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FTSE 100 Live 22 April: Index closes at record high, Asda sales rise, Hipgnosis bid war

FTSE 100 Live 22 April: Index closes at record high, Asda sales rise, Hipgnosis bid war

London’s FTSE 100 index closed at a record high as sentiment shows signs of improvement after Friday’s tech sector sell-off on Wall Street.

Today’s session saw further dealmaking action after FTSE 250-listed Tyman backed a US firm’s takeover worth £788 million.

National Express owner Mobico has posted overdue figures at the start of a busy week for corporate updates, with Barclays and Sainsbury’s among those due to report.

FTSE 100 Live Monday

  • FTSE 100 near record as retailers rally

  • Mid-cap Tyman in US takeover deal

  • Rival bid lifts Hipgnosis shares

'Weaker pound helped FTSE to record close'

Monday 22 April 2024 17:22 , Daniel O'Boyle

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Rachel Winter, Partner at Killik & Co says the FTSE 100’s record high has a lot to do with a weaker pound

She said: "The FTSE 100 has just hit a record closing high of 8023. This is largely due to the weakness of sterling versus the dollar.

“The FTSE contains a large number of big international companies that earn their revenue in dollars and report their profits in sterling. When the dollar strengthens, these companies become more profitable in sterling terms.

“The strength of the dollar is due to sticky inflation in the US, which means that US interest rates will remain higher for longer. Higher US interest rates make dollars more attractive to hold, and so demand for dollars has increased and their price has risen."

Busy day of economic data tomorrow

Monday 22 April 2024 17:14 , Daniel O'Boyle

Here’s what’s on the schedule tomorrow after the FTSE 100 hit a record high today

Results

ABF

Alliance Pharma

Trading updates

Taylor Wimpey

Jupiter Fund Management

Ferrexpo

Anglo American

US results

Tesla

GM

Alphabet

McDonald’s

Economics

930am – UK PMI (April)

ONS public sector finances

US new home sales

Kantar grocery market share figures

FTSE 100 closes at record high

Monday 22 April 2024 16:55 , Simon Hunt

The FTSE 100 has closed at a record high of 8,024, after rising 1.6% today.

That beats the previous record of 8,014 set in February 2023, but remains behind the intraday record of 8,047.

But don’t be fooled by a potential FTSE record — London’s stock market is still in trouble, warns financial editor Simon English:

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.

Smaller companies are exiting the stock market apace, finding the benefits of being in it far exceeded by the hassle. Peel Hunt predicted today that the FTSE Small Cap index will cease to exist altogether by 2028 if the present trend carries on.

Monday 22 April 2024 16:45 , Jonathan Prynn

FTSE-100 ends the trading day at new all-time closing high of 8,023.87, up 128 points, or 1.62%. Beats old record of 8014.

City Voices: What's in a name? Everything it seems - Abrdn shld knw

Monday 22 April 2024 16:07 , Daniel O'Boyle

There’s a lot of value in a name, not just in terms of brand recognition and trust from your customers, but in the value of your company - or your share price.

Nearly 40 years ago when I started my company, I wanted my name - or rather my middle names - to be inside the collars of men worldwide, not because of ego, but as a constant challenge to myself to ensure the company lived up to high standards.

When it’s your name above the door - or “in the collar” - the stakes are high - and it keeps you acutely focused on maintaining the values - and value - of your brand.

Read more here

Union threatens strike preparations over council pay dispute with Cosla

Monday 22 April 2024 16:03 , Daniel O'Boyle

Strike preparation may begin as early as next week as anger grows over local government pay talks, a union has said.

Unison, the union representing 85,000 council workers, has accused local government body Cosla of “learning nothing” from significant industrial action which closed schools last year.

The union said staff were due a cost-of-living pay increase in April after a claim was submitted to Cosla in January.

Read more here

Hipgnosis battle heats up as Mercuriadis' HSM threatens to use call option to scupper Concord deal

Monday 22 April 2024 15:44 , Daniel O'Boyle

The battle for the Hipgnosis Songs Fund heated up further today, as the group led by music mogul Merck Mercuriadis that manages the fund’s portfolio of hits threatened to use an option to buy up all the fund’s songs if it is cast aside in a potential acquisition.

