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FTSE 100 Live 4 April: Index closes up 0.5%, close to record territory again, US shares plunge late in day

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

Commodity price strength today helped to underpin the FTSE 100 index during a strong session for mining stocks.

The gains came after Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell signalled that US interest rates are likely to fall this year.

But after London markets closed, shares on Wall Street plummeted, with the effects likely to be felt in the City when trading opens tomorrow morning.

In other developments, shares in Go Compare owner Future and newly-listed CAB Payments rose sharply after their respective updates.

FTSE 100 Live Thursday

  • Co-op active membership hits 5m

  • Rates outlook boosts gold price

  • Future shares jump on revenues growth

US shares plunge after London close

Thursday 4 April 2024 20:39 , Daniel O'Boyle

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US shares plunged in afternoon trading, with the S&P 500 losing almost 2% in a couple of hours.

It is now down 1% for the day at 5150, having been up by close to that margin earlier.

The American top flight index was close to record territory, only to slide following a speech from the Richmond Fed chair that suggested ‘higher for longer’ was still the plan.

The Dow Jones is down 1.3% for the day at 38,616.92. The Nasdaq, which had been up 1.2%, is now down by the same margin at 16,082.83.

Halifax HPI on quiet day tomorrow

Thursday 4 April 2024 16:54 , Daniel O'Boyle

On another quiet day, we’ll find out tomorrow if Halifax’s house price index shows property values continuing to rise in March.

Here’s tomorrow’s full schedule:

Results

None scheduled

Economics

Halifax House Price IndexUS employmentCanada employment

FTSE 100 closes up 0.5% at 7,975.89

Thursday 4 April 2024 16:37 , Daniel O'Boyle

Record territory could be in sight tomorrow for the FTSE 100, after it closed up 0.45% at 7,975.89 today.

London’s top flight finished within 40 points of a new record close, and within 70 of the intraday record.

Entain and mining stocks led the risers. Ocado and St James’s Place were the biggest fallers.

Chinese state-owned banks among lenders Thames Water owes money to – reports

Thursday 4 April 2024 16:26 , Daniel O'Boyle

Two Chinese state-owned banks and Dutch bank ING are among a group of lenders who could play an important role in the stability of Thames Water, as its funding crisis deepens, according to new reports.

The banks are owed £190 million from a loan given to the water giant’s parent company, Kemble Water Finance, which expires at the end of the month.

The deadline could be extended after Thames Water said it would not be able to repay it.

ING, Bank of China, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and Allied Irish Banks are among the lenders behind the loan, according to new information reported by Sky News and the Financial Times.

Read more here

SME Expo: ‘If you have something you’re passionate about and see a gap in the market, go for it’

Thursday 4 April 2024 16:18

When anyone asks me the best time to start a business,” says Charlie Bigham, “I have one answer — and it’s been the same answer for my past 27 years as an entrepreneur. The best time to start a business is right now. Otherwise, you’ll always find an excuse.”

Bigham should know: having launched his eponymous upmarket ready meals business back in 1995 with a Caribbean lamb dish whipped up in his home kitchen, he now sells £150 million worth of meals every year from his Park Royal headquarters.

Today, Bigham is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs — and that’s why he’ll be joining 50 business tycoons and investors in sharing their knowledge at SME XPO, the Evening Standard’s upcoming event for ambitious founders and decision-makers.

Read more here

Gilt attracts more cash than any other investment as ISA deadline approaches

Thursday 4 April 2024 15:34 , Daniel O'Boyle

The single most popular investment in the UK as the ISA deadline approaches is a not a fund or a single stock but a gilt, according to Interactive Investor.

UK gilts, or Government bonds, have remained the most popular asset for the 10th consecutive month, even as declining yields mean the returns are not as strong as they may have been in the second half of 2023.

The TN25 gilt, due in January 2025, was the top asset in terms of net flows, while T26 and TG24 were not far behind.

Read more here

Watchdog eyes sport spread betting merger for potential monopoly

Thursday 4 April 2024 15:00 , Daniel O'Boyle

The Competition and Markets Authority is scrutinising the impact of deal struck in the sports betting industry, amid concern that it may have created a monopoly.

Popular odds-offeror Spreadex bought the consumer-facing business of its rival,Sporting Index, last year. The acquisition brought together two companies that provide sophisticated spread-betting options to gamblers testing their knowledge of a range of sports against a range of markets.

They also provide regular online odds-based betting.

Read more here

US shares jump near record on opening

Thursday 4 April 2024 14:47 , Daniel O'Boyle

US shares have jumped as trading opens on Wall Street, with the S&P 500 close to record territory again.

The US top-flight index is up 0.8% to 5,249.65. Meanwhile the Dow Jones is up 0.5% to 39,336.39. The Nasdaq is up 0.9% to 16,426.41, and is now up more than 11% for the year.

Potential DS Smith bidder would keep London HQ and list shares in the City

Thursday 4 April 2024 14:28 , Daniel O'Boyle

The US company eyeing a multibillion-pound takeover battle for one of Britain’s biggest packaging companies has said that it would establish a European headquarters in London and seek to list its shares in the City.

International Paper said that if it is successful with a potential bid for DS Smith it would keep the company’s existing headquarters.

It said that “key elements” of the functions at DS Smith’s London office would be maintained, subject to “consultation with impacted employees”.

Read more here

FTSE 100 within 40 points of record

Thursday 4 April 2024 14:11 , Daniel O'Boyle

Ahead of US markets opening, the FTSE 100 is less than 40 points away from a record close.

London’s top flight sits at 7,977.20, not far from the February 2023 record close of 8012. The intraday high, of 8047, still seems unlikely.

Entain leads the risers after announcing Stella David as its next chair, while mining stocks continue to perform well.

Competition watchdog says HRT drug deal could raise prices

Thursday 4 April 2024 13:49 , Daniel O'Boyle

The competition watchdog has found that women needing hormone replacement therapy (HRT) might see higher prices if a deal between two businesses is allowed to go ahead.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said that an initial investigation had found that the plan for Theramex to buy the European rights to two drugs could reduce competition.

Last year, the London-based women’s health company said it would buy the rights to Duphaston and Femoston HRT from US company Viatris.

Read more here

Co-op warns shop crime has ‘consequences’ as incidents hit record high

Thursday 4 April 2024 13:08 , Daniel O'Boyle

The Co-op saw the highest ever levels of shoplifting last year, with more than 100 shop workers facing abuse from criminals every day, the retailer has revealed.

The group revealed the scale of the issue in its annual report, which also showed a slump in its yearly profit after selling its petrol stations to Asda.

Co-op said the level of retail crime incidents soared by 44% in 2023 compared with 2022.

Read more here

City Comment: Hope for the best for Superdry, or it’ll be swallowed up by Frasers

Thursday 4 April 2024 12:11 , Simon English

For the unfashionable over-50 crowd who like Superdry clobber the idea that it might disappear altogether seems more than a shame.

No one is mistaking me for a clothes horse, but it does nice fitting chinos and jackets that are smart enough to work anywhere.

When Superdry floated on the stock market in 2010 at 500p it was valued at £395 million, it had no debt, and co-founder Julian Dunkerton banked £80 million and had stock then worth another £130 million.

Read more here

FTSE 100 rises on stronger commodity stocks, Lloyds and Barclays higher

Thursday 4 April 2024 11:29 , Graeme Evans

Gold’s rise to a record $2300 an ounce and the strength of other commodities today underpinned the FTSE 100 index, with the top flight up 0.4% or 29.05 points to 7966.49.

Fresnillo, one of Mexico’s largest gold producers, led the way as shares added another 16p to extend gains since mid-March to more than 20% at 540.5p.

A one-year high for the price of copper helped Antofagasta to a fresh record following a gain of 2% or 45p to 2145p, while Anglo American added 43p to 2091p as Deutsche Bank retained its “Buy” recommendation.

Elsewhere in the top flight, banking stocks were in demand as Barclays rose 3.5p to 192.1p and Lloyds Banking Group lifted 1.1p to 53.5p.

On the fallers board, packaging group Mondi dropped 35.5p to 1338p after the deadline for takeover talks with target DS Smith was extended to 23 April.

The FTSE 250 index rose 70.48 points to 19,824.12.

In the All-Share, Motorpoint added 1.5p to 135p as the car retailer said the difficult conditions seen last year had eased.

Kiss sell music catalogue and face paint designs to Sweden’s Pophouse for £237m

Thursday 4 April 2024 11:17 , Daniel O'Boyle

US rock band Kiss have sold their music catalogue to the company behind Abba’s hologram concerts.

The group, known for their black and white make up and metallic outfits, have also allowed Pophouse Entertainment Group to buy its trademark and face paint designs.

The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval and reported to be worth around 300 million dollars (£237 million), includes master recordings and publishing rights.

