Market ReportFTSE 100

FTSE 100 finishes lower as trade worries rear their head again

The UK's premier index of leading shares closed down seven points, or 0.10% at 7,042

mike pompeo
Pompeo's comments seem to have reignited trade war fears
  • FTSE 100 index closes down

  • Bookmakers set for higher taxes

  • US stocks generally lower 

  • Miners boosted by Chinese growth plans

FTSE 100 finished in the red on Monday, having been in positive territory earlier.

The UK's premier index of leading shares closed down seven points, or 0.10% at 7,042.

The FTSE 250 shed over 37 points at 18,758.

Elsewhere, the German DAX lost around 29 to stand at 11,524, while France's CAC 40 is off over 31 points at 5,053.

In the US,  shares were generally lower, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 180 points and the S&P 500 off around 14 points.

Bookmakers were the day’s big losers though amid reports that Chancellor Philip Hammond could hit them with a tax hike in next week’s budget.

Paddy Power Betfair plc (LON:PPB) lost 4% to 6,485p on the day to be the biggets Footsie laggard.

"Stocks in Europe had a positive session earlier in the day, but the gains were eroded in the afternoon," said David Madden at CMC Markets UK.

"Chinese markets had a stellar session last night, but the slightly bullish start to the European session should have been a sign that traders weren’t overly optimistic."

3.45pm: Pompeo puts his foot in it?

Global markets reversed their earlier losses on Monday afternoon, spooked by comments from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo which reignited fears of a US-China trade war.

On a recent tour of Latin America, Pompeo is alleged to have told journalists: “When China comes calling, it is not always to the good of your citizens.”

In an editorial piece today, the state-run China Daily newspaper called the comments “ignorant and malicious”.

The FTSE 100, having been up more than 60 points at one point this afternoon, is now just 13.5 points in the black at 7,063.4.

US stocks opened higher but they are now in the red, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average nursing a 100+ point drop.

WM Morrison Supermarkets PLC (LON:MRW) is a late -afternoon faller among the blue-chips after the grocer lost a legal battle over data protection brought by a group of its employees. Shares are down 0.6% to 248.8p.

Bookmakers are the day’s big losers though amid reports that Philip Hammond could hit them with a tax hike in next week’s budget.

GVC Holdings PLC (LON:GVC) (down 2.8% to 933p), Paddy Power Betfair plc (LON:PPB) (down 2.5% to 6,585p) and William Hill plc (LON:WMH) (down 2.7% to 220.5p) are all in the red.

Private healthcare operator NMC Health plc (LON:NMC) topped the leader board, rising 6.7% to 3,224p after it upped guidance for this year and next.

Elsewhere, Easyjet LC (LON:EZJ) got a bump from fellow budget carrier Ryanair PLC (LON:RYA) which reported an in-line set of interim results. Easyjet stock rose 3.3% to 1,103p.

3.15pm: What are the world's leading strategic metals?

2.45pm: US stocks follow global markets higher

US stocks have opened higher at the beginning of a busy earnings week in New York.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average index rose 47.8 points, or 0.2%, at the open to 25,492.1, while the broader S&P 500 rose 6.2 points, or 0.2%, to 2,773.9.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gained 37.7 points, or 0.5%, to 7,486.74 at the opening bell.

Wall Street followed the trend set by other major global markets, which have all gained today on the hopes of economic stimulus in China and easing tensions in Europe over Italy’s debt.

2.30pm: Rightmove rises on UBS upgrade

Moving back into property listings website operator, Rightmove PLC (LON:RMV), is the right move after the recent sell-off, UBS believes.

Since June 25, when the shares were trading at around 525p, the stock had fallen as low as 422.35p by last Friday’s close, though it perked up to 433.7p today after the Swiss bank upgraded to ‘buy’ from ‘sell’.

Back in July, UBS was among those advising investors to cash in on the merger mania sparked by Silver Lake’s bid for Rightmove’s smaller rival, ZPG (which operates Zoopla). Now, it thinks the sell-off has been overdone.

