London shares have been hit by two separate outages today, though trading has continued as normal for members of the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250.
FTSE 100 Live Tuesday
Upper Crust owner plots US growth
Qatar sells big Barclays stake
Small-cap trading hit by LSE outage
Marston’s cheers ‘promising’ Christmas bookings but drops to loss
Tuesday 5 December 2023 14:45 , Daniel O'Boyle
Pub giant Marston’s has reported “promising” Christmas bookings after a jump in sales, but also slumped to a loss for the past year.
The company, which owns 1,414 pubs across the UK, told shareholders on Tuesday morning that bookings for the key Christmas period have been “tracking ahead of last year”.
William Rucker, chairman of the Wolverhampton-based firm, said consumer demand has remained “resilient” despite the challenging economic backdrop.
Game maker Tinybuild's shares tumble as it warns it could run out of cash by end of January
Tuesday 5 December 2023 13:50 , Daniel O'Boyle
Video game maker Tinybuild, once valued at £600 million, says it needs to find new cash by the end of January to stay alive, after being hit by the combination of weak sales and two legal settlements.
Tinybuild had already warned on sales earlier in the year but said that the market has deteriorated further in October, and some major contracts now may not be signed. Sales are now expected to fall between $40 million and $50 million.
At the same time, the business agreed two legal settlements that have hit its balance sheet. These concern payments related to the acquisition of game publisher Versus Evil in 2021, and are for a combined $3.5 million.
Tinybuild singled out Versus Evil's games as a particular underperformer in its recent trading performance.
Lunchtime market snapshot
Tuesday 5 December 2023 13:00 , Daniel O'Boyle
Take a look at our lunchtime market snapshot with Landsec the top riser but the FTSE 100 still down
Shallower UK recession?
Tuesday 5 December 2023 12:52 , Daniel O'Boyle
Paul Dales, chief UK economist at Capital Economics, says that recent data suggests the recession he expects to hit the UK next year will be shallower than previously thought, but it'll take longer to return to any kind of serious growth.
"With higher interest rates taking longer to percolate through the economy, we now think the recession will be shallower and GDP growth will stay weak throughout all of 2024," he says. "It’s a softer landing for the economy, but the runway is longer.
"And because the restraints on supply are unlikely to fade quickly, price pressures in the UK will take longer to ease than elsewhere. That’s why we believe the Bank of England won’t cut interest rates from 5.25% until late in 2024."
City watchdog clamps down on ‘poor quality’ credit ratings
Tuesday 5 December 2023 12:45 , Daniel O'Boyle
The City regulator has moved to clamp down on credit rating agencies sharing patchy information with lenders, which it said can lead to people being “cut out” of the credit market or taking on debts they cannot afford.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said changes were needed to make sure people’s credit files better reflect their finances.
Equifax, Experian and TransUnion are the three largest credit reference agencies in the UK, accounting for almost all of the credit information sector.
Trading to resume after second small-cap halt
Tuesday 5 December 2023 12:22 , Daniel O'Boyle
Trading is set to resume after the second outage for small-caps of the day.
The exchange said: "Impacted instruments are being resumed. Order driven securities will enter into a re-opening auction at 12:20 with uncrossing beginning at 12:40. During this period, instrument status will be shown as Halted but customers will be able to manage their orders in the system. After the uncrossing, the instrument status will be updated to Regular Trading. At 12:20, SETSqx securities will return to their regular schedule but instrument status will show as Halted.
"In SETSqx securities, customers will be able to manage quotes and orders as normal in this period, with the next scheduled auction uncrossing at 14:00 as per the normal schedule after which the instrument status will move from Halted to a instrument status that reflects its regular schedule. Pure quote driven securities will continue to show as Halted although quotes can still be managed in the system with investigations ongoing."
CBI appoints Soames as new president as it aims to rebound from scandals
Tuesday 5 December 2023 12:04 , Daniel O'Boyle
Business lobby group the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has appointed Rupert Soames as its new president, as it aims to bounce back from a series of scandals.
Soames will replace Brian McBride, and work with CEO Rain Newton-Smith. He joins a CBI that is aiming to reimagine itself after surviving a vote on its future following a number of scandals that contributed to the exit of former CEO Tony Danker.
The Guardian reported that two different women reported they were raped while working at the group. Reports also claimed that Danker sent a female employee inappropriate messages over more than a year. Former president John Allan, who left that role in 2020, was also accused of inappropriate touching.
Small caps suspended again
Tuesday 5 December 2023 11:34 , Daniel O'Boyle
Trading of shares outside the FTSE 350 has been halted again, as the London Stock Exchange continues to deal with an unspecified issue.
The exchange said: "We are investigating an issue. Currently only FTSE 100, FTSE 250 and IOB securities are available for trading.
"We are undertaking immediate analysis and will provide further updates through our live service portal"
Market snapshot: FTSE 100 falls further
Tuesday 5 December 2023 11:15 , Daniel O'Boyle
Take a look at the latest market snapshot with the FTSE 100 having fallen further.
City Comment: Any fight over UK asset ownership was lost long ago
Tuesday 5 December 2023 11:05 , Simon English
Foreign ownership of UK listed shares has hit a record high of nearly 60%, The Times reports this morning.
Which means the ownership of such assets by UK pension funds and insurers is at an all-time low – or at least the lowest since anyone started counting.
You can look at this two ways. One is we’ve been engaged in a decades long experiment to sell England by the pound, a reckless flogging of the family silver not replicated by any other wealthy nation.
The second is that foreign investors seem to have rather more belief in our prospects than we do.
Barclays among FTSE 100 fallers, Quiz slides on sales disappointment
Tuesday 5 December 2023 10:24 , Graeme Evans
Barclays shares today fell 3.3p to 139.7p after Qatar’s wealth fund offloaded a position in the banking giant worth more than £500 million.
The disposal of 361.7 million shares at 141p represents about half of Qatar's remaining position, having originally put in billions of pounds to support the bank during the 2008 financial crisis.
Mining stocks joined Barclays on today’s blue-chip fallers board, with sentiment impacted by Moody’s cutting China’s credit rating to negative from stable.
The latest jitters concerning the world’s second largest economy left the Hang Seng index 2% lower and contributed to Anglo American weakening by 39.5p to 2185p and Rio Tinto by 45p to 5403p. Asia-facing insurer Prudential lost 14.4p to 849.8p.
The FTSE 100 index fell 16.67 points to 7496.29, while the gold price weakened from yesterday's record intraday high of $2135 an ounce as traders pushed back against recent speculation over US interest rate cuts.
Other blue-chip fallers included Sunbelt plant hire business Ashtead, down 177p to 4730p despite record half-year profits and reassurance that North American markets remain healthy.
Ashtead has now fallen 10% since last month’s downgrade to full-year guidance caused by reduced emergency response work and impact of the US actors’ strike.
On the risers board, property firm Land Securities lifted 8.8p to 636.6p after Goldman Sachs switched its recommendation to “buy”.
The FTSE 250 index improved 49.40 points to 18,410.65, led by a 6% jump for discoverIE after the maker of customised electronics reported a 17% jump in half-year operating profits.
On AIM, Quiz fell 17% or 1.2p to 5.75p as the fashion brand said sales for the past two months including Black Friday had been short of expectations. It has launched a review of strategic options, led by independent chair Peter Cowgill.
On The Beach to “pursue Ryanair for further sums” after legal win
Tuesday 5 December 2023 10:14 , Daniel O'Boyle
Online travel agent On The Beach says it will continue to “pursue Ryanair for further sums”, after winning a £2 million court case over refunds for flights cancelled by the low-cost airline.
On The Beach was awarded £2 million in October after it said it had to refund customers’ flights as Ryanair did not do so.
“This common-sense outcome should not have taken a protracted and expensive legal process to resolve,” it said.
The travel agent said it had been forced to pay more refunds since the case began, and it was now trying to chase claims for these.
Smaller stocks to resume trading
Tuesday 5 December 2023 09:59 , Daniel O'Boyle
The London Stock Exchange is to resume trading in its smaller cap shares after a trading halt that lasted almost half an hour.
FTSE 100 and 250 stocks were unaffected by the halt.
"We are now resuming trading on impacted instruments" the London Stock Exchange said. "Instruments will go into auction at 09:55 with uncrossing beginning at 10:15."