Read more here

Car industry bosses slam Government for lack of switching incentives as personal electric vehicle sales dip

Thursday 4 April 2024 10:55 , Daniel O'Boyle

Car industry bosses today called on the Government to do more to encourage drivers to switch to electric cars, as new figures revealed personal EV sales fell in March.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said the total number of new car registrations in March rose to 317,786, the 20th straight month of growth.

But growth was slower among battery electric vehicles, and only 3.8%, which was driven entirely by commercial fleets. Personal EV sales were slightly down.

Read more here

Entain chair to leave - interim CEO to replace him

Thursday 4 April 2024 10:14 , Daniel O'Boyle

Entain chair Barry Gibson is to step down in September, to be replaced by current interim CEO Stella David.

Gibson has been chair of the Ladbrokes owner since February 2020, working with four different CEOs in four years if David’s time as interim boss is included. During that time, the business grew rapidly in the US and fended off two takeover offers from American firms. It also quit a number of so-called “grey markets” - where the legal status of gambling is unclear - in the wake of a scandal related to its since-closed Turkish arm, which ultimately led to a £585m HMRC settlement.

Gibson said: “It has been a privilege to lead the Board of Entain for the past four years, and while I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at this dynamic, exciting and innovative business, I reflected a little while ago that 2024 would be the right time for me to retire. I am delighted that, in Stella, Entain has an exceptional successor who knows the business well and has already proven herself to be a firm hand on the tiller in her role as Interim CEO.”

David has filled in as Entain’s CEO since December 2023.

Future shares surge as it returns to revenue growth

Thursday 4 April 2024 09:34 , Daniel O'Boyle

Shares in Country Life publisher Future surged today, as it said its revenue grew again in the first three months of 2024.

The growth was mostly driven by Go Compare, while performance of its magazines has been “resilient”. Digital publishing continued to be “challenging” with website users slipping further, but analysts at Peel Hunt said it was on track to see its audience grow again over the next six months.

The growth follows a £25 million investment, focused on getting the most out of its best performing “hero” brands.

The shares rocketed by 14.3% today to 685p. But that still leaves them down 38% over the past year. Peel Hunt said: “The shares continue to look very cheap in our opinion.”

CAB shares soar on new payments license

Thursday 4 April 2024 09:21 , Simon Hunt

London fintech CAB Payments today showed signs of turning a corner on its growth plans following a disastrous IPO after it secured a license to operate in the EU.

The payments license, which was granted by regulators in Amsterdam, allows it to chart a course for major expansion across Europe.

The Sutton-based business saw its shares tumble by more than 70% just weeks after its IPO last year when it warned a slump in demand would see it fail to hit its sales targets.

But CAB shares rose as much as 15% to 127p this morning and are now up by more than 50% since the start of the year.

Bet365 to pay less than CEO's daily pay for money laundering and safer gambling failings

Thursday 4 April 2024 08:51 , Daniel O'Boyle

Gambling giant Bet365 will pay £582,000 - or less than a day's pay for its CEO Denise Coates - after the gambling watchdog found its player protection and money laundering checks were not strong enough.

The Gambling Commission said the bookie failed to perform financial sanctions checks on new customers before their first deposits, and that interactions with customers showing signs of problem gambling were often “not meaningful”. Its executive director Kay Roberts said the failings “may not have been as severe as those at other gambling businesses in recent years but they were failings nonetheless”.

The figure pales in comparison to Coates’ £270 million pay packet. The betting boss, who received a CBE in 2013, recently completed work on her £90 million mansion in Cheshire, which features an artificial lake, stables, a boathouse and separate cottages for staff.

Bet365 chief executive Denise Coates (Alex Severn/Bet365/PA) (PA Archive)
Bet365 chief executive Denise Coates (Alex Severn/Bet365/PA) (PA Archive)

Banks and miners lead FTSE 100 higher, Future shares jump 13%

Thursday 4 April 2024 08:36 , Graeme Evans

A robust showing by mining stocks means the FTSE 100 index is in positive territory, up 13.36 points to 7950.80.

Copper specialist Antofagasta is the best performing blue-chip following a gain of 2% or 36p to 2136p, while Anglo American has lifted 21.5p to 2069.5p after Deutsche Bank lifted its price target to 2700p.

Financial stocks are also in demand after Barclays rose 2.6p to 191.1p, Lloyds Banking Group lifted 0.5p to 52.9p and NatWest added 2.6p to 275.3p.

Smiths Group and hotels group IHG were on the fallers board after their shares began trading without the right to their latest dividend awards.

Packaging group Mondi fell 38p to 1335.5p as the deadline for the completion of takeover talks with target DS Smith was extended to 23 April.

The FTSE 250 index rose 33.23 points to 19,786.87, with Future up 13% or 78.5p to 678p after the Go Compare owner and magazine publisher reported a return to revenues growth in the second quarter.

Ocado chair to exit amid 'time pressure' from NatWest role

Thursday 4 April 2024 08:02 , Daniel O'Boyle

Ocado chair Rick Rick Haythornthwaite will leave the boardroom role early next year, as he says he will face more “pressure on my time” as he takes on the same role at NatWest.

Haythornthwaite was picked to replace Sir Howard Davies as chair of the bank last year, and will take over that role later this month.

He will initially handle two FTSE 100 chairmanships, but said that given the time pressures from this, he will not seek re-election in 2025.

Haythornthwaite said: “Since the announcement of my appointment as group chair of NatWest I have given extensive thought to my workload, listened to all parties and reflected on how I ensure that I deliver effectively on all fronts. With the benefit of time and greater visibility of the expected growth in requirements of the publicly-listed portfolio, it has become evident that pressure on my time is likely to increase over the medium term.

“Given that Ocado has a strong and stable board, a high-quality management team as well as good momentum in business performance, I have made public my intention to step down a year from now to ensure that the company has sufficient time for a measured chair succession.”

Co-Op reaches 5 million active members

Thursday 4 April 2024 07:53 , Michael Hunter

Over 1 million people joined the mutually owned Co-op last year, taking its total membership over 5 million.

Sales at the food retailer were flat overall, largely due to the sale of its petrol forecourt business. Revenue for 2023 slipped to £11.3 billion overall from £11.5 billion.

Underlying operating profit, taking into account the disposal of the petrol business, slipped to £468 million from £473 million. Net debt fell by £240 million after the sale, to £82 million.

Shirine Khoury-Haq, chief executive, said: “Our success in attracting new members has seen us surpass our expectations with new sign ups last year higher than the previous two years combined.”

The Co-op is targeting a membership of 8 million by 2024, in a sign of faith in the mutually owned model. John Lewis and Nationwide have similar structures, which has at times come under pressure in highly competitive markets.

Moody's cuts Thames Water debt rating

Thursday 4 April 2024 07:44 , Simon Hunt

Credit ratings business Moody’s has cut Thames Water’s debt rating to Ca from B3, and downgraded its corporate family rating from Baa2 to Baa3, one step above junk.

Moody’s also revised its outlook for the company from stable to negative.

Thames Water was last week plunged into a funding crisis after its shareholders refused to inject another £500 million into the business, raising speculation that the government would be forced to step in.

A Thames Water employee with a tanker (PA) (PA Wire)
A Thames Water employee with a tanker (PA) (PA Wire)

FTSE 100 seen slightly higher after US rate comments, gold near $2300

Thursday 4 April 2024 07:18 , Graeme Evans

Interest rate comments by Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell failed to alter Wall Street’s mood during yesterday’s flat session for key US benchmarks.

Powell expects rates will fall at some point this year but that policymakers need more evidence that inflation is on a sustainable path back to 2%.

Deutsche Bank reports that investors are continuing to price a 64% chance of a rate cut by June, with 71 basis points of easing seen by the end of the year.

The S&P 500 index and Dow Jones Industrial Average finished barely changed, while IG Index is forecasting a slightly higher session for the FTSE 100 index this morning. London’s top flight closed yesterday up 2.35 points to 7937.44.

The outlook for US rate cuts helped maintain the strong run for gold, with the price of non-interest bearing asset at a fresh record near $2300 an ounce.

Recap: Yesterday's top stories

Thursday 4 April 2024 06:43 , Simon Hunt

Good morning from the Standard City desk.

If you look at a chart of the stock market going back 100 years, it will give you the impression that in the long run, you can’t lose with shares.

Even if you just go back to when the FTSE 100 was established in January 1984 with a base level of 1000, you’ve done well, since it is now just south of 8000 – that’s up around 600%.

That disguises the fact that there are long periods when shares are a dud, when you really would be better off in government bonds or the local building society’s best savings account.

The folk selling you stock market funds don’t tell you that.

In the last five years the FTSE 100 is up just 6%, which compares to a 50% rise in the Dow Jones over the same time.

Excitement about the FTSE perhaps hitting a new high – beating the 8,047 reached last February – is misplaced.

It’s a rather low all-time high and it is partly driven by hope that some big companies will ditch London and move to New York where they might get a higher value.

So that high, when it arrives, shall be partly based on a very low level of optimism about the future for London shares.

-

Here’s a summary of our top headlines from yesterday: