Weeky review

Oliver Haill Sharecast | 18 Aug, 2017 17:27 - Updated: 18:04 | | |

The FTSE 100 finished the week almost flat, up 14.02 points or 0.19%, at 7,323.98.

Equity view

On Monday, Barclays announced that in a further effort to cut costs it will be closing around 54 branches before the end of the year, reducing much needed access to services for customers across the UK.

BP's Trinidad and Tobago arm reported first gas from the Juniper development, its first subsea field development in Trinidad, on-schedule and under budget.

American firm Century Aluminium and Glencore have been linked to the purchase of Rio Tinto's Pacific Aluminium business, which according to a current listing at Deutsche Bank, could go for as much as $1bn.

On Tuesday, John Wood Group's takeover of Amec Foster Wheeler took a step further after the competition regulator provisionally accepted the pair's proposed remedies.

Shire said its application for Europe-wide marketing of its lifitegrast dry-eye disease drug had been approved in the UK.

Financial services firm Hargreaves Lansdown said full year net new business inflows rose 15% to £6. 9bn adding that it had “sufficiently strong financial, liquidity and capital positions” and operate a progressive ordinary dividend policy.

Talks between Sainsbury’s and grocery wholesale group NISA have stalled over fears of intervention by UK competition authorities.

Royal Bank of Scotland is planning to cut 40% of permanent IT staff and 65% of contractor roles in London by 2020, totalling 880 job cuts, according to union reports.

Admiral's profits for the first six months of the year were hit by the rising cost of personal injury claims after the government changed the payment calculation, though the insurer surprised some analysts by hiking its half-year pay-dividend.

Prudential offloaded its US independent broker-dealer network for a fee that could rise to $448m as the life insurer looks to trim the fat.

Construction outfit Balfour Beatty swung to a first half pre-tax profit of £12m from a loss of £15m last year as its more selective bidding approach started to yield results.

In its first results as a FTSE 250 company, Sirius Minerals reported a larger loss as its development of its Woodsmith polyhalite fertiliser mine under the Yorkshire Moors prepares to move to sinking of a first shaft in the new year.

London-based gold and silver miner Hochschild said interim pre-tax profits fell 33.8% to $39.9m (£30.9m) as higher costs hit the bottom line.

A joint venture between Amec Foster Wheeler and Interserve won a framework contract to work on the nuclear reprocessing plants and facilities at Sellafield in Cumbria, worth up to £160m over four years for the pair.

Property investment company CLS Holdings more than trebled first half pre-tax profits to £119. 4m boosted by disposals.

Diversified group BGEO said second-quarter pre-tax profits soared to GEL 128.1m (£42m) from GEL 46.5m, aided by an increase in income from its banking and healthcare units.

Hunting promoted operations director Jim Johnson to group chief executive as Dennis Proctor retires from the energy services company at the start of September.

On Thursday, Hikma Pharmaceuticals reported a 1% rise in first-half sales and flat profits, but trimmed its guidance for the full year as the generic drugs arm faces tougher market conditions and continues discussions with US regulators over a key generic asthma drug.

Sales at retailer Kingfisher took a bit of a hammering in the second quarter and the owner of the B&Q and Screwfix chains remained cautious over the outlook for the UK and France in the second half.

BHP Billiton approved a $2.5n investment to extend the Spence copper mine life in Chile by at least 50 years.

A federal US government agency brought a case against several of the world's largest banks, including the biggest UK lenders, alleging that their manipulation of the London Interbank Offered Rate resulted in losses for US lenders.

Marshalls Group, the maker of paving slabs, street furniture and floor tiles, posted a solid set of interim results on Thursday, reporting increased revenue thanks to a 17% year-on-year increase in domestic sales.

Casino and bingo hall operator Rank reported final results boosted by a significantly improved second half thanks to a strong improvement in digital, with optimism lifted further by the launch of the new Luda bingo format.

On Friday, airline and travel stocks took a nosedive as the horrific van attack in Barcelona the previous evening was felt likely to hit tourism to the region.

AstraZeneca and Merck have been given approval by the US drug administrator to sell their olaparib ovarian cancer drug, branded Lynparza, in a new tablet form and to a wider range of cancer sufferers.

Reckitt Benckiser completed the $4.2bn (£3.2bn) sale of its food business, including the French's, Frank's RedHot and Cattlemen's brands, to McCormick & Company.

St Modwen Properties said it had secured its first letting of the 1m square feet of industrial and distribution space at Burton Gateway commercial business park in Burton-on-Trent.

GCP confirmed it would subscribe for £140m in loan notes as Macquarie Group completed its acquisition of the Green Investment Bank from the UK government.

Economic news

On Monday, UK inflation surprisingly held steady in July, reducing some of the pressure on the Bank of England for a rate hike but keeping up the squeeze on household budgets.

UK house price growth softened for a third consecutive month, according to official figures published on Tuesday, as the market slips on political and economic uncertainty.

On Wednesday, UK unemployment was revealed to have unexpectedly fallen to a new 42-year low and therefore helped nudge average earnings slightly higher, though real wages remain in decline due to elevated inflation.

A UK government positioning paper has said that ensuring there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will be a top priority as Brexit negotiations continue.

Gas prices are set for increased volatility heading into winter after the closure of a major storage facility off the east coast of England, the CEO of a key energy alliance group has said.