“We believe features of Rightmove’s model protect it from concerns over Brexit and competition. Specifically, 1) Rightmove operates a sUBScription model that is not sensitive in the short term to transaction volumes and prices; 2) We think vendors will rarely award instructions to agents who do not use Rightmove, and 3) Rightmove’s products are fully integrated with agent workflow and designed to increase share of instructions, a key agent KPI [key performance indicator],” UBS said.

2.10pm: Premier Inn to open no-frills hotel chain

Whitbread plc (LON:WTB) is launching a no-frills hotel chain with small pod-style rooms as Premier Inn’s owner seeks to refocus its business after the sale of cafe chain Costa Coffee to Coca-Cola Corp.

In a news release on its corporate website, the FTSE 100-listed firm – which reports its first-half results on Tuesday -  said the new hotel concept, called Zip by Premier Inn, will be located on the outskirts of major towns and cities.

The group said rooms will cost from £19 a night - Premier Inn prices typically start at £49 - and will be less than half the size of a standard Premier Inn room, at 8.5 square metres.

The first Zip hotel, with 138 rooms, will open in the Roath district of Cardiff early next year, Whitbread said, and it has secured a second site in Southampton, where 140 rooms are planned.

1.40pm: Addison Lee to offer self-driving cars by 2021

British taxi firm Addison Lee and driverless car group Oxbotica have joined forces to take on ride-hailing rival Uber Technologies and offer self-driving taxis in London by 2021.

The two companies said on Monday that Oxbotica would start digital mapping more than 250,000 miles of public roads in and around London from next month, using its technology to create a thorough map.

The move will see Addison Lee compete with rival cab app Uber, which has an agreement in place with Toyota to develop an autonomous fleet.

Uber’s plan has already hit the headlines for the wrong reasons – in March one of its self-driving cars was involved in a fatal collision with a pedestrian in the United States.

1.05pm: FTSE 100 still well in the black

A quick check-up on the FTSE 100 shows the index of blue-chip shares is currently up 59.7 points, or 0.9%, to 7,109.5.

A host of miners, boosted by comments from government officials in China that they will support the world’s second-largest but slowing economy, are all in the black.

NMC Health PLC (LON:NMC) is still the day’s biggest riser, up 9.0% to 3,302p after raising its guidance for this year and next.

Bookmakers are the day’ heaviest fallers, on reports the Philip Hammond will slap them with a tax hike in the Budget later this week.

1pm: Debenhams ‘in £100mln cost-cutting programme’

Department store chain Debenhams PLC (LON:DEB) is reportedly looking to axe dividends and announce further store closures as it seeks to cut costs to offset sluggish sales.

The retailer, which publishes its full-year results on Thursday, and other department store chains have been hit hard by changing shopping habits and weaker consumer confidence.

Debenhams has issued four profit warnings and lost two-thirds of its share price since the start of the year.

According to various Sunday papers, the group is hoping to save £30mln by cutting dividends and a further £70mln by reducing capital expenditure.

Debenhams’ new finance chief Rachel Osborne is understood to be considering closing up to a third of its 166 stores, on top of the 10 closures already announced.

12.40pm: Wall Street to open higher

Wall Street shares are poised to start Monday higher after volatile trading last week, buoyed by a positive session in Asia and a decent morning session in Europe.

On Friday, US stocks closed mostly lower, though the Dow Jones Industrial Average added nearly 65 points at 25,444, while the S&P 500 shed around one point at 2,767. The tech-heavy Nasdaq index lost around 36 points at 7,449.

In futures trade today, the Dow Jones is ahead by 96 points; the Nasdaq is up by just over 36 and the S&P 500 futures are up by nearly six points.

Fiona Cincotta, analyst at City Index in London, said: "European indices are trading gently higher as markets have yet to wake up to the fact that a new political battlefront is about the open up.

"Over the weekend President Trump threatened to pull out of a key 1980s nuclear treaty with Russia over the country’s violation of the pact, just ahead of a meeting on Monday between the US National Security Advisor John Bolton and Russia’s President.

"It remains to be seen what the reaction from Moscow will be as Putin is not renowned for taking threats lying down."