London Stock Exchange hit by outage again - FTSE 100 and 250 not affected
Tuesday 5 December 2023 09:52 , Daniel O'Boyle
The London Stock Exchange has been hit by its third trading outage in two months, with non-FTSE 350 stocks affected.
The exchange said: "The London Stock Exchange still investigating an incident.
"We are undertaking immediate analysis and will provide further updates through our live service portal.
"Currently only FTSE 100, FTSE 250 and IOB securities are available for trading."
Barclays down 3% in weaker FTSE 100, upgrade boosts Land Securities
Tuesday 5 December 2023 08:47 , Graeme Evans
The FTSE 100 index is down 33.10 points at 7479.8, with Barclays among the biggest fallers after one of its largest shareholders sold some of its stake.
The £510 million disposal by Qatar Holdings at a reported price of 141p contributed to the banking giant’s shares falling 3% or 4.9p to 138.1p.
Other blue-chip fallers included the Sunbelt plant hire business Ashtead, which lost 177p to 4730p despite record half-year profits.
It said end markets in North America remain robust with healthy demand, having downgraded full-year guidance last month due to reduced emergency response work and the impact of the US actors’ strike.
One of the best performing blue-chip stocks was property firm Land Securities, which lifted 5p to 632.8p after Goldman Sachs recommended buying the shares.
The FTSE 250 index added 19.14 points to 18,380.39, led by a rise of 5% or 10.4p to 223.4p for SSP as the Upper Crust owner’s results included the first dividend payment since the pandemic. The 2.5p a share compares with the 6p declared with 2019 results.
Tuesday 5 December 2023 08:26 , Daniel O'Boyle
Take a look at today's market snapshot with Barclays leading the fallers
SSP to look outside UK for growth opportunities
Tuesday 5 December 2023 07:57 , Daniel O'Boyle
Upper crust owner SSP says it plans to focus more on “high-growth” markets like the US rather than the UK, after reporting soaring profits in the year to 30 September.
Profit more than tripled to £88 million, though the business said UK sales were impacted by rail strikes. While UK profits were still up significantly, the group said it would increase its focus on North America and Asia, while growing “more selectively” in the UK and mainland Europe.
Patrick Coveney, CEO of SSP Group, said: "This has been a year of strong financial, operational and strategic progress for SSP. We are continuing to lay the foundations for accelerated expansion in key growth markets such as North America and Asia Pacific. We are also making clear strides in enhancing our customer proposition, our digital capabilities and our sustainability initiatives.
“Our ongoing focus on these areas has led to SSP delivering strong like-for-like growth, high levels of new business, a robust margin recovery, and even closer relationships with our clients and brand partners.”
The business also brought back its dividend, at 2.5p per share.
Shares under pressure as gold falls back, Australia interest rates on hold
Tuesday 5 December 2023 07:21 , Graeme Evans
Wall Street shares closed lower and the dollar strengthened last night as traders pushed back on recent speculation over US interest rate cuts.
The Nasdaq weakened 0.8% and the S&P 500 index by 0.5%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was more resilient after a decline of just 0.1%.
A stronger performance by the dollar left the pound at $1.2626 this morning, while the gold price has fallen back after hitting an intra-day record of $2135 an ounce in Asia trading on Monday. It had retreated to $2026 by last night.
Earlier today, Australia’s central bank left interest rates at 4.35% after last month’s surprise decision to raise rates by another quarter point.
Asia markets have tracked the US losses, led by a decline of more than 2% for Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index.
The FTSE 100 index closed 16.39 points lower at 7512.96 yesterday and is forecast by CMC Markets to open down 15 points at 7498.
Recap: Yesterday's top stories
Monday 4 December 2023 17:17 , Simon Hunt
Good morning. Here's a summary of our top headlines from yesterday:
Spotify to cut one in six jobs in “painful” efficiency cull as growth slows
Gold price hits a new all time high in Far East trading as nervous investors pile into precious metals and Bitcoin
Saudi PIF buys “significant minority holding" in Rocco Forte hotels, owner of London’s Browns hotel
Listed art deco Ravenscourt Hospital in Hammersmith to be turned into 140 luxury homes after standing empty for more than a decade