Weekly review

Josh White WebFG News | 10 Nov, 2017 16:38 - Updated: 17:38 | | |

The FTSE 100 finished the week down 127.36 points, or 1.68%, at 7,432.99.

Equity view

Plumbing and heating products distributor Ferguson - formerly known as Wolseley - has agreed to sell its Nordics building materials distribution business, Stark Group, to an affiliate of private equity firm Lone Star Funds for €1.03bn on a debt-free and cash-free basis.

Galliford Try's council partnerships arm has benefited from "increased certainty" following recent government announcements and has a record order book, while housebuilding sales rates and the construction order book have remained unchanged since the year end.

Ultra Electronics said on Friday that a decision from the US Department of Justice about its proposed acquisition of NYSE-listed Sparton is now expected at the end of March 2018.

Developer and manager of student accommodation, Unite Group, has exchanged contracts to acquire a development site in Leeds on a subject to planning basis, it announced on Friday.

Europe-focussed bottling giant Coca-Cola HBC updated the market on its third quarter trading on Thursday, reporting “excellent” revenue performance, with foreign exchange-neutral revenue growth of 6.0%.

CLS Holdings has acquired Columbia Bracknell, a multi-let office property in Bracknell, Berkshire, for £14.7m excluding costs, it announced on Thursday.

Dairy Crest posted a rise in first-half revenue and profit thanks to good growth across its brands and despite challenges in the butters business.

Electricity transmission network operator National Grid reported “good progress” against its key priorities in its interim report on Thursday, with adjusted operating profit excluding timing up 4% to £1.4bn.

Workspace posted a jump in interim pre-tax profit and net rental income on Wednesday amid good customer demand.

Low-cost Hungarian airline Wizz Air said on Wednesday that it was lifting its profit outlook following record first-half results, with “robust” trading across all of the group’s markets.

Persimmon said demand for its properties remained strong in the third quarter as the housebuilder benefited from the government's Help to Buy programme.

Energy generator and retailer SSE performed in line with its recently-published expectations in its first half, it reported on Wednesday, with adjusted earnings per share falling 8.8% to 31.2p and adjusted operating profit falling 8% to £586.2m.

International sales, marketing and support services group DCC announced on Tuesday that its DCC LPG division has reached agreement with NGL Energy Partners to acquire its ‘Retail West’ LPG division, Hicksgas, based on an enterprise value of $200m (£152m).

Associated British Foods reported full-year better earnings than the market forecast after a "highly successful" year, with further progress expected in the coming 12 months, though investors felt slightly let down by the dividend.

Direct Line issued a mixed update for the first nine months of the year, in which it warned that the impairment charge in 2017 could exceed that incurred last year.

Tobacco volumes fell less than expected at Imperial Brands this year and the cigarette maker once again lifted its annual dividend 10% as currency tailwinds were not enough to puff earnings above consensus forecasts.

EasyJet passenger numbers rose 9.9% in October as the load factor ticked higher.

Wood Group has agreed to sell Amec Foster Wheeler’s North American nuclear operations to Kinectrics Inc for around CAD 10m in cash.

Plastics maker Synthomer said volumes of sales in the third quarter remained flat on last year and that it continued to hunt for acquisition opportunities.

Rio Tinto has appointed Simon Trott to the newly-created role of chief commercial officer as it reinforces its focus on driving value across the business from mine to market.

Economic news

Brexit negotiations have seen “some progress” in the latest round of talks, but according to chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier, the UK has only two weeks left to agree to a financial settlement.

UK construction activity is worsening, data from the Office for National Statistics showed on Friday.

Britain's property market is slowing as political and economic uncertainty take their toll on sales, buyer demand and prices, a closely watched survey has shown.

If Brexit negotiations totally break down, Britain's gross domestic product is likely to fall 2% in the year after due to significant increase in trade disruption even if the government is able to agree a basic trade arrangement.

Keith Anderson, chief corporate officer for Scottish Power, came for the UK government on Tuesday as he challenged ministers to choose whether or not they would back the free market or fully regulate the energy industry.

UK house prices rose more than expected in October, according to a survey released on Tuesday, making the third monthly rise in a row.