The fund agreed a takeover deal last week with US-based royalties investor Concord, which has its own management team, meaning it would not require the services of Mercuriadis-led Hipgnosis Songs Management (HSM), which acts as the fund’s investment adviser. Private equity giant Blackstone, which counts HSM as one of its portfolio companies, then made a proposal about a rival bid of its own, which the fund said it would be “minded to” accept.

Read more here

FTSE 100 has 'surge of power'

Monday 22 April 2024 15:17 , Daniel O'Boyle

Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets at Hargreaves Lansdown, says: “London's blue-chip index has had a surge of power as heightened geopolitical tensions have eased, and investors assessed the brighter prospects for the UK economy, with interest rate cuts spied on the horizon. It’s tantalisingly close to breaching the all-time intraday high of 8,047 and it’s been trading above its record closing value of 8,014.

“Gold, a safe haven asset, has slipped back slightly in the absence of fresh attacks by Iran or Israel. However, the precious metal is still hovering close to record highs. Brent Crude has also fallen back slightly as the focus turns to the prospects of weakening demand in the US if high interest rates linger for longer.

“However, it’s not had much effect on the share prices of the big energy giants. Tensions are still simmering in the Middle East and there are ongoing concerns about the potential that they could flare up again, causing fresh disruption to supplies.”

Ocado shares rise as investors call for switch from London listing to New York

Monday 22 April 2024 15:00 , Daniel O'Boyle

Ocado shares have climbed amid reports that the retail technology company has reportedly come under pressure from investors to move its stock market listing from London to New York.

The business held talks with shareholders in recent weeks and discussed the possibility of a move of across the Atlantic, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

Any such move would be another major blow for London’s beleaguered stock market after a flurry of similar delistings and firms being taken private over the past year.

Read more here

FTSE 100 within 10 points of record

Monday 22 April 2024 14:18 , Daniel O'Boyle

The FTSE 100 is only 10 points away from an all-time high.

The intraday mark to beat is 8047.06. The highest ever close is 8014.53 .

It got even closer earlier this month before falling just short.

Starting pay in London rising at the slowest pace since lockdown

Monday 22 April 2024 13:58 , Daniel O'Boyle

Starting pay in London is rising at the slowest pace since Covid lockdowns, according to the latest London Labour Market Pulse Check.

The influential survey, published by KPMG and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), compiled by S&P Global and supported by BusinessLDN, found the lowest rate of growth in starting salaries for 37 months. The pulse reading came to 53.6 for permanent starting salaries and 50.2 for temporary roles, with the 50 mark representing stagnation. The temporary wage growth figure for London is also well behind the national figure. For permanent roles, wage growth in London is roughly in line with the national average.

Read more here

Train drivers to strike from May 7 to 9, union Aslef announces

Monday 22 April 2024 13:39 , Daniel O'Boyle

Train drivers at 16 rail companies will stage a series of fresh strikes next month in a long-running pay dispute, Aslef has announced.

The strike, running from Tuesday, May 7 until Thursday, May 9, is expected to cause chaos for commuters.

It will see drivers who are members of Aslef walk out in a series of one-day strikes, couples with a six-day overtime ban running from May 6 to 11.

Read more here

Market snapshot: FTSE 100 on course for record close, near intraday high

Monday 22 April 2024 12:48 , Daniel O'Boyle

The FTSE 100 is less than 30 points away from an intraday high and is on course for a record close.

Take a look at our market snapshot

National Express owner shares hit after results woes as finance boss quits

Monday 22 April 2024 12:40 , Daniel O'Boyle

National Express owner Mobico has posted plunging profits and revealed its finance boss will stand down in the wake of accounting issues that twice delayed full-year results.

Shares in the group, which rebranded as Mobico from National Express last year, tumbled as much as 11% as it reported a 36% fall in underlying group pre-tax profits to £92.9 million for 2023.

On a statutory basis, it remained deep in the red with pre-tax losses of £98.3 million, although this is an improvement on the £225.3 million of losses seen in 2022.

Read more here

Model trains maker Hornby says sales hit by Red Sea shipping delays

Monday 22 April 2024 12:29 , Daniel O'Boyle

Model trains maker Hornby has said some deliveries have been delayed as a result of shipping attacks in the Red Sea.

Margate-based Hornby, a more than 100-year-old business which specialises in toys and collectibles, said its sales have fallen in recent months.

Read more here

City Comment: A Thames Water bill hike's one thing, but for this level of service?

