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FTSE 100 closed firm but volumes thin

FTSE 100 shares managed to recover enough to close Friday firmer but volumes were held back by the half-day trading in New York following Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday

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Sky was available in HD format for investors on Friday

FTSE 100 shares managed to recover enough to close Friday firmer but volumes were held back by the half-day trading in New York following Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.

The FTSE 100 closed up by 11 points, or 0.2%, at 6,840.

Investors appeared to “believe in better” as is the motto of broadcaster Sky plc (LON:SKY) adverts, as the stock crowned the leaders board of the blue-chip ticker. Sky shares were up 3.9% at 787p on no fresh news.

Drugs company AstraZeneca (LON:AZN) was the second top riser, of 2.2% to 4301.5p, following an upgrade from the broker Liberum.

On the downside, Scottish insurer Standard Life (LON:SL.) led with a 2.2% decline to 345.8p.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 index ended up 0.07% at 17,603 and led by UDG Healthcare plc (LON:UDG), up 5.5% to 648.5p. On Thursday the company reported third quarter earnings and the positive vibes carried on into Friday. UDG Healthcare is in a net cash position to deliver sustained future growth after the disposal of its United Drug Supply Chain (UDSC) businesses and MASTA.

The FTSE AIM 100 Index closed up 0.4% at 3945 and the FTSE AIM All-Share Index up 0.3% at 820.

Gainers and losers were neck-and-neck in London on Friday at 31% apiece.


 

Late session

  • FTSE 100 broadly flat

  • Daily Mail & General Trust suffers Barclays downgrade

  • Retailers sleepwalking through Black Friday

  • Black Friday grips the nation

 

1.45pm...

Retailers have reported a strong start to Black Friday trading as millions logged onto websites and visited stores to take advantage of today’s sales bonanza.

The busiest period seems to have been for the half an hour after 8am when people surfed the web scouring for deals on their way to work.

Department chain store John Lewis said early indicators suggested it could be one of its busiest shopping periods ever.

At one point, it was taking five orders a second on its website, with sales on mobile phones in particularly strong.

“Sales on our website exceeded expectations overnight as customers logged on to take advantage of our great Black Friday deals.  We expect traffic to continue to the website today,” said operations director Dino Rocos.

Businesses are expected to take in upwards of £2bn today. It will be the busiest day in a week of promotions and sales that is forecast to deliver almost £7bn.

12pm...

Shares in CloudTag Inc (LON:CTAG) tumbled yesterday from 10.25p to 8.9p, but the fitness and health-focused wearable tech developer recovered most of that today.

Investors were upbeat on the stock after CloudTag revealed it had closed a sales and marketing agreement with a leading North American distributor, CITIES Market Studios Group.

The deal – which was first mooted back in August – will see CITIES sell and market CloudTag products in the USA and Canada to its largest regular retail partners, which include big names such as Best Buy, Walmart and Amazon.

Elsewhere, Fastjet PLC (LON:FJET) flew lower after it said its plans to stabilise the business will mean it needs to raise money in the near-term.

The low cost air carrier’s non-executive chairman, Colin Child, is also set to step down from that position and as director.

11.35am...

The reported sales balance in the November CBI Distributive Trades survey rose to +26 in November from +21 in October, well ahead of the consensus forecast of +12.

“The CBI’s reported sales balance rose to its highest level since September 2015 and the largest majority of retailers since December 2015 expect sales to increase over the next month. The survey, however, was only conducted up until November 14, so it excludes the week which includes Black Friday, which is now the most important week of the year for retailers,” noted Pantheon Macro.

Black Friday is today, and judging by the somnolent performance of retailers today, investors are sitting on their hands until they receive information on how the retail trade’s hyped-up hoodwinking exercise has gone.

9.45am..

FTSE 100 is down around three points and struggling for direction in early morning trade.

Wall Street was closed yesterday for Thanksgiving so there's no steer from there and London is uneasy about the state of the future economy, the potential squeeze on living standards and the prospect of a US interest rate rise soon, while the UK appears to be on an entirely different route of travel.

Also ahead is the revised third quarter UK GDP data.

The top gainer is Unilever (LON:UNVR) which is up 0.86% to 3,146p. Silver giant Fresnillo (LON:FRES) is among the top laggards, down 1.53% to 1,225p.

Pennon (LON:PNN) shares added 1.54% to 822.5p as the water company delivered interim results, which cheered, while newspaper and media titan Daily Mail & General Trust (LON:DMGT) shed over 4% to 765p as Barclays downgraded the share to ‘underweight’ from ‘equalweight’ and cut the price target to 705p from 715p.

8.30am...

The Thanksgiving hangover continued for the London market, which was bereft of direction after the American holiday.

Wall Street was closed Thursday and trading volumes evaporated.

The day after and the picture was little changed as the index of blue-chip shares fell two points to 6,826.32.

That’s as near as flat as you are ever going to get.

One wonders whether, given the lack of action, the Square Mile’s traders might be better served heading off for a little Black Friday argy-bargy. That might get the juices going again.

AstraZeneca (LON:AZN) neared the top of the risers’ column following an upgrade from broker Liberum.

The big mover on AIM was Constellation Healthcare Technology (LON:CHT), which shot up 25% after accepting a bid that will take the business private.

6.45am...no movement

FTSE 100 is called to open around flat on Friday after it didn't move the needle much on Thursday either.

The bluechip UK benchmark closed at 6,829, or up 0.17% and is today tipped to open down almost a point.Away from the markets, shoppers in droves are expected to search for bargains as so-called Black Friday sales kick off.

Wall Street was closed yesterday for the Thanksgiving holiday and is open today for a truncated session, closing at 1pm. US shares have been setting record high levels this week and the pause spelled an end briefly to the surge in the dollar.

The strong dollar, Trumps potential investment policies, and expectations of a December rate rise has meant stronger US bond yields, which had weakened emerging markets.

But on Thursday, the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.06% to 3,243, while the Nikkei 225 gained 0.26% to 18,381.

On yesterday's trading, Michael Hewson, at CMC Markets, noted that in the absence of US markets yesterday, European markets had managed to eke out a positive session despite disappointing final third quarter gross domestic  product (GDP) number, and another new 13 year high for the US dollar index..

"..but despite yesterday’s rebound it’s been a lacklustre week for European markets, overshadowed by the record levels being set in the US," he said.

Ahead today, in the UK, the latest revision of third quarter gross domestic product (GDP) will outline economic performance.

It is expected to come in unchanged at 0.5% on a quarterly basis, and 2.3% on an annual basis.

Commentators reckon though that business investment might see a sharp decrease of 1% due to the fallout from the Brexit vote.

Oil prices slipped yesterday as investors awaited next week's meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) for clarity, but the black gold remained on track for weekly gains.

US crude, at the time of writing (West Texas Intermediate) is down 1.06% at US$47.45.

Gold is down 0.85% to US$1,182 an ounce.

City Headlines

'Scotland's Skyscanner sold to Chinese travel giant Ctrip for £1.4bn' -  The Telegraph

"Eager shoppers get ready to begin their christmas shopping as stores and websites up and down the UK kick off their Black Friday sales this morning"- various

The Icelandic government is escalating its cold war against British supermarket Iceland by launching legal action against the chain over the use of its name. - Belfast Telegraph

The average cost of a home in London is more than 14 times average earnings – the highest level on record, according to figures from property consultancy Hometrack. Oxford and Cambridge are not far behind, the company’s latest index of city prices indicates, with house prices at 13.5 and 13.6 times local earnings respectively - Guardian

'UK set for a 'dreadful decade': Toxic mix of high inflation and wage stagnation will leave UK households £1,000 worse off by 2020' ThisisMoney

 

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