UK retailers endured a "meagre month" of sales in October, with non-food retailers having the worst sales for at least six years and trading expected to remain muted over the crucial Christmas period.

An influential group of MPs has launched an inquiry to determine whether British households are saving adequately in the current economic environment and how government policy could be changed to improve household finances.

Theresa May indicated to British businesses that the government is intent on arranging a post-Brexit transition period in order to avoid a “cliff edge” split from the European Union in 2019, while opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn stressed Labour had more "common ground" with business than was thought.

The UK car recession skidded on last month amid continued soft business and consumer confidence.

International events

US President Donald Trump has lashed out at unfair trading practices during a key speech at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam.

Consumer sentiment in the US is a little bit weaker at the start of month, although still at lofty levels, even as Americans and analysts ponder the prospect for rising official rates and try and anticipate their potential impact on spending.

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, according to data from the Labor Department.

The euro zone economy is expected to grow at its fastest rate in a decade this year, after European Commission forecasts were hiked on Thursday, while investment in UK seen weakening next year.

Both inbound and outbound trade from China cooled last month, but some economists are confident that any slowdown will be modest despite a loss of momentum in other emerging markets.

A general strike organised by independence supporters in Catalonia has left many of the region’s roads blocked, bringing much of its industry to a standstill as several local government officials remain in jail.

China's central bank appears to have reverted back to net foreign exchange purchases last month, but that does not mean it is seeking to weaken its currency artificially, analysts said following the release of the latest foreign exchange reserve data by the country's monetary authority.

Eurozone retail sales rose more than expected in September, according to data released by Eurostat on Tuesday.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York announced on Monday that William Dudley, the bank's president since January of 2009, would be stepping down from his position in mid-2018.

German factory orders shot higher last month on the back of a surge in demand for capital goods from other euro area nations.

More news

16:33 Eurozone consumer confidence jumps in November

Consumer confidence in the single currency bloc shot higher in November, according to the executive arm of the European Union.

16:24 Thursday preview: UK GDP, ECB minutes, results from Centrica, Cineworld, Severn Trent

Thursday's market volumes will be thinner as the US gets fatter on Thanksgiving, while the UK chews over the second reading for gross domestic product and likely further analysis of the Chancellor's Budget, while corporate results include Centrica, Severn Trent and Cineworld.

15:52 Budget: New tax breaks aim to revive North Sea oil and gas producers

Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced new tax breaks to encourage investment in North Sea oil and gas producers.

15:47 Budget: Hammond targets first-time buyers as growth forecasts are cut

Philip Hammond scrapped stamp duty on almost all first-time property purchases as he sought to inject good news into his Budget after a series of cuts to the outlook for the economy.

15:38 Treasury facing £300m phone bill after mobile network court challenge

The Treasury was facing the prospect of a rather expensive mobile phone bill on Wednesday, after a £300m appeal against a significant increase in annual license fees was upheld.

15:30 Gfinity losses widen as it invests in product

Esports entertainment business Gfinity saw revenue increase 64% to £2.37m in the year to 30 June, it reported on Wednesday, with its loss before tax widening to £5.3m from £3.1m.

15:25 Rambler installs Scott Britton as manager at Ming Mine

Rambler Metals and Mining announced the appointment of Scott Britton as its new general manager at the Ming Copper-Gold Mine in Baie Verte, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada on Wednesday.

15:20 Ferrum Crescent granted three-year extension at Toral

Europe-focussed lead-zinc explorer Ferrum Crescent announced on Wednesday that, following a formal application to the Director-General of Mines of the Province of Leόn, its exploration licence on the Toral lead-zinc project has been renewed for a further three-year term to November 2020.

15:16 Totally acquisition Vocare wins contract extension with NHS Vale of York

Out-of-hospital services provider Totally has been awarded a two year contract extension ‘in-principle’ to 31 March 2020 with NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group, it announced on Wednesday.

15:30 Budget: Chancellor unveils stamp duty cut, housebuilder's planning probe

A range of new housing policies were proposed by Chancellor Philip Hammond in his Budget statement, including more funds for smaller housebuilder, a probe into potential holding of land by major housebuilders and a stamp duty cut for first-time buyers.