Monday 22 April 2024 11:58 , Jonathan Prynn

Most Thames Water customers demand only two things from their supplier: that clean drinkable water pours from their tops when they turn them on — every single time — and that the company deals with their waste water and returns it to the river cleaned up and in a fit state so that it does no harm to the environment.

They expect to pay for those two essential services and would accept that those bills will have to rise over time as costs go up in line with inflation. As we know Thames has a far from unblemished record on both those scores with bursts from ageing pipes resulting in far too frequent interruption to supply in London.

Market snapshot with FTSE above 8000

Monday 22 April 2024 11:18 , Daniel O'Boyle

Take a look at our latest market snapshot as the FTSE 100 nears a record close

World’s biggest floating offshore wind farm gets go-ahead

Monday 22 April 2024 11:06 , Daniel O'Boyle

The world’s biggest offshore floating wind farm is set to be built off the coast of Scotland after the project was given the green light.

When operational, Green Volt will boast up to 35 floating turbines and provide 560 megawatts of energy off the coast of Peterhead, Aberdeenshire.

Generation will go to offshore oil and gas platforms, but the farm will also be connected to the UK grid.

Read more here

FTSE 100 near record as Ocado shares jump, Mobico down 6%

Monday 22 April 2024 10:25 , Graeme Evans

The FTSE 100 index is back within sight of a record high, up 1.4% or 110.74 points to 8006.59 after outperforming other European benchmarks.

Retail stocks benefited from a series of upgrades by analysts at US bank Jefferies as M&S surged 4% or 9.3p to 255.1p, Next by 2% or 212p to 8986p and discounter B&M European Value Retail by 3% or 17.6p to 528p.

Speculation that Ocado is under pressure from investors to consider a Wall Street listing meant the retail-to-technology stock topped the FTSE 100 risers board.

Ocado’s shares jumped 7% or 24p to 371.2p, but the M&S joint venture partner is still almost 50% lower in the year-to-date.

Other retailers in demand included Sainsbury’s, which rose 7.6p to 266.4p ahead of the supermarket’s annual results on Thursday.

Barclays, NatWest and Lloyds Banking Group are also in the blue-chip diary for this week, with shares in all three lenders up by about 1% after JPMorgan published improved price targets.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 index benefited from the improved sentiment with a rise of 0.8% or 159.29 points to 19,550.59, with WH Smith and AO World among those up 3%.

National Express and US school bus operator Mobico fell 6% or 3.8p to 56.25p after its delayed 2023 results showed adjusted profits down a third to £92.9 million.

The performance followed a year hit by cost inflation, reductions in Covid subsidies and accounting issues in Germany.

It also gave weaker-than-expected guidance for 2024 results and said it had appointed an interim chief financial officer with experience of turnaround situations.

Asda owners 'still in it for the long haul' despite Zuber exit

Monday 22 April 2024 10:19 , Simon Hunt

The boss of Asda has today insisted that the owners of Asda are still ‘in it for the long-term’ despite reports that one of the billionaire Issa brothers is seeking to exit the business.

At a hearing before Parliament in December, Mohsin Issa told said he was committed to expanding Asda’s convenience store estate, adding he was “in it for the long haul.”

But it has since emerged that his brother Zuber is seeking to sell his 22.5% stake to private equity firm TDR Capital, which would give it majority control of the supermarket.

Asda CFO Michael Gleeson today told the Standard: “The shareholders look at this business and generally the businesses they invest in for the long-run.

“I’m not going to speculate on discussions over what Zuber might or might not do in the future.

“But the shareholders as a group do invest and grow businesses for the long run. Ours is a growth strategy and that will continue to be the case.”

Read more here

Questions remain on Thames Water funding

Monday 22 April 2024 10:17 , Daniel O'Boyle

Thames Water has made a fresh bid to hike bills by 40%, promising more spending on environmental projects, but questions still remain on whether it can secure the funding required to deliver it.

The utility will cut day-to-day spending in order to free up another £1.1 billion more to spend on environmental projects over the five years from 2025-2030. That brings total spending over the plan to £19.8 billion.

By cutting spending elsewhere, it will keep bill increases at 40%, rather than the 56% hike that had been feared.

Read more here

Average price tag on a home sitting just £570 below previous record – Rightmove

Monday 22 April 2024 09:41 , Daniel O'Boyle

The average price tag on a home is only around £570 short of a record high reached in May last year, according to a property website.

Across Britain, the typical price of a property coming to market increased by 1.1% or £4,207 month-on-month in April, Rightmove said.

A key factor behind the growth towards near-record average prices according to the website is “top of the ladder” properties, with a jump in new sellers and sales agreed for bigger, family-sized homes.

Read more here

Virgin Money pushes ahead with sale to Nationwide

Monday 22 April 2024 09:21 , Simon English

VIRGIN Money today moved to push ahead with its £2.9 billion takeover by Nationwide Building Society in the face of growing opposition from a pressure group opposed to the deal.

The pressure group says Nationwide members should get a vote on the deal – Nationwide says it is not obliged to offer them one.

Today Virgin, born from a hotch-potch of banks including the old Northern Rock, issued a Scheme of Arrangement for the deal as required by the Companies Act.

It needs 75% of investors to back the deal, something that seems likely.

The document noted: “The impact of persistent inflation and ongoing investment are expected to be headwinds to cost performance, partially mitigated by Virgin Money's existing cost saving programme.”

Nationwide says it will run Virgin Money as a separate business for four years. Integrating bank IT systems is notoriously difficult.

The campaign to give Nationwide members a vote has gathered 3000 signatories.

Chill Brands CEO suspended

Monday 22 April 2024 09:06 , Simon English

VAPING and CBD product maker Chill Brands today suspended its chief executive Callum Sommerton over allegations about “the use of inside information”.

It has hired Fieldfisher LLP, the legal firm, to conduct an investigation but did not elaborate much beyond a short statement.

Chill Brands said of its CEO: “This suspension does not constitute disciplinary action or a disciplinary penalty and does not imply any assumption that Mr Sommerton is guilty of any misconduct or that any decision has been made.”

The findings of the investigation will be “reported in due course”. It assured customers and shareholders that the company will operate as normal in the meantime.

Chill Brands shares tumbled 14% to 2.7p, which leaves the equity in the business valued at £12.4 million.

The company says it will appoint an interim CEO while the investigation is ongoing.

Its website says Chill Brands is “a fast-moving consumer packaged goods (FMCG) company focused on the development of quality, compliant vapour products. Its product distribution network comprises some of the largest names in UK and US retail”.

Sommerton is described on the website as a “former legal professional with brand protection and regulatory experience”.

FTSE 100 back near 8000 as retailers rally, Mobico shares fall

Monday 22 April 2024 08:35 , Graeme Evans

Retailers are leading a rebound for the FTSE 100 index, with shares in Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Next and B&M European Value Retail up more than 2%.

Other stocks on the blue-chip risers board include BT Group, which lifted 2.95p to 108.35p, and drinks group Diageo after a gain of 66.5p to 2903p.

The FTSE 100 index is up 1.2% or 93.36 points to 7989.21, well ahead of European benchmarks and the rise of 139.25 points to 19,530.28 for the FTSE 250 index.

Shares in National Express owner Mobico are down 1.5p to 58.55p after it cut its dividend in today’s delayed annual results.

Hochschild Mining and Centamin are among other mid-cap fallers, off 4% and 1% respectively, following gold’s price fall to $2356 an ounce.

Hipgnosis shares up 10% on rival bid proposal

Monday 22 April 2024 08:11 , Daniel O'Boyle

Shares in the Hipgnosis Songs Fund have surged further after private equity giant Blackstone confirmed it was considering a bid for the music investment vehicle this weekend.

Hipgnosis had agreed a sale to rival Concord, but Blackstone said it was considering a bid of its own. Hipgnosis’ board said it would be “minded to” accept a Blackstone proposal.

It said: “The Board and its advisers will continue to provide Blackstone and its advisers access to confirmatory due diligence, to enable Blackstone to announce a firm intention to make an offer, as soon as possible.”

Hipgnosis shares are up 10% to 101p this weekend.

Tyman to become latest London-listed firm to leave the stock exchange in £788 million offer from Quanex of the US

Monday 22 April 2024 07:41 , Michael Hunter

Another long-standing UK company is leaving its the London stock exchange behind after a big-premium, international takeover offer announced this morning.

Tyman, which makes components used to open, close and seal windows, is backing a deal worth £788 million from US building products firm Quanex. The cash-and-stock offer represents an eye-catching premium of around 40%.

After the deal, Tyman “will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Quanex” the firms said today .