12.15pm: Bookmakers down on Budget reports

UK bookmakers are nursing losses today after reports over the weekend suggested that Chancellor Philip Hammond will hike the tax paid by offshore gambling companies in his Budget later this month.

The Financial Times, which ran the story, said Hammond had drawn up plans to increase the so-called remote gaming duty paid by overseas operators who offer online casino-type games such as blackjack.

The paper speculated that such a move would raise about £1bn over the next five years.

GVC Holdings PLC (LON:GVC) (down 2.8% to 933.5p), Paddy Power Betfair PLC (LON:PPB) (down 2.0% to 6,620p) and William Hill PLC (LON:WMH) (down 2.9% to 220p) are all in the red.

11.45am: NMC Health ups guidance for this year and next

NMC Health PLC (LON:NMC), the leading private healthcare operator in the Gulf States, is the top blue-chip riser this morning after it raised guidance for both 2018 and 2019.

In a statement issued ahead of its capital markets day, the FTSE 100 group raised its 2018 profit (EBITDA) guidance from US$465m to US$480m, 36% up from last year, and said that it expected 2018 revenues to rise by 24%, year-on-year, following positive developments during the second half.

For 2019, NMC also forecasts profit growth of 18%-20% in 2019 and revenue growth of 22%-24% following a “sustained ramp-up at key facilities, integration and expansion of acquired entities as well as strong operational performance.”

Shares are up 8.7% to 3,292p in late-morning trading.

11.15am: Pound falls on May no confidence reports

The weak pound is helping to boost the FTSE 100 so far this morning.

Sterling is down 0.2% to €1.132 versus the euro and by a similar percentage against the dollar to US$1.304.

Reports over the weekend that Theresa May is facing a vote of no confidence from members within her own party are largely to blame, making traders a bit nervous.

May is due to deliver a Brexit update in parliament later today, which should give some more clues about where the UK and EU are in terms of agreeing an exit deal.

A weak pound is good news for most of Britain’s blue-chips as it makes their overseas earnings – about 75% – worth more when converted back, while it also makes their products cheaper to foreign buyers.

That's helping to buoy the Footsie, which is currently up 43.3 points to 7,093.1.

NMC top riser

Away from the currency markets, Middle East-focused healthcare provider NMC Health PLC (LON:NMC) is the FTSE 100’s top riser after upping its full-year guidance, thanks to a strong second-half performance. Shares are up almost 10% to 3,256p.

There’s a smattering of green in the mining sector too, which has been lifted by bullish comments from officials in China – the world’s largest consumer of raw materials – over the weekend.

Ministers there said the government would move to support the markets and the economy after data showed a slowdown in economic growth.

Mexican silver giant Fresnillo PLC (LON:FRES) (up 3% to 921.6p), Chilean copper miner Antofagasta PLC (LON:ANTO) (up 2.1% to 790p) and Glencore PLC (LON:GLEN) (up 1.9% to 315.8p) were all boosted by the comments.

Easyjet PLC (LON:EZJ) (up 4% to 1,111p) got a lift from fellow budget airline Ryanair PLC (LON:RYA), which posted a decent set of first-half results despite the impact of numerous strikes and compensation pay-outs.

Bookies out of favour

On the downside, UK bookmakers were out of favour amid reports that Chancellor Philip Hammond is set to increase the amount of tax paid by offshore gambling companies, which is pretty much all of them.

GVC Holdings PLC (LON:GVC) (down 2.6% to 933.5p) and Paddy Power Betfair PLC (LON:PPB) (down 1.6% to 6,645p) were the two worst hit.

10.55am: Dr Marten's profits rise

Dr Marten’s saw sales and profits march higher last year as the boot brand enjoyed something of a resurgence.

For the year to March 31, operating profits climbed by a third to £50mln, while revenue rose 20% to £349mln.

The shoe brand said its popularity had been helped by various celebrities – including Kanye West and David Beckham – wearing its goods. Sales in Europe and the Middle East were particularly good, it added.

10.40am: UK consumer confidence waning

10.20am: Safestyle inks non-compete with “aggressive” rival

Safestyle UK PLC (LON:SFE) shares have surged after it penned a five-year non-compete agreement with a rival double glazing firm.

The AIM-quoted firm, which makes and sells PVC windows and doors, was forced to issue two profit warnings earlier this year after an “aggressive” new competitor entered the market.

That rival was Safeglaze, which was set up by Safestyle’s founder and former sales chief Mitu Misra.

But the two have reached an agreement which will see Misra receive 4mln shares – currently worth almost £3mln – as well as up to £2mln in cash in return for withdrawing his new company from markets where his old company currently operates.

With Misra out of the way, investors poured back in, sending the stock up by a third to 73.6p. That’s still half what they were selling for in January, though.

9.50am: AstraZeneca’s Lynparza cancer drug excels in late-stage study

Results from a late-stage trial of AstraZeneca PLC’s (LON:AZN) Lynparza drug show that it could be an important cancer treatment.

After three years of taking Lynparza, 60% of ovarian cancer patients with a special type of mutation – called a BRCA mutation – saw their tumour either not get any worse or actually shrink.

That’s quite a change, given that an estimated 70% of women normally relapse within the first three years after their initial treatment.

“The remarkable results of the SOLO-1 trial, which showed that 60% of women with newly-diagnosed, advanced BRCA-mutated ovarian cancer remained progression-free at three years, highlight the potential of Lynparza as a maintenance therapy in the 1st-line setting,” said chief medical officer Sean Bohen.

Deutsche Bank analysts had previously estimated that Lynparza would generate sales of US$1.7bn come 2022, although after today’s results, they reckon that figure looks “too conservative”.

Shares rose 0.3% to 5,951p on Monday morning.

9.20am: Ryanair shares rise despite first-half profits fall

Ryanair PLC (LON:RYA) shares are up so far this morning, despite the budget carrier reporting a 7% fall in first-half profits.

The Irish airline, which makes most of its profit in the summer months, posted a profit of €1.2bn in the six months to the end of September after it had to pay flight compensation from strikes, offer lower airfares and cope with high fuel prices.

Revenue grew 8% to €4.4bn, however, helped by an uplift in ancillary revenues such as extra luggage fees.

But shares rose 5% early on Monday to €12, which most in the City are putting down to the unchanged full-year profit guidance and an absence of more damaging news in the results statement.

8.45am: Solid early advance

The FTSE 100 index notched up early gains on Monday, boosted by strength in heavyweight miners after a rally from Chinese stocks amid economic stimulus hopes.

Around 8.40am, the UK blue-chip index was 17 points higher at 7,066, having gained 22.81 points on Friday.

Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda commented: “President Xi added his name to the list of those vowing to support private firms over the weekend, giving investors reason to pile back in to battered Chinese stocks. The Shanghai Composite had fallen more than 30% from its peak this year prior to Friday’s comments, which has been the clearest sign so far that tariffs are biting.”

He added: “The tariffs may not yet be taking their toll on the trade data but as long as the stock market continues to take a beating and growth stalls – as the data last week showed – Trump will be confident that the measures are effective and continue to threaten to double down until he wins concessions. There’s still a long way to go in this particular trade spat it would seem.”

Among the gainers in London, precious metals miner Fresnillo PLC (LON:FRES) was the top FTSE 100 gainer, up 6% at 941.40p helped by positive comment from BofA Merrill Lynch, while copper peer Antofagasta PLC (LON:ANTO) took on 2.2% at 785.20p, Glencore PLC (LON:GLEN) added 2.1% at 314.85p, and Anglo American PLC (LON:AAL) rose 1.5% to 1,662.40p.

But weaker oil majors were a drag on sentiment, with Royal Dutch Shell PLC (LON:RDSA) A shares down 0.3% at 2,513.50p  and BP PLC (LON:BP.) off 0.2% at 556.20p as investors positioned themselves ahead of third-quarter results from the pair due next week.

Among today’s corporate news, Ryanair (LON:RYA) reported a 7% fall in first-half profit after being hit by higher fuel costs and the impact of cabin crew strikes across Europe, which dented bookings.