UK used car transactions skidded lower in the second quarter of 2017, mirroring the fall in new car sales.

On Thursday, UK retail sales were revealed to be stronger than expected in July but strong food sales are continuing to mask wider weakness as consumers feel the pinch.

Spending in at pubs and restaurants in July held firm at fairly subdued levels in July, according to new research published on Friday that indicates consumers are prioritising certain types of spending.

International events

North Korea came under further international pressure on Monday after China moved to implement recently approved UN trade sanctions against the regime.

The White House’s decision to order a probe into Chinese trading practices will 'poison' relations between the two countries at a critical time, state-run newspaper China Daily warned.

South Korean President Moon Jae told his American allies there must be a diplomatic solution to the crisis with North Korea.

Chinese economic activity cooled more than expected last month as authorities' tightening measures began to bite.

US President Donald Trump came under fire from politicians on both sides of the divide after he failed to explicitly condemn far right groups following a car attack in Virginia on Saturday, leading to a number of high profile business leaders leaving his White House business councils.

Industrial production in the single currency bloc fell back in June amid sharp drops in the output of capital and durable consumer goods.

Cryptocurrency Bitcoin hit another record high on Sunday and surpassed the $4000 mark for the first time.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis cautioned North Korea that it would be "game on" if the rogue nation fired missiles towards the US or its territories, including Guam.

According to North Korea's official news agency KCNA, Kim Jong-un was planning to mull paperwork from his army before firing any missiles towards Guam.

Germany's economy slowed a tad in the second quarter with foreign trade exerting a drag on activity.

Credit growth in China rose slightly last month but economists expected the long-term downwards trend would reassert itself, weighing on growth.

The US consumer continued spending freely in July, particularly on motor vehicles and building materials.

Factory sector activity in the Federal Reserve bank of New York's jurisdiction accelerated noticeably in August, the results of a survey conducted by its staff revealed.

Economic activity in the single currency bloc picked-up slightly in the second quarter of the year despite a slightly slower expansion in Germany, the region's largest economy.

Analysts and traders hoping that European Central Bank governor Mario Draghi might signal a small shift in its policy stance next week may be asked to wait at least a little bit longer.

The US housing market cooled last month with scant indication in the data that a turnout might be on the cards in the near-term, according to economists.

One of the most widely-followed gauges for the US jobs market revealed it continued to be in robust health.

Activity in the US mid-Atlantic factory sector gained momentum, according to the results of one of the most widely-watched surveys.

US industrial production continued expanding in July as increased energy and utilities output offset a decline in manufacturing.

On Friday, better expectations for the economy overall and for personal financial prospects saw US consumer confidence rise in August, the results of a widely-followed survey showed.

The third of three business councils in the White House was been scrapped just days after last week’s Charlottesville violence, following widespread criticism of Donald Trump’s response to the incident.

Bookmakers cut odds on US President Donald Trump resigning after a controversial week for the former reality television star.

Economic news

International events

More news

15:36 Investors told of 600 Group's 'confidence'

Machine tools and laser systems designer, distributor and manufacturer 600 Group updated the market on its trading on Wednesday, as investors gathered for its annual general meeting.

15:28 FTSE 100 movers: Babcock gains on update but Diageo drops

London's FTSE 100 was down 0.2% to 7,260.51 in afternoon trade on Wednesday as the pound gained ground after encouraging retail sales data, with the FOMC statement due after after the close very much in focus.

15:43 US existing home sales unexpectedly drop in August

Sales of US existing homes unexpectedly fell in August, according to data from the National Association of Realtors.

15:08 Blur Group to raise £1.2m through conditional placing

Blur Group announced on Wednesday that it intended to raise £1.2m before expenses by way of a conditional placing of ordinary shares at a price of 4p per ordinary share, to raise gross proceeds of £1.2m.

14:50 Frontier IP's Alusid extends SilicaStone range

Intellectual property commercialisation specialist Frontier IP noted on Wednesday that its portfolio company Alusid has launched an extension to its ‘SilicaStone’ range of sustainable alternatives to traditional stone.

14:46 Bank risks policy mistake by hiking in November, Credit Suisse says

Credit Suisse changed its rate call for the Bank of England to a hike in November, adding that it would be a 'one-off' and was likely to be a "big" policy mistake.

15:32 Rationale for asset purchases now gone, ECB's Knot says

The stronger euro reflects the relative strength and stability of the single currency bloc's economy, a top European Central bank official said.

14:15 HTC suspends shares amid Google takeover speculation

Trading in shares of Taiwanese technology group HTC will be suspended on Thursday following reports that Google parent Alphabet is planning a takeover.

14:02 RBC Capital upgrades Nostrum to 'outperform' after recent weakness

RBC Capital Markets upgraded Nostrum Oil & Gas to 'outperform' from 'sector perform' saying recent weakness is an opportunity and its discount to peers it set to unwind as it delivers operational milestones.

14:01 HSBC upgrades Stagecoach, despite longer-term doubts around dividend

Ahead of Stagecoach's 28 September trading update, HSBC bumped up its recommendation for the shares from 'reduce' to 'hold', telling clients they thought it was right to exercise caution in the long-term, although in the short-term it was unlikely that further trading weakness would come through.