Tyman has been listed in the City since 1999 and is on the FTSE 250 index.

The deal comes amid a wave of concern about company valuations being relatively low on the London Stock Exchange, making UK companies look vulnerable to international buyouts.

Asda sales rise 7.1% in 2023 amid major 'express' store rollout

Monday 22 April 2024 07:35 , Simon Hunt

Sales at Asda rose 7.1% in 2023, the supermarket said today, as it was on course to open 500 of its new ‘express’ convenience stores across the country by the end of this year.

The firm, which was saddled with a heavy debt burden after its takeover by the billionaire Issa brothers, said its improved cashflow generation contributed to Asda reducing its total net leverage as a multiple of adjusted EBITDA after rent to 3.0x from 3.9x – and the business is fully committed to further deleveraging. Its net debt position still stands at £3.8 billion.

Mohsin Issa, Asda’s Co-owner, said: “We continue to strengthen the business by expanding in the growing convenience and food-to-go sectors, leveraging our loyalty app and driving innovation in online grocery.”

Thames Water proposes more environment projects, no bill increase, in new plan

Monday 22 April 2024 07:29 , Daniel O'Boyle

Thames Water has updated its business plan with extra £1.1bn of spend on "projects benefiting the environment", which it says will not lead to higher bills than the plan submitted in October.

The utility said a “ rebalancing of operating and capital expenditures” would prevent bills from increasing.

It also proposed another £1.9bn of "potential investment" in cutting sewage spills, but if it goes through with that bills will be £19 higher, hitting £627 by 2029-30.

Chris Weston, CEO of Thames Water said: “Our business plan focuses on our customers’ priorities.  As part of the usual ongoing discussions relating to PR24, we’ve now updated it to deliver more projects that will benefit the environment.

“We will continue to discuss this with our regulators and stakeholders.”

Chill brands CEO suspended over "inside information"

Monday 22 April 2024 07:25 , Daniel O'Boyle

Vape business Chill Brands has suspended its CEO Callum Somerton “after allegations were raised around the use of inside information”.

The business said: “This suspension does not constitute disciplinary action or a disciplinary penalty and does not imply any assumption that Mr Sommerton is guilty of any misconduct or that any decision has been made.”

“The process of appointing an interim Chief Executive Officer is underway.

FTSE 100 seen higher after Wall Street tech sell-off, oil at $86

Monday 22 April 2024 07:21 , Graeme Evans

The performances of Nvidia shares and the rest of the US tech sector will be closely watched later after Friday’s heavy selling on Wall Street.

Nvidia slumped 10% and contributed around half of the 0.9% loss in the S&P 500, while the tech-focused Nasdaq benchmark reversed 2% to extend its losing steak to a sixth session.

The tech sector reverse also saw falls of 5% for Advanced Micro Devices and 4% for Meta Platforms but the old economy Dow Jones Industrial Average fared better following a rise of 0.6%.

Futures markets are pointing to a steadier session on Wall Street, while IG index expects the FTSE 100 index to open as much as 1% higher at 7976.

The Hang Seng index is up 1.8%, while Brent Crude has fallen 1% in today’s session to about $86.25 a barrel.

Recap: Friday's top stories

Monday 22 April 2024 06:44 , Simon Hunt

Good morning from the Standard City desk.

Good news: people are getting better off. At last.

Last week’s wages and inflation figures definitively proved that, with pay up 6% and inflation running at just above 3%.

Throw into the mix Jeremy Hunt’s National Insurance cut that came into effect in January (with another on the way in this month’s pay packets) and most people in work should feel the load finally easing. So why are they not spending more?

Friday’s retail figures show high streets struggling to get consumers to part with their money. Indeed, if the impact of a sharp rise in spending on filling up the car is stripped out, sales volumes were actually well down.

All sort of factors could be at play. The rotten weather must part of it, although that does not explain why online sales were also lower.

The gloomy news flow also does little to help make people feel more secure about their future. The slow burn of remortgaging is still there in the background.

The country needs stability and more reasons to be cheerful to get spending back on track. The sight of Liz Truss promoting her book is probably not helpful in that respect, a reminder of the autumn 2022 turmoil that got us to where we are now.

Perhaps the Three Lions can help, with a good run in the Euros this summer, just the sort of tonic to the national mood that could get the tills ticking over.

Here’s a summary of our top stories from Friday: