its life services arm.
She is also a non-executive director of housebuilder Persimmon and has held positions at the Post Office and McDonald’s. She was paid £836,000 in 2021, including her £650,000 salary.
IWG has appointed Charlie Steel as its next chief financial officer, joining the office rental firm’s board before the end of this year.
The move comes weeks after the group’s first-half results failed to impress the market amid concerns of a gloomy economic outlook hampering the recovery of the office space sector.
Steel joins IWG from US-listed digital health delivery and AI diagnosis business Babylon Holdings, and has worked as global head of corporate development at CMC Markets and served as vice president in the investment banking division at Deutsche Bank AG.
Patrick Drahi will be allowed to keep his 18 per cent stake in BT after a government review concluded the investment did not pose a national security risk.
The 59-year-old billionaire initially snapped up a 12.1 per cent stake in the telecoms group in June last year through his vehicle Altice before increasing his holding to 18 per cent in December. The purchase made him BT’s largest shareholder.
The move attracted the attention of Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, who in May said he would ‘call in’ the stake-building for review under the National Security and Investment (NSI) Act, which allows the Government to scrutinise or even block deals it considers a potential threat to national security.
Mulberry chairman Godfrey Davis will leave the board after 35 years and become ‘life president’.
Davis, 73, joined the luxury handbag maker in 1987 as finance director before becoming its chief executive in 2002.
He has been Mulberry’s chairman for ten years, working with current chief executive Thierry Andretta since 2015. Andretta said Davis provided ‘sound counsel, direction and support’ to him and the board and said his contribution to the company was ‘outstanding’.
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