Weaker-than-expected updates from China’s Covid-hit economy today failed to derail recent progress for the London market.
The FTSE 100 index is at its highest level since early June, having risen for four consecutive weeks to above the 7500 threshold.
It opened higher today, even though China’s industrial output and retail sales figures both came in below estimates.
FTSE 100 Live
China economic data disappoints
AstraZeneca shares support FTSE 100
US stocks slide amid disappointing economic data from China
Monday 15 August 2022 14:49 , Simon Hunt
Stocks fell in the opening minutes of trading on Wall Street as investors digested disappointed economic data from China. The S&P 500 fell 0.5% while the Nasdaq slipped back 0.2%.
Energy and financials stocks were among the worst performers, falling 3% and 1% respectively. It comes after news Brent crude oil futures fell by $5 to hit $93.15 a barrel.
This morning, China’s central bank cut interest rates, sparking concerns over the country’s economic recovery after months of periodic lockdowns and coronavirus restrictions.
Portmeirion rescues oils firm AromaWorks
Monday 15 August 2022 13:51 , Simon Hunt
Royal Worcester cookware and ceramics manufacturer Portmeirion has rescued home fragrances specialist AromaWorks London from the jaws of the administrators.
The Stoke-on-Trent based company bought the “vegan and 100% natural” essential oils retailer that has a customer base in the UK and US for the knock down price of £440,000.
AromaWorks, founded by Jane Hibbert, reported unaudited sales of £4.1million and profits of £300,000 last year.
Closing the cash deal means Portmeirion will hold intellectual property inventory and certain fixed assets of the company.
The business will now look to take advantage of synergies between AromaWorks and its own fragrance arm Wax Lyrical.
Portmeirion boss Mike Raybould said: “This gives us a great opportunity to further leverage both our production capabilities and our global sales infrastructure. We expect to deliver on cross-selling opportunities within the first 12 months.”
Joules names ex-John Lewis director Brown as new CEO
Monday 15 August 2022 13:19 , Simon Hunt
High street fashion retailer and Next target Joules has appointed former John Lewis director Jonathon Brown as its CEO, replacing Nick Jones who announced he would step down as boss of the group in May.
Most recently, Brown helmed online comparison website Compare the Market, a role he departed last year.
He will now be tasked with leading the country lifestyle chain as talks continue with fellow high street outlet Next looking to take a stake in the business of up to 25% for £15 million.
Brown has held various senior executive roles at businesses including Schroders, British Airways and Coca-Cola. He said: “Joules is a very strong brand, with a highly relevant purpose and product proposition.”
“Whilst there have been some headwinds in the past year, I am very excited by the business’ future opportunities.”
Non-executive chairman Ian Filby said the board was unanimous on Brown “amongst some very high calibre candidates”. “He has significant experience across the retail and digital industries, a proven track record of delivering business transformation, and the vision and ambition to lead Joules through the next stages of its development.”
Sparkling sales boost shares in Kent-based wine firm Gusbourne
Monday 15 August 2022 12:42 , Simon Hunt
An English sparkling wine producer controlled by former Conservative deputy chair Lord Ashcroft has seen its shares rise after the firm said revenues were set to more than double.
The Kent-based firm said it expects revenues for the first six months of the year to top £3 million after deducting excise duties, a jump of 108% on the previous year, led by strong domestic sales as well as a boost in exports to Norway, Japan and the USA.
Gusbourne chief winemaker, Charlie Holland, said the sales growth “reflects the luxury status and reputation of the Gusbourne brand, the dynamic growth of the English wine sector and the increasing demand for English wines.”
Gusbourne shares rose 4.5% to 67p in early trading.
The company, which makes sparkling Rose and Blanc de Blancs wines also announced it had purchased 137 acres of agricultural land worth £1.6 million from one of its shareholders, Andrew Weeber.
Gusbourne said it had extended its lending facilities by £6 million to support further expansion plans.
Hello Fresh ‘defies e-commerce trend’ as revenues climb
Monday 15 August 2022 12:19 , Simon Hunt
HelloFresh the meal-kit maker popular with London’s urban
professionals has bucked the post-Covid trend for a fall in food deliveries.
For the second financial quarter revenues were up by 16% to €1.96 billion (£1.65 billion) at the German subscription-based business that provides healthy option cooking ingredients and instructions for those pressed for time.
