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FTSE 100 Live 20 May: Early blue-chip gains fade, oil rises, Ryanair hires Amber Rudd

FTSE 100 Live (Evening Standard)
FTSE 100 Live (Evening Standard)

The FTSE 100 shrugged off geopolitical concerns in early trading today, but its gains have faded in the afternoon.

Defensive stocks have been near the top of the leaderboard, underlining the tentative mood of the session.

Meanwhile, mid-cap takeover activity has continued at pace, as video games business Keywords Studios said it is “minded to” accept a £2 billion bid from Swedish private equity giant EQT.

FTSE 100 closes up four points

Monday 20 May 2024 16:38 , Daniel O'Boyle

The FTSE 100 closed up four points today at 8,424.20, remaining new record levels.

London’s top flight hit has high as 8451 before fading in the afternoon.


Top risers included Fresnillo and Rolls-Royce. Easyjet and Ocado were the top fallers.

Standby for major clue on interest rate cut from 'momentous' inflation data announcement

Monday 20 May 2024 15:59 , Daniel O'Boyle

The fate of an early summer interest rate cut may be defined this week, by hotly anticipated inflation data that will reveal how close the rate of rising prices is near to the Bank of England’s official target.

Mortgage holders, house hunters, City experts and millions of other borrowers and savers are waiting for clues on the timing of the first rate cut of the post-Covid era.

Read more here

New York stocks tick higher as mood of cautious optimism holds on global markets

Monday 20 May 2024 14:51 , Michael Hunter

Wall Street’s S&P 500 inched higher in opening trade, as the cautiously optimistic feel to trade on global markets lasted Into New York trade.

The S&P 500 added just over 8 points to 5304.38.

Technology stocks were prominent on the list of rising shares. NVIDIA was up 2% ahead of its earnings due the week. Super Micro Computer was up almost 4%.

According to David Morrison at Trade Nation, the US earnings season “has proved broadly supportive”.

He added: “Current earnings growth is at its best levels since the second quarter of 2022, although price/earnings ratios suggest that stocks are expensive, running above both their 5 and 10-year averages.”

With Federal Reserve interest rate setters due to speak today ,US investors stayed on alert for clues on the timing of an interest rate cut.

And minutes from the last rate-setting committee meeting are due on Wednesday.

US stocks set to hold onto last week's gains

Monday 20 May 2024 13:46 , Daniel O'Boyle

US stocks are set to hold onto last week’s gains despite renewed geopolitical uncertainty.

S&P 500 futures are up another six points from Friday’s record close, while Dow Jones futures are up 21 points, remaining ahead of the 40000 mark crossed last week. Nasdaq futures are up 0.2%.

The release of the minutes for the Fed’s most recent meeting and Nvidia’s quarterly results will be among the highlights of this week in the US.

Summer interest rate cut ‘possible’, says Bank of England deputy governor

Monday 20 May 2024 13:18 , Daniel O'Boyle

UK interest rates could be cut by the Bank of England as soon as this summer, according to its deputy governor.

Ben Broadbent, deputy governor of the central bank, said in a speech on Monday morning that it is “possible” borrowing costs will come down this summer if the economy evolves as expected.

The UK interest rate currently sits at a 16-year-high of 5.25% after it had been increased by the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) over the past two years in a bid to tackle inflation.

Read more here

Victorian Plumbing buys arch rival Victoria Plum in £22.5m deal

Monday 20 May 2024 11:47 , Daniel O'Boyle

Victorian Plumbing has bought its arch rival online bathroom retailer Victoria Plum in a deal worth £22.5 million.

The takeover comes just over six months after Victoria Plum plunged into administration and was bought in a so-called pre-pack deal to AHK Designs.

Victorian Plumbing said a cost-cutting plan was already under way at Doncaster-based Victoria Plum, given its recent administration process, including recent staff cuts.

Read more here

BT delays new digital network switchover timetable

Monday 20 May 2024 11:02 , Daniel O'Boyle

BT has significantly delayed its timetable to force all customers on to the new digital network following long-running concerns about vulnerable customers who rely on landline-based personal alarms.

The group, which is also responsible for EE customers, has abandoned the industry’s previous timeline of completing the national switchover by the end of next year.

It has announced it is now aiming to have moved all customers over by the end of January 2027.

Read more here

Uber offers £5,000 electric car grants for London drivers

Monday 20 May 2024 10:20 , Daniel O'Boyle

Uber is making £5,000 grants available to its drivers in London who switch to an electric vehicle (EV).

The ride-hailing app company announced the measure to help it meet its previous commitment that all Uber vehicles in the capital will be fully electric by the end of 2025.

Drivers can spend their grant cash as a lump sum on an EV purchase, or on weekly payments for rental or rent-to-buy agreements.

Read more here

AstraZeneca to build $1.5 billion factory in Singapore

Monday 20 May 2024 09:08 , Daniel O'Boyle

AstraZeneca will build a $1.5 billion factory in Singapore to make so-called “biological missiles” that kill cancer cells, the pharma giant revealed today.

The FTSE 100 firm will make antibody drug conjugates (ADCs) at the site, which will be the first AstraZeneca facility to house every step of the ADC-making process.

ADCs have been labelled “biological missiles” because of their ability to specifically target and kill cancer cells.

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said: “AstraZeneca has built an industry-leading portfolio of cancer medicines including antibody drug conjugates which have shown enormous potential to replace traditional chemotherapy for patients across many settings.”

