FTSE 100 extends run, Pets at Home 4% lower
The recent improvement for the FTSE 100 index has continued after London’s top flight rose another 0.6% or 42.91 points to 7496.75.
The performance was led by mining giant Glencore after upgrades to price targets by analysts at Deutsche Bank and Bernstein sent shares 3% or 17.1p higher to 532p.
BP also offered support for the second session in a row, lifting 6.7p to 494.7p, but United Utilities dropped 1.5% after its interim results.
The FTSE 250 index fell 41.97 points to 19,380.40 in a busy session for mid-cap results.
Updates from Britvic, engineering firm Rotork and electronics business discoverIE sent their shares 3% higher but Johnson Matthey and Pets at Home weakened 5% and 4% respectively.
Johnson Matthey shares lower after inflation and supply chain woes hit profits
Shares in Johnson Matthey fell in early trade after the chemicals company’s profits slipped, hit by inflation and supply chain constraints.
The FTSE 250 chemicals company reported interim profit of £222 million, down from £297 million a year ago. Revenue fell 14% to £7.3 billion.
Supply chain problems took a toll on its business making catalytic converters, which clean up emissons from cars, due to Covid restrictions in China . There was also disruption from shortages of semiconductor chips, while it also cited the war in Ukraine as a source of “disruption”.
The stock was down 61p to 1985p, a drop of around 3%,
Applied Graphene Materials seeks funding to stay in business beyond January
AIM-listed Applied Graphene Materials has put itself up for sale and warned that a “strategic review” of its business could end in job losses as it seeks to raise cash in order to keep going beyond the end of January.
The company confirmed it would not be raising capital by issuing fresh equity, but said it was considering options including funding “from a debt specialist provider or strategic investor” and the sale of its “trade and assets”.
Graphene is a potentially revolutionary material consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms which has long been thought to have a range of potential applications. But companies investing in the discovery, made at the University of Manchester, have struggled to find profitable ways to exploit it.
Britvic profits surge as it ramps up capacity to meet demand
Drinks maker Britvic is ramping up production capacity in the UK, Brazil and France to meet growing demand after it posted a surge in profits.
In Great Britain, the business added an additional can line in Rugby, in addition to the three lines installed as part of our Business Capability Programme completed in
2019. It is also upgrading the National Distribution Centre to ensure it is well placed for future growth and to deliver improved efficiency.
The firm posted revenue of £1.6 billion for the year to September, up 15%, while profit after tax gew 45% to £140 million.
United Utilities backs call for national social tariff as revenue and profits fall
United Utilities has added its voice to industry calls for a national social tariff to help hard-pressed consumers with their bills and avoid a “postcode lottery” when it comes to support.
The FTSE 250 water company also reported a drop in revenue and profit in the six months to the end of September. Underlying operating profit fell to just under £260 million from over £332 millon a year earlier, from revenue of just over £919 million, down from £932 million.
Steve Mogford, Chief Executive Officer, said: “We believe that affordability support should not be a postcode lottery, which is why we are a strong supporter of the Consumer Council for Water’s proposal for a national social tariff to help households with their water bills.”
US economy in focus, FTSE 100 set to open higher
With US markets closed tomorrow for the Thanksgiving holiday and due to shut early on Friday, there are more economic updates than usual today.
These include weekly jobless claims and figures on new home sales, as well as the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s most recent policy meeting.
Much has happened since the Fed hiked rates as expected by 0.75%, with a lower-than-expected inflation print offsetting chair Jerome Powell’s earlier insistence that it was still too early to be talking about a policy pivot.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 8% in the past month, including a rise of more than 1% last night. The FTSE 100 index is also at its highest level since mid-September, despite concerns about a fresh round of Covid restrictions affecting China’s economy.
The FTSE 100 is expected to open 14 points higher at 7,466, according to CMC Markets.
Halfords creates 1,000 new roles after revenue soars
Halfords is to recruit 1,000 new mechanics to meet surging demand after it reported booming revenue.
The company said its new recruitment programme will be aimed at over-50s and retirees in a bid to bring older skilled workers back into the labour market.
The firm reported sales growth of 31% in the 6 months to September to £766 million, while pre-tax profits gew 2% to £29 million.
Graham Stapleton, Halfords CEO, says he wants to use the opportunity created by a boom in demand to rewire the company’s workforce.
“We have a big focus on people who left the workforce in recent years but are now starting to return in these tough economic times,” he said. “We want to give people the best possible route to return to work. Becoming a qualified automotive technician can be an incredibly satisfying second career.”