The business also operates in the US, France, Germany and the Netherlands and increased its customer base in the period to eight million from 7.6 million the previous year.
Boss Dominik Richter, said it had defied “e-commerce trends” even with “macroeconomic challenges”.
Phoenix ‘confident’ after £950m record for cash generation
Monday 15 August 2022 11:32 , Simon Hunt
Life assurer Phoenix said it is riding out turbulence in the economy with record cash generation of £950 million in the first half of the year.
The company, which has also made its first cash acquisition, the £248 million purchase of Sun Life of Canada UK, said it was confident of delivering “at the top end” of the expectations range of £1.3 billion to £1.4 billion for the full year.
Long term new cash generation of £430 million was double the level of last year. The interim dividend has been raised 3 per cent to 24.8p with a further 2.5 per cent proposed for the full year. Chief executive Andy Briggs said Phoenix had performed very strongly “despite the challenging macro environment”.
FTSE 100 higher despite China data, Treatt falls 31%
Monday 15 August 2022 10:00 , Graeme Evans
Figures showing China’s slower-than-expected recovery from Covid disruption failed to prevent London shares edging up to a fresh two-month high today.
Industrial production and retail sales figures came in below forecast, prompting the country’s central bank to cut a key interest rate for the first time since January.
The FTSE 100 index found the going tougher but still improved 13.82 points to 7514.71 thanks to heavyweight support from AstraZeneca after shares added nearly 3%.
London’s biggest listed company rallied 276p to 10,988p on the back of positive trial results for breast cancer drug Enhertu.
Astra was only beaten in the FTSE 100 by RS Group, with the industrial equipment supplier previously known as Electrocomponents up another 52p to 1140p as bid speculation continues to swirl.
The company, which was founded as Radiospares in 1937 and joined the top flight in March, has surged from 831p in just over a month. On the fallers board, GSK and Haleon shares were down 2% as litigation fears relating to heartburn treatment Zantac remained.
The FTSE 250 index was 9.27 points higher at 20,348.23, despite a retreat of 19.2p to 407.2p for cyber security firm Darktrace. Electricals retailer Currys edged up 0.15p to 65.25p as broker Liberum highlighted longer-term potential with a 150p target price.
Ingredients firm Treatt slumped 31% or 252p to 551p after the FTSE All-Share stock scaled back profit guidance due to factors including the strong dollar and weaker-than-expected tea consumption in North America.
FTSE 100 opens higher, RS shares up another 4%
Monday 15 August 2022 08:33 , Graeme Evans
The FTSE 100 index has added another 21 points to 7521, with AstraZeneca among the biggest risers after it reported positive trial results for breast cancer drug Enhertu
Astra rose 242p to 10,954p in a session when UK rival GSK’s shares were near their opening mark after last week’s heavy losses.
RS Group, which used to be known as Electrocomponents, was the biggest top flight riser as the recent surge for shares on the back of bid speculation continued. It lifted another 5% or 52p to 1140p.
Other blue-chip stocks on the front foot included British Gas owner Centrica and JD Sports Fashion.
The FTSE 250 edged up 34.65 points to 20,373, with polymers business Synthomer one of the biggest risers after a gain of 2% or 4.2p to 213p.
China updates disappoint, FTSE 100 maintains progress
Monday 15 August 2022 07:52 , Graeme Evans
The FTSE 100 index finished Friday’s session near to its best level since early June after a fourth consecutive weekly gain added another 0.8% to London’s top flight.
The S&P 500 rose by more than 3% last week as Wall Street’s earnings season moved towards its conclusion, with closely-watched figures due this week from consumer-facing Walmart and Target on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.
CMC Markets expects the FTSE 100 to improve by another 40 points at 7541 in today’s session, driven by continued optimism that central banks might not need to be as aggressive as feared about raising rates.
The latest improvement comes despite weaker-than-expected data from China’s economy, with industrial production up by 3.8% on a year-on-year basis rather than the 4.3% expected and retail sales up 2.7% compared with the 4.9% forecast.
The week ahead includes the latest inflation reading from a number of countries including the UK. Deutsche Bank economists expect Wednesday’s headline CPI figure to have risen to 9.8% in July, which would be its fastest pace in four decades and up from 9.4% in June.