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What to Watch: Boohoo Black Friday, Cineworld warning, Just Eat battle

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
Boohoo cited a strong Black Friday weekend in a brief statement on Tuesday. Photo: Dana Pleasant/Getty Images for boohoo.com

Here are the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and abroad:

European stocks steady as US preps $2.4bn of tariffs on French goods

European stocks climbed on the whole on Tuesday even after the US threatened to impose $2.4bn (£1.85bn) worth of tariffs on French exports in retaliation for France’s new digital services tax.

A top US trade official said that the new tax unfairly targets American tech companies.

The Office of US Trade Representative released a list of the items that face tariffs at rates up to 100% — which include make-up, cheese, and handbags.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index (^STOXX) was up by more than 0.3%,

The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) fell by more than 1%, largely driven by domestic woes. Germany’s DAX (^GDAXI) was up nearly 0.9%, while France’s CAC 40 (^FCHI) was hovering.

The pound was up 0.3% against the dollar (GBPUSD=X) and up 0.4% against the euro (GBPEUR=X), at around $1.298 and €1.17, respectively.

Boohoo benefits from “record performance” on Black Friday weekend

Boohoo (BOO.L) on Tuesday hailed “strong” sales since the end of August, in particular citing what it called a “record performance” on the Black Friday weekend.

The company said it is “comfortably in line” with forecasts for the rest of the year, having posted a 43% jump in revenues in the six months to the end of August.

It noted that its recently acquired brands — Karen Millen, Coast and MissPap — have all been “successfully integrated” onto its platform.

In a brief update to the London Stock Exchange, Boohoo said: “Boohoo group is pleased to confirm that since its half-year end, trading has remained strong across its key brands with a record performance across the Black Friday weekend.”

Blockbuster film delays prompt Cineworld warning

Cineworld (CINE.L) on Tuesday warned that full-year revenues would come in “slightly below” expectations, in part blaming the delayed release of some “highly anticipated” blockbuster films.

The group, which is one of the world’s largest cinema firms, had already flagged that box office performance in 2019 would be “slower” than the comparable period last year.

But it said on Tuesday that revenue would come in even lower than management had expected.

“As anticipated, the box office performance for the reported period was slower than the comparative period in 2018 reflecting the phasing of major releases and postponement of some highly anticipated movies to 2020,” Cineworld said.

Revenue from 1 January to 1 December fell 9.7%, Cineworld noted, with US revenue falling by almost 11%. This was mainly driven by a nearly 13% fall in box office revenues.

Takeaway.com accuses rival Just Eat bidder of 'scaremongering'

Takeaway.com (TKWY.AS) on Tuesday accused rival bidder Prosus of “scaremongering” in an attempt to convince shareholders to accept its “low-ball cash offer” for food delivery firm Just Eat (JE.L).

Prosus (PRX.AS), which is owned by South Africa’s Naspers, last month said that Takeaway.com’s offer for Just Eat took a “narrow view” of the food delivery sector, suggesting that a tie-up with the Dutch giant would represent a “significant risk” for shareholders.

In July, Just Eat and Takeaway.com agreed in principle to a merger that would create a £9bn food delivery giant to rival Uber Eats.

But Prosus, the European arm of technology investment firm Naspers, gatecrashed the bid with a hostile takeover attempt, and has continually pressed ahead with its offer, even as Just Eat’s board has unanimously recommended that shareholders accept the one from Takeaway.com.

“Prosus has made a number of claims over the last few weeks in an attempt to make its highly opportunistic cash offer for Just Eat appear more attractive,” said Jitse Groen, the CEO of Takeaway.com, on Tuesday.

'Downhill course' for construction sector continues

The UK’s construction sector continued to shrink in November, according to a closely watched private sector survey published Tuesday.

IHS Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS)’s construction purchasing managers index (PMI) for November registered at 45.3. Economists had been forecasting a reading of 44.5.

PMIs measure planning among businesses and are closely watched as a sign of business activity. The readings register on a scale of 1 to 100, with anything above 50 signalling growth in activity and anything below signalling contraction.

While November’s PMI marked an improvement from the 44.2 recorded in October and came in above forecasts, the result means the sector is continuing to contract.

What to expect in the US

Futures are pointing to a lower open for US stocks.

S&P 500 futures (ES=F) are down 0.28%. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures (YM=F) are down 0.31% and Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) are down 0.39%.