The factory is set to open in 2029, and will emit zero carbon from the start of operations.

Gold and oil higher on global markets as traders keep watch on Middle East geopolitics

Monday 20 May 2024 08:42 , Michael Hunter

Gold is in demand this morning, as investors move into the haven asset while keeping watch on political reaction in the Middle East to the death over the weekend of two key figures in Iran.

The country’s president, Ebrahim Raisi and Hossein Amirabdollahian, its foreign minister, were killed in a helicopter crash in a remote part of the country.

It came at a time of heightened tension between Iran and Israel due to the war in Gaza.

Amid a cautious feel to trade, gold rose by around 1% to $2442.10, a rise of around $25.

Oil prices also ticked higher, by $0.25 to $84.25 for Brent crude, the international benchmark. It was a rise of 0,3%.

Mining stocks help FTSE 100 rise further

Monday 20 May 2024 08:16 , Michael Hunter

Mining stocks underpinned more gains for FTSE 100 in opening trade, and confirmation of another multi-billion takeover bid added to the momentum on London’s stock market.

The main index added 15 points to 8,434.75 in opening trade. Fresnillio, the Mexican silver miner, made the biggest single gain, up almost 4%, or over 23p to 638p. Chilean copper producer Antofagasta was up 48p to 2421p.

Anglo American, which is in receipt of a £34 billion bid from Australian rival BHP, was up 28p to 2705p.

Fresh bid action came away from the mining sector. Keywords Studios, the video games maker, indicated that it was likely to back a £2.2 billion bid from EQT, a European private equity group.

Zuber Issa to acquire UK arm of EG Group by the end of June

Monday 20 May 2024 08:11 , Daniel O'Boyle

Zuber Issa is set to acquire the UK arm of EG Group in a bid to reduce the firm’s debt pile, the company has said.

The deal, which excludes certain Starbucks stores, the Cooplands bakery and EG’s electric vehicle charging business Evpoint, is set to be concluded by the end of next month.

The deal would mark the latest in a string of disposals made by EG Group since the start of last year, including the sale of most of its UK petrol forecourts to Asda and the sale of more than 200 KFC stores in the UK and Ireland to Yum! Brands.

Read more here

British Land accelerates move away from the mall with £360 million sale of stake in Meadowhall Shopping centre

Monday 20 May 2024 07:54 , Michael Hunter

British Land has announced the sale of its stake in Meadowhall Shopping centre in Sheffield for £360 million.

The deal is with its existing partner in the famous mall, Norges Bank Investment Management.

The £3.7 billion company is moving away from the mall and concentrating on office space. It owns London’s Broadgate Centre in the City and the Regent’s Place development in Kings Cross.

There is a trend for “campus style” business developments in the post-pandemic era, where offices are blended with retail and leisure facilities, and offer spaces to clients of a range of sizes.

Meadowhall, built in the 1990s, is the largest mall in Yorkshire.

Ryanair hires Amber Rudd

Monday 20 May 2024 07:32 , Simon Hunt

Ryanair has hired former home secretary Amber Rudd as a non-executive director.

Rudd will be joining the board alongside Jinane Laghrari Laabi, a former partner at McKinsey, from the beginning of July.

“They bring significant business, political and national market knowledge to our board,” said Ryanair Chairman Stan McCarthy.

Rudd is also a non-executive director of London-listed Centrica.

’ (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Archive)
’ (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Archive)

Keywords Studios 'minded to' accept £2bn bid

Monday 20 May 2024 07:12 , Daniel O'Boyle

The board of Keywords Studios, the London-listed firm that offers services to video game studios, said it is “minded to” accept a £2 billion bid for the business from private equity group EQT.

Keywords is in “advanced discussions” over a 2550p per share offer for the business, which is made up of dozens of video game and film service providers. However, a firm offer at that price has not yet been made.

Keywords said: “The possible offer follows four previous unsolicited proposals from EQT in recent months, which the board rejected, and represents a significant increase from the initial proposal. The Board remains confident in the company's growth strategy of building the only truly global platform providing solutions to the video games and entertainment industries, both organically and through acquisitions, and EQT is supportive of this strategy.

“The Board of Keywords Studios has carefully evaluated the possible offer with its financial advisers and concluded the possible offer is at a value that the Board would be minded to recommend to Keywords Studios shareholders.”

If an offer is made at that price, it would be a 70% premium compared to Keywords’ closing share price on Friday.

Recap: Friday's top stories

Monday 20 May 2024 06:47 , Simon Hunt

Good morning from the Standard City desk.

For the past three years we have been blighted by inflation and told that, however painful it may be, borrowing costs had to go higher.

From this week we could start reading that inflation is in fact now too low, a change of direction that might make little sense to non-economists, or indeed to most people noticing just how much more expensive almost everything is. (Bills, pints of beer, insurance, taxis.)

The consensus is that inflation hovers around 2%, and maybe ticks back up above it over the next couple of years. Capital Economics is one observer which goes further than that. It thinks that the average rate of inflation between now and the end of 2026 will be 1.1%.

If it is right, then the Bank of England should surely be cutting interest rates already rather than sucking its teeth and waiting for the evidence to hit it over the head.

By common consent, the Bank was far too slow to put rates up as inflation gathered pace. It now looks like it could be too slow to cut them as inflation tumbles.