The Irish carrier, which makes most of its profit in the summer months, posted a profit of €1.2bn in the six months to the end of September on revenue 8% higher at €4.4bn.

But with the numbers much as expected, Ryanair shares added 3.9% at €11.90.

Proactive news headlines:

Orgenesis is to invest at least another US$1mln into Hemogenyx PLC (LON:HEMO) after the biopharmas entered into a second collaboration deal in as many days.

WideCells Group PLC’s (LON:WDC) stem cell healthcare insurance sUBSidiary, CellPlan, has signed a partnership agreement with international stem cell extraction and storage company, Smart Cells.

Feedback PLC (LON:FDBK), the specialist medical imaging technology company, has received a number of new significant orders for TexRAD technology. The orders for its patented image texture analysis technology have been placed by prestigious university hospitals across Europe, including the first orders from universities in Belgium and Portugal.

Synairgen PLC (LON:SNG) has kicked off the second part of the Phase II trial of its SNG001 drug – a cold and flu treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) sufferers.

Specialist bank PCF Group PLC (LON:PCF) posted a 50% increase in its lending portfolio for the year as it achieved record new business, mostly with prime credit grade customers. In a trading update for the year ended 30 September 2018, the AIM-listed company said its lending portfolio grew to about £219mln from £146mln last year, putting it on track to meet its target of £350mln by September 2020.

SIMEC Atlantis Energy Limited (LON:SAE) said the two turbines retrieved from its MeyGen tidal power project in July for maintenance are back online.

Remedial work by Echo Energy PLC (LON:ECHO) at the Cañadon Salto Field in the Fracción D licence in Argentina has seen a major boost to production. Pilot interventions were carried out on four wells, which boosted output to 115 barrels per day from 5 barrels

Victoria Oil & Gas PLC (LON:VOG) increased sales by 11% in its latest quarter, though presidential elections in Cameroon have delayed the resumption of supplies to power company ENEO. Gross sales in the three months to September rose 11% at 356mln cubic metres of gas or an average 3.72mln per day.

NetScientific PLC (LON:NSCI), the transatlantic healthcare IP commercialisation group, announced that its portfolio company Glycotest Inc. has successfully agreed to a US$10m Series A financing round with Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., a leading healthcare group based in China.

Kavango Resources PLC (LON:KAV) has acquired three new prospecting licences in Botswana. The acquisition follows completion of Phase 1 of the company’s airborne electromagnetic survey over the Kalahari Suture Zone project, which is prospective for nickel, copper and platinum group metals.

Tlou Energy Limited (LON:TLOU) has started drilling at Lesedi in Botswana to test gas flows in the area where a new coal bed methane-fired power station is planned. The first well, 'Lesedi 3P', is scheduled to drill down to a depth of 580m and should covert a significant portion of the currently established gas resources to the more certain reserves category and have potential to deliver gas to the proposed central processing facility and power station planned for nearby.

Red Rock Resources PLC (LON:RRR) has cleared away a major legal obstacle on its 1.2mln ounce Migori project in Kenya. A deal has now been reached with the Attorney General, and the company is free to apply for licences without prejudice.

Scotgold Resources Limited (LON:SGZ) said that it was notified on 19 October 2018 that Nathaniel le Roux, its company’s non-executive acquired 50,000 ordinary shares in the company at a price of 25p each on 18 October 2018. Following the share purchase, Scotgold said, le Roux will have a beneficial interest in 22,368,223 ordinary shares, representing approximately 49.01% of the issued share capital, up from 48.90% previously.

Marketing network, The Marketing Group PLC (NASDAQ:TMG), has announced changes at blockchain technology firm, TRUTH, which is one of its incubator companies. The changes at TRUTH include a new CEO and plans to arrange additional funding.

Redx Pharma PLC (LON:REDX), the drug development company focused on cancer and fibrosis, has announced that the Company's poster, entitled 'ROCK2 inhibitors for the treatment of chronic kidney disease' will be presented at the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) Kidney Week 2018 in San Diego, CA, on 25 October 2018 from 10:00am to 12:00pm.

6.35am: Modest gain predicted

The FTSE 100 index is seen edging higher on Monday, consolidating last Friday’s gains as Asian markets pared early falls made following mixed performances from US markets on Friday, while the pound rallied slightly against the dollar.

Spread betting firm IG expects the blue-chip index to open around 5 points higher at 7,054, having added 22.81 points on Friday.

Pre-weekend on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 64.89 points higher at 25,444, boosted by some well-received corporate news from the likes of Proctor & Gamble and PayPal, with the US earnings season set to reach a peak this week.

But the broader S&P 500 index closed lower for the tenth time in 12 trading sessions, albeit by just a point, while the tech-laden Nasdaq Composite fell 0.5% on Friday.

Asian markets were also mixed on Monday but saw earlier losses pared as Chinese stocks rallied amid economic stimulus hopes, although worries over trade wars, Saudi Arabia, Italy and Brexit impacts kept the mood subdued.

Japan’s Nikkei index was down 0.2%, having lost 1% earlier, while Shanghai blue chips gained 3.5%.

On currency markets, sterling edged higher against a weaker dollar but was still lower versus the euro amid worries over crucial Brexit negotiations, with little important UK economic data due this week until Thursday’s GDP growth numbers.

A poll from Reuters at the weekend showed the 2019 global growth outlook has dimmed for the first time.

Banks to come; Ryanair the focus

On the corporate front, banks will be firmly on investors’ minds in the coming week, with third quarter updates due from a trio of leading High Street players, kicking off with Barclays PLC (LON:BARC) on Wednesday.

Monday’s diary is fairly sparse though, with the main focus to be on numbers from Irish budget airline Ryanair PLC (LON:RYA), with the dual London and Dublin-listed firm’s interims expected to reflect fuel cost headwinds.

UBS expects Ryanair to report second-quarter 2018 sales of €2.665bn, up from €2.515bn a year earlier, but with net income falling to €846mln, down from €895mln at the same stage in 2017.

The company recently provided a trading update, so the Swiss bank expects the focus to be on more details from the airline’s union negotiation progress and on ancillary revenue growth.

Significant announcements expected on Monday October 22:

Interims: Ryanair PLC (LON:RYA)

Trading update: PCF Group PLC (LON:PCF)

Economic data: Chicago Fed National Activity index

Around the markets:

  • Sterling: US$1.3037, up 0.2%
  • Gold: US$1,225.30, an ounce, unchanged
  • Brent crude: US$80.01 a barrel, up 0.2%

City Headlines:

  • Ryanair warns fares to remain soft as summer profit falls 7% - Reuters
  • Lloyds Banking Group is preparing to buy back nearly £2bn of its own shares next year, in a sign of the lender’s confidence in its business – Financial Times
  • KKR-backed Calsonic to buy Fiat Chrysler's Magneti Marelli unit for US$7.1bn - Reuters
  • General Electric and Siemens have joined hands for large power generation deals in Iraq – Financial Times
  • Goldman Sachs’ two most senior Asia Pacific investment bankers Andrea Vella and Kate Richdale are quitting their management roles – Financial Times
  • Sears chairman Lampert seeks partner for bankruptcy financing: sources – Reuters
  • Philip Hammond is set to increase the tax paid by offshore gambling companies in his Budget later this month – Financial Times
  • More than 40 MPs might revolt against Theresa May if she does not bow to fresh demands from Brexiteers in the next 48 hours. – The Times
  • Embattled retailers issued eight profit warnings in the past three months, according to EY, the joint highest third-quarter figure since the credit crunch - Daily Telegraph
  • Baroness Vadera, the chairwoman of Santander UK, has been lined up to lead a government-backed review into the future of auditing in Britain – The Times
  • A debt downgrade by the ratings agency Moody’s could send the value of Italian bank reserves plummeting amid growing fears that the lenders face a black hole in their finances – The Guardian
  • Rail profits have plummeted 80%, as operators grapple with spiralling costs and crippling contract write-downs – Daily Telegraph
  • Addison Lee, the private-hire taxi business, and Oxbotica, an autonomous vehicle software company, are planning to put self-driving taxis on London’s streets in three years’ time – Daily Telegraph

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