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FTSE 100 Live 18 April: Blue-chips close up 0.4% after late rally, $1.4bn Hipgnosis deal

FTSE 100 Live (Evening Standard)
FTSE 100 Live (Evening Standard)

The FTSE 100 its trading higher today, with easyJet among the risers after its winter trading update.

Retailer Dunelm, estate agent Foxtons and investment platform AJ Bell are among other companies with updates.

Meanwhile, Hipgnosis Songs Fund has agreed a $1.4 billion sale to American music rights owner Concorn.

FTSE 100 Live Thursday

  • EasyJet shares rise on winter update

  • Hipgnosis Songs Fund agrees $1.4bn sale

  • Dunelm shares lower after update

Retail sales tomorrow

Thursday 18 April 2024 17:07 , Daniel O'Boyle

UK retail sales will be in focus tomorrow, with economists expecting a 0.3% rise, the third increase in a row after December’s shock plunge

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Economics

7am - Retail sales from the ONS (March)Deloitte Consumer TrackerJapan inflation (March)

FTSE 100 closes at 7,877.05

Thursday 18 April 2024 16:37 , Daniel O'Boyle

The FTSE 100 closed up 0.4% at 7,877.05 today, rallying late after its initial early gains faded.

Big risers included airline stocks EasyJet and IAG. Royal Mail owner IDS was among the fallers after surging on a takeover bid yesterday.

City Voices: Nationwide's deal for Virgin Money must be stopped

Thursday 18 April 2024 16:16 , Daniel O'Boyle

Nationwide is one of the biggest lenders in the country. Its board and management is trying to rush through a deal to that is likely to line billionaire Richard Branson’s and other Virgin Money shareholders pockets, ignoring whether that might jeopardise their own customers being able to make mortgage payments and keep their homes in the future.

Nationwide is one of the safest lenders in the UK, it provides 1 in every 10 mortgages and offers some of the best deals. It doesn’t have shareholders as it is a building society, not a bank - in fact if you’re a customer, you are actually an owner of the society through your membership. It is also a rare voice in the UK for not closing branches.

Read more here

Coventry Building Society agrees potential takeover of Co-op Bank for £780m

Thursday 18 April 2024 15:44 , Daniel O'Boyle

Coventry Building Society has agreed a potential takeover of rival high street lender The Co-operative Bank for up to £780 million, the companies have announced.

The two groups have been in discussions over a possible merger for several months.

A deal would create a combined group with a balance sheet of £89 billion, making it a bigger player in the mortgages and savings market.

Read more here

Key court case could disrupt Nationwide's takeover of Virgin Money

Thursday 18 April 2024 14:14 , Daniel O'Boyle

There’s an interesting court case tomorrow (Friday) at London’s Commercial Court, the Rolls Building, Mr Justice Meade presiding.

The case could put a spanner in the works of Nationwide Building Society’s £2.9 billion takeover of Virgin Money, or at least delay it long enough for Nationwide members who just hate this deal in the first place to get their act together

One box that has to be ticked is for 75% of Virgin Money shareholders to give it approval.

At issue is whether Richard Branson’s Virgin Group counts as an ordinary shareholder.

Read more here

Rishi Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty handed another £10.5m dividend — enough to buy 116,000 pairs of Adidas Sambas

Thursday 18 April 2024 13:14 , Daniel O'Boyle

Rishi Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty will pocket another £10.5 million in dividends today, enough to buy the Prime Minister more than 116,000 pairs of Adidas Sambas, from the Indian tech giant in whihh she owns a stake.

Murty owns a 0.94% stake in the Indian tech outsourcer Infosys, which was founded by her father N. R. Narayana Murthy. Today, the firm declared a 20 ruppee per share regular dividend plus an additional 8 ruppee special dividend as it announced its 2023 results.

The firm’s revenue came to 379 billion rupees in the fourth quarter of 2024, but its margins disappointed investors.

Read more here

City Voices: The Bank of England could cut interest rates before the Fed — here's why

Thursday 18 April 2024 13:08 , Daniel O'Boyle

George Lagarias explains the differences between the UK and US on inflation

Inflation is an idiosyncratic beast. Almost as much as the consumer.

In 2013 I moved from Athens to London. At the time, the average salary in Athens was about half of that in London. In my first British job, I heard some colleagues complain about how carrot cakes had picked up by 10p. I couldn’t, for the life of me, understand why one of the most affluent societies in Europe would pinch pennies around the price of a cake. In Greece, such a conversation would have been humiliating. We paid what was asked, or risked appearing poor, and we fought over who gets to grab the bill (some insights there on the Greek default).

Then I went to a Tesco. Everything was much cheaper, even if we accounted for the currency difference. In Athens, the introduction of the Euro saw prices nearly triple. UK consumers, it appeared, were much more conservative, and that influenced product prices.

Read more here

Deliveroo sees weaker UK trading as consumer spending remains ‘uncertain’

Thursday 18 April 2024 12:10 , Daniel O'Boyle

Takeaway giant Deliveroo has revealed weaker trading across the UK and Ireland at the start of the year against an “uncertain” consumer backdrop.

The group said UK and Ireland order numbers remained flat in the first quarter at 39.7 million, having risen by 1% in the previous three months.

Sales by gross transaction value (GTV) – a key measure for the sector – rose by 6% across the region, down from growth of 7% in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Read more here

One in 10 people has less than £25 left each month after bills, survey finds

Thursday 18 April 2024 11:50 , Daniel O'Boyle

One in 10 (10%) people say they typically end up with less than £25 left in their current account at the end of each month after paying bills, according to a survey.

Nearly two-fifths (38%) of people have less than £100 left at the end of each month and three-quarters (75%) have less than £500, polling company Censuswide found.

The research indicated that people in Brighton (22%), Belfast (12%), and Glasgow (12%) were particularly likely to have nothing left at the end of each month, compared with 8% of people in London and 5% in Cardiff.

Read more here

Market snapshot: FTSE 100 up

Thursday 18 April 2024 11:12 , Daniel O'Boyle

The FTSE 100 is a little higher, with airlines leading the way

Check out our latest market snapshot

Markets steady but Dunelm and Rentokil Initial lower, Deliveroo up 6%

Thursday 18 April 2024 10:21 , Graeme Evans

Dunelm shares fell 50p to 1024p at one point today as it said softer levels of demand in the run-up to Easter left sales 3% higher at £435 million in the quarter to 30 March.

Dunelm called it a resilient result, adding that it continued to grow market share at a time when consumers have been more cautious about their spending.

Broker Peel Hunt trimmed its 2024 profit estimate by £4 million to £197 million but kept its price target at 1375p as Dunelm looks well positioned for when conditions recover.

Dunelm was joined on the FTSE 250 fallers board by Royal Mail owner IDS, down 14.2p to 262.3p after yesterday’s surge on details of the 320p-a-share takeover approach by Daniel Kretinsky’s EP Group.

Overall, the FTSE 250 added 88.51 points to 19,428.65 in a session of calmer trading after the interest rate jitters earlier in the week.

The FTSE 100 index improved 0.5% or 36.53 points to 7,884.52, with lenders NatWest and Lloyds Banking Group among those offering support.

National Grid rose 19p to 1032p after upgrading earnings guidance but Rentokil Initial remained under pressure despite reporting it has stabilised its performance in North America.

Shares in the pest control and hygiene services firm fell 12.2p to 434.7p, leaving them more than 25% lower over the past year.

In other updates, Deliveroo shares jumped 6% or 7.8p to 129p after reporting a return to order growth in the first quarter.

BP’s new boss trims leadership team amid shake-up

Thursday 18 April 2024 10:09 , Daniel O'Boyle

Oil giant BP has revealed plans to reduce its team of top bosses amid a shake-up to simplify its structure led by new chief executive Murray Auchincloss.

The group is reducing its executive director leadership team to 10 from 11 after a move to axe the regions, corporates and solutions division – which will instead be merged within its other businesses.

William Lin – who previously headed the regions, corporates and solutions division – will become head of the gas and low carbon energy business.

Read more here

Hipgnosis deal likely spells the end for Mercuriadis

Thursday 18 April 2024 08:47 , Daniel O'Boyle

Today’s Hipgnosis deal means it appears to be the end of the road for music mogul Merck Mercuriadis’ role in managing the famous songs fund, as the deal includes a $25 million bonus if the fund can cancel its agreement with his business Hipgnosis Songs Management.

Commenting on the Acquisition, Robert Naylor, Chairman of Hipgnosis said: “We would now encourage Hipgnosis Song Management, the Company’s Investment Adviser and Blackstone, which is HSM’s majority owner, through funds they manage and/or advise, to agree an orderly termination of the Investment Advisory Agreement. This would enable the payment of a larger consideration under the agreed transaction with Concord and bring to an end a period of uncertainty for all Hipgnosis stakeholders.”

Read more here

Airlines lead stronger FTSE 100, Dunelm and Royal Mail owner fall in FTSE 250

Thursday 18 April 2024 08:34 , Graeme Evans

Shares in easyJet are up 3% or 16.4p to 534.6p after its winter losses came in below City expectations and the airline forecast a strong summer.

British Airways owner IAG benefited from the update as its shares rallied 4.75p to 165.45p.

The FTSE 100 rose 41.94 points to 7889.73, with National Grid 26p stronger at 1039p after a trading update and Lloyds Banking Group and NatWest also up by about 1.5%.

On the fallers board, Rentokil Initial shares remain under pressure despite posting an in-line trading update. The pest control firm fell 4% or 15.8p to 431.1p, extending losses for the past year to 28%.

The FTSE 250 index is 12.22 points higher at 19,352.36, with AJ Bell up 15p to 310p following its better-than-expected update.

Retailer Dunelm lost 5% or 54p to 1020p after an otherwise robust update referred to softer levels of demand in March.

Royal Mail owner IDS fell 9p to 267p after surging yesterday on the back of the 320p-a-share takeover approach by Daniel Kretinsky’s EP Group.

AJ Bell customers shrug off stock market turmoil

Thursday 18 April 2024 08:00 , Simon English

AJ Bell defies stock market jitters as assets jump 17% in last year to £80 billion. Customer numbers up 8% to 165,000.

CEO Michael Summersgill said: “We saw strong momentum in the run up to the tax year end as improving retail investor sentiment, together with continued investment in our brand and propositions, helped to deliver £1.4 billion of gross inflows in March alone, a new monthly record for the business.”

Dunelm 'managing' increased costs in the Red Sea and margins improve as markets remain 'challenging'

Thursday 18 April 2024 07:56 , Michael Hunter

Homewares chain Dunelm said today there were signs that the pressure on household spending is starting to improve, as it reported a rise in quarterly revenue.

It said “the outlook for UK consumers may be easing in some areas” as total sales increased by 3% to £435 million.

Margins were also improving, despite higher costs relating to disruption in the Middle East.

“We are managing the ongoing impact of Red Sea surcharges, and despite this, we now expect full year gross margin to be ahead of previous guidance,” the 180-shop chain said.

Nonetheless, it described its makrkets as “challenging”, with trading conditions remaining “volatile”. It said “March in particular” had “softer levels of demand”.

EasyJet hit by heavy losses for winter, but summer looks strong

Thursday 18 April 2024 07:49 , Simon English

Easyjet will make losses of between £340 million and £360 million for the last six months, of which £40 million is directly down to the Middle East conflict.

But it thinks summer bookings are looking good and those “seasonal” losses are not as bad as the market feared.

Easter demand was especially strong.

Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet, said:

“The importance that consumers place on travel coupled with easyJet’s trusted brand has driven good demand for our flights and holidays. Our growth and focus on productivity have reduced winter losses by more than £50 million.

“We have further enhanced our network with the launch of new bases in Alicante and Birmingham providing greater choice for consumers across Europe.”

Flights to Israel are presently suspended.

Thursday 18 April 2024 07:18 , Daniel O'Boyle

Hipgnosis Songs Fund has agreed a $1.4 billion sale to American music rights owner Concorn, in a deal that would effectively end the era of UK-listed music funds.

Hipgnosis, which owns the rights to songs by artists like Beyonce and Shakira, floated in 2018 but after some early successes, has struggled of late to get the vauations it had hoped for in public markets. Last year, following a series of mishaps and an unpopular sale of part of its portfolio to a fund co-owned by its investment manager, Hipgnosis Songs Management, shareholders voted to wind the fund up.

The deal will add thousands more songs to Concord’s portfolio, which already includes big names like Pink Floyd and Daft Punk and an eclectic a mix of artists from Igor Stravinsky to Kano.

Concord bought Hipgnosis rival Round Hill last year.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Markets steady after US technology sell-off, Brent Crude at $87

Thursday 18 April 2024 07:15 , Graeme Evans

Technology stocks were the focus of more Wall Street selling last night as the S&P 500 index closed 0.6% lower and the Nasdaq fell 1.1%.

Among the Magnificent Seven, semiconductor firm Nvidia lost 4% and Meta Platforms 1% as US interest rate cuts moved further into the distance.

Today’s session should be better, with futures trading pointing to a US recovery and IG index calling the FTSE 100 index 30 points higher at 7878.

There’s also encouragement on the inflation front after this week’s softening in the price of oil, with Brent Crude today trading at $87.46.

Asia markets were also in positive territory overnight, led by a rise of 1.1% for Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index.

Good morning - FTSE 100 Live

Thursday 18 April 2024 07:00 , Daniel O'Boyle

Good morning from the City desk of the Evening Standard.

At every London Mayoral election since the post was created by Tony Blair in 2000 there has been a candidates hustings organised by leading business groups.

It is a chance for pretenders to the most important directly elected post in Britain to lay out their stall on how to help bring growth and prosperity to the capital — and the UK as a whole. This campaign’s business hustings was scheduled to take place yesterday morning.

But it did not happen. The main candidates, the Tories’ Susan Hall and Labour’s Sadiq Khan pulled out, leaving organisers with no choice but to scrap the event. To rate the reaction as “disappointment” would be to hugely underplay the sense of frustration and dismay among many of London’s business leaders due to attend.

Although the Mayor has little direct input into economic policy, the occupant of City Hall can influence the business climate in which companies have to operate.

It is simply unacceptable that those whose lead these businesses did not get the chance to hear what the next four years of the Mayoralty could bring. Since the last Mayoral election in 2021, London business has faced a barrage of challenges on a scale not seen for decades.

As well as the lingering effects of the pandemic lockdowns, there has been the cost of living crisis, the energy shock and myriad other higher costs, labour shortages, and the loss of VAT-free shopping. Business are also concerned about levels of crime and the shortage of affordable housing for employees.

All these issues and more could have been aired at what would have been an illuminating hustings.

Here’s the rest of yesterday’s top stories:

  • Inflation falls to two and a half year low of 3.2% - but June rate cut remains on a knife edge

  • House prices 9.30am

  • Asos makes £270 million loss as it continues to struggle with stovk mountain and appoints new CFO 

  • Olympia developer ties up with At the Wharf operator Incipio to run bars and restaurants at th £1.3 bn development

  • Liontrust sees net outflows of £1.2 billion and says UK shares as “out of favour”

  • Outernet, Lord’s and Tottenham Hotspurs stadium steel Severfield sees sales and profits ahead of expectations

  • Saga makes another huge loss amid “challenging conditions” in insurance market

  • Spirent changes its bid recommendation to back higher Keysight offer