Monday 24 September 2018

Markets make gains as trade fears ease

Reports suggested the US would walk away from plans to impose tariffs on the EU.

The FTSE 100 broke the 7,600 mark (PA)
The FTSE 100 broke the 7,600 mark (PA)

By Helen Cahill, Press Association City Reporter

Markets made gains on Thursday as traders’ fears over a possible trade war eased.

Following threats from Brussels earlier in the week, reports suggested the US would walk away from its plan to slap tariffs on EU car makers.

The FTSE 100 managed to break through the 7,600 mark, ending the day 0.4% or 30.13 points higher at 7,603.22.

On the continent, the Cac 40 in France was up 0.85%, while Germany’s Dax surged 1.19% higher.

In currency markets, sterling was flat against the dollar at 1.322, and was down 0.37% against the euro at 1.130.

Oil prices headed downwards after a report showed an unexpected jump in US oil inventories. Brent crude prices fell by 0.79% to 77.507 US dollars per barrel in afternoon trading.

EasyJet’s shares fell 13p to 1,623p after it revealed that nearly 1,300 flights were cancelled last month, with no end in sight to air traffic control strike action.

The budget airline said it cancelled 1,263 flights in June, with around 900 due to French and Italian strike action and a further 150 caused by air traffic control (ATC) restrictions and poor weather.

Housebuilding giants Persimmon and Bovis Homes have signalled robust conditions in the new-build market as they reported higher first-half sales and prices.

In its half-year trading update, Persimmon posted a 5% rise in revenues to £1.84 billion in the six months to June 30. Shares fell 7p to 2,475p.

Bovis Homes added to the cheer as it said in a trading update posted separately that it is set for a “significant step up” in first-half profits after seeing a better-than-expected 4% rise in legal completions to 1,580.

Bovis shares closed the day 24p lower at 1,098p.

Superdry shares surged 6.33% or 74p to 1,243p as the retailer reported higher sales and its second special shareholder payout in two years, despite tough trading conditions.

The company said group revenue rose to £872 million in the 12 months to April 28 from £752 million a year earlier, aided by a near-30% rise in its wholesale division which entered eight new markets over the period.

Budget fashion chain Primark is on course for higher annual profits as strict stock management and markdowns start to pay off.

Associated British Foods said in a trading update that it expects Primark’s bottom line to grow thanks to higher operating margins. Despite this, shares fell 113p to 2,604p.

Purplebricks’ losses have widened. The group made a pre-tax loss of £26.1 million for the year, up from a £6 million loss the year before.

Revenues for the year ended April 30 soared 101% from £46.7 million to £93.6 million, with UK sales up 81% to £78 million. Shares edged up 0.2p to 318.8p.

Social housing and support services provider Mears Group is calling a meeting with investors after facing demands from an activist shareholder to oust its chairman.

The group confirmed it had received a request on Wednesday from Frankfurt-based Shareholder Value Management, which owns an 8.9% stake in Mears, to remove chairman Bob Holt amid concerns over share price under-performance. Mears’ shares closed 1p higher at 346p.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Evraz up 14.6p to 504.8p, Anglo American up 47.2p to 1,721.6p, Ashtead up 46p to 2,231p, and Glencore up 6.65p to 326.1p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Associated British Foods down 113p to 2,604p, Berkeley Group down 80p to 3,612p, Land Securities down 17.3p to 942.7p and Next down 106p to 5,840p.

Press Association

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