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FTSE 100 Live 27 February: Index slightly higher, Shein mulls London IPO, Currys jumps on new bid report

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

Smith & Nephew, speciality chemicals firm Croda International and asset manager Abrdn are among the major companies with results out today.

Their updates were largely well-received by investors in a session when the focus is also on the latest supermarket market share figures by Kantar.

Other developments include a potential boost for the London stock market amid reports that China e-commerce firm Shein is mulling a potential listing.

'One of the most depressing charts for the UK economy'

Tuesday 27 February 2024 15:41 , Daniel O'Boyle

Nationwide becomes the latest mortgage lender to up home loan costs

Tuesday 27 February 2024 15:24 , Daniel O'Boyle

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The UK’s biggest mutually owned mortgage provider has become the latest lender to charge more for home loans.

Nationwide warned mortgage brokers today that the interest rates on much of its products would rise tomorrow. The move will take the cost of a five-year fixed rate mortgage on 95% of the value of a home to 5.24%. For first-time buyers also looking to borrow 95% of their home’s value, rates will hit 5.1%.

On average, rates are going up by around 0.15%. The hikes come even with a cut expected from the Bank of England on its cost of borrowing later this year and will pile pressure on the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt ahead of his Budget next week.

Read more here

PlayStation to shut down London Studio as it cuts 900 jobs

Tuesday 27 February 2024 15:23 , Daniel O'Boyle

PlayStation is to shut down its London Studio, as part of a wave of job cuts across the globe.

The Sony-owned video games giant will cut a total of 900 jobs in its gaming division across the globe. The London Studio, founded in 2002 and based in Sony’s Soho office, will close entirely. The studio is best known for the SingStar series of games.

The cuts were announced in a blog post from Hermen Hulst, head of PlayStation Studios.

Read more here

'CPI on track to be sub-2% by second quarter'

Tuesday 27 February 2024 13:39 , Daniel O'Boyle

Panmure Gordon economist Simon French says the latest shop price inflation figures suggest that the overall consumer price index will fall below the Bank of England’s 2% target in the second quarter of the year.

Great British Insulation Scheme will take ’60 years to meet target’, MPs hear

Tuesday 27 February 2024 13:19 , Daniel O'Boyle

A £1 billion home insulation scheme will take 60 years to meet its three-year target to help around 300,000 households, MPs have heard.

The Government launched the Great British Insulation Scheme (GBIS) at the end of March 2023 to help people save money on their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient.

But figures released this month show there have provisionally been 4,011 measures installed in 3,284 households up to the end of December last year.

Read more here

“You risk becoming invisible” - why WFH hurts women workers hardest

Tuesday 27 February 2024 12:06 , Daniel O'Boyle

‘WFH’ might be the most-overused acronym in business, but the ‘hot takes’ about how working from home has changed our lives are still flowing, four years after the whole world started doing it.

I, for one, couldn’t do without it. Data from LinkedIn shows that women are 26 per cent more likely than men to apply for remote working jobs. It’s no wild surprise why: even in 2024, women tend to find ourselves with more caring responsibilities, whether for children or older relatives.

However, while flexible working makes work possible for millions of women who might otherwise be pushed out of the workforce, those working from home can also find a new type of glass ceiling appears.

Read more here

Currys shares jump on new bid report

Tuesday 27 February 2024 11:37 , Daniel O'Boyle

Currys shares have jumped following a report that American fund Elliott Investments has put in a new, bigger bid for the electronics retailer.

According to Sky News, Elliott has returned with a bid of 65p per share, or about £750 million,, after a £700 million offer was rejected.

However, it is expected that the higher offer will still not be enough to win over the Currys board.

Shares in Currys are up 2.9% today to 68.7p, ahead of the offer price.

Chinese retailer JD.com has also expressed interest in buying Currys. Investors will hope a bidding war between the two will push up the price.

Shares in Currys soared after attracting takeover interest from two possible buyers (Currys/PA) (PA Media)
Shares in Currys soared after attracting takeover interest from two possible buyers (Currys/PA) (PA Media)

City Comment: The only person getting decent returns from abrdn is the boss

Tuesday 27 February 2024 11:13 , Simon English

In almost any other industry on earth, news that you got an £800,000 bonus would surely be a sign of magnificent performance.

The fund management sector is different, to the delight of abrdn CEO Stephen Bird and his presumably equally delighted family.

The disemvowelled abrdn, a mish-mash of Aberdeen Asset Management and Standard Life back in 2017 looked like a mess then. The funny name hardly helped and looks like one of those marketing ideas that gets dropped once the marketing people get fired. Assuming they are still there, rather than begging for coins just of Oxford Street.

Read more here

Insurers announce action to tackle rising cost of motor cover

Tuesday 27 February 2024 09:58 , Daniel O'Boyle

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) says it is exploring various ways to tackle the rising cost of motor cover.

The association has outlined steps that it believes the industry, Government or regulators could initiate or improve on.

This includes the industry doing more on transparency around which vehicles are more costly to insure, to help people make more informed choices.

Read more here

McBride shares leap on bullish earnings outlook

Tuesday 27 February 2024 09:05 , Daniel O'Boyle

Household cleaning products firm McBride has said annual earnings are set to beat its forecasts after returning to a half-year profit as cost-conscious shoppers switch to retailer own-brands.

The group, which is behind many supermarkets’ own-brand cleaning products, saw shares soar by as much as 21% at one stage after upbeat results revealing it swung to a pre-tax profit of £17.4 million for the six months to December 31 against losses of £20 million a year earlier.

It saw revenues jump 9.8% to £468 million over the year as it said consumers continued to shift towards cheaper, private label products in the face of cost-of-living pressures.

Read more here

Smith & Nephew leads FTSE 100, Abrdn shares higher in FTSE 250

Tuesday 27 February 2024 08:41 , Graeme Evans

Smith & Nephew and Abrdn are doing well in the FTSE 350 index after their results left shares up 50p to 1175.5p and 8p stronger at 169.5p respectively.

Speciality chemicals firm Croda International retreated 76p to 4827p and student accommodation firm Unite lifted 9p to 995.5p following their figures.

The FTSE 100 index improved 12.03 points to 7696.33, aided by 2% gains for mining stocks Rio Tinto and Anglo American. Flutter Entertainment added 225p to 16,920p after Barclays gave the gaming firm a 20,000p price target.

The FTSE 250 index improved 21.08 points to 19,148, with Abrdn the best performing stock.

Market snapshot: blue-chips flat, bitcoin up

Tuesday 27 February 2024 08:29 , Daniel O'Boyle

The FTSE 100 is flat, while Bitcoin has continued to surge to levels last seen in 2021.

Take a look at our latest market snapshot.

Grocery price inflation falls to two-year low

Tuesday 27 February 2024 08:10 , Daniel O'Boyle

Grocery price inflation has fallen to a two-year low as fierce competition among supermarkets offset the cost of disruption to Red Sea shipping routes, figures show.

Supermarket prices were 5.3% higher than a year ago in February, the lowest rate since March 2022 and a decrease marking the lowest rate since March 2022 and a significant drop from January’s 6.8%, according to analysts Kantar.

In an indication of the intensifying competition between retailers, Morrison’s became the latest retailer to launch a price match scheme with Aldi and Lidl, after Asda made the move in January.

Read more here

Housing slowdown takes a chunk out of Brickability sales

Tuesday 27 February 2024 07:57 , Michael Hunter

Brickability said today that it sent out 30% fewer bricks in 2023, offering fresh insight into the extent of the slowdown in the house building market in the UK.

The London-listed company makes hundreds of millions of bricks a year. It said the drop in demand meant its profit for the financial year to the end of March would be at the lower end of current forecasts, of between £44.8 million and £47.2 million.

The 700-employee firm also said that it expected “a more conservative” recovery for the next 12 months, a sign that the rebound would take longer.

It also pointed to “robust .. underlying long-term demand for UK housing” and that it “is well placed to benefit significantly as the market and volumes recover.”

Alan Simpson, chief executive , said: “The short-term factors impacting our businesses are well publicised, however, we are very excited by some of the opportunities we are seeing in the market.

“The Group is extremely well positioned across each of its divisions to benefit when activity in its end markets recover."

Unite Students reservations slip back slightly from record highs

Tuesday 27 February 2024 07:52 , Daniel O'Boyle

Reservations for 2024/25 rooms at student accommodation prodiver Unite Students dipped back slightly from the record highs achieved at this point last year, but remain well ahead of historical rates.

The FTSE 100 business has already let 80% of rooms for next year, less than the 83% it achieved at this point in 2023, but still high enough to suggest its properties will be essentially full at the start of term.

The business is intending to expand into non-student renting saying that a pilot programme for professionals in Stratford has “performed well”.

Boss John Lister said: “This is a strong set of results, driven by full occupancy, rental growth and substantial investment into our platform and portfolio. Our pipeline of developments, asset management projects and our new university partnership present a substantial growth opportunity for the business.”

Abrdn under pressure as profits fall

Tuesday 27 February 2024 07:46 , Simon English

Abrdn, the branded Scottish investment giant, saw annual profits plunge 5% to £249 million putting further pressure on CEO Stephen Bird.

His highly controversial deal to buy interactive investor has faced criticism

He says the group needed a shake-up, including cost cuts.

He told the stock market this morning: “Over the past three years we have reshaped the business to fit the modern investment landscape. We now have content and distribution aligned to the products and services clients need, andwe are better positioned for future growth."

"The investment industry faced further structural and macroeconomic challenges during 2023 with a 'higher for longer' rate environment across developed economies adding sustained pressure on most asset classes."

"The diversity of our group supported financial results in 2023. ii and Adviser are delivering, and we are scaling up these market-leading platforms to benefit from the long-term structural growth in UK savings and wealth. We are taking action to rebuild and grow profit in our Investments business. We have sharpened our focus on improving investment performance, streamlined our fund range, reduced costs by £102m in 2023, exceeding our £75m target, and we announced a new cost saving programme of at least £150m on the 24th January."

The stock is down 25% this year to 162p, which values the business at £3 billion. It has fallen out of the FTSE 100 index.

Croda profits down a third for 2023

Tuesday 27 February 2024 07:39 , Michael Hunter

Profits at FTSE 100 speciality chemicals firm Croda fell by a third for 2023 after a drop in inventories across various parts of its business followed rising costs.

Restocking and weaker demand hit consumer care, agriculture and industrial markets according to a profit warning issued last year.

The drop in today’s results for 2023 took adjusted operating profit down 33% to £308.8 million, in line with the guidance cut issued in the autumn,

Sales fell 11% to £1.9 billion across all its markets “as customers reduced inventory levels”.

Steve Foots, chief executive, said:

"Our performance this year reflects the prolonged destocking and weaker macro environment that has followed two record years post the pandemic.

“Despite the financial impact of this ongoing uncertainty, the technology trends that will drive our future growth have not changed with a continued transition to sustainable ingredients and biologics.”

Puma hit by 'muted demand' and currency fluctuations

Tuesday 27 February 2024 07:34 , Daniel O'Boyle

German sportswear brand Puma said it saw “muted consumer sentiment and volatile demand” in 2023, and expects that to continue into this year.

Sales grew by 6.6% to €8.6 billion, falling off in the fourth quarter of the year. But the business was hit hard by currency fluctuations in Argentina, which it said cost €400 million.

The business made a €304.9 million profit, down 13.7% from 2022.

Looking ahead, the business said: “We expect geopolitical and macroeconomic headwinds as well as currency volatility to persist in 2024. These conditions already led to muted consumer sentiment and volatile demand in 2023 and we expect these effects to continue in 2024, particularly in the first half of the year.”

Arne Freundt, Chief Executive Officer of PUMA SE, said: “In a volatile environment that impacted the whole industry, PUMA delivered strong growth and profitability fully in line with the outlook. Without the extraordinary devaluation of the Argentine peso, which had a significant one-off accounting impact, our results would have been even stronger.

“This outcome reflects the strong underlying performance of PUMA and we were only able to achieve this because of our amazing PUMA Family and all of its fantastic partners.”German sportswear brand Puma said it saw “muted consumer sentiment and volatile demand” in 2023, and expects that to continue into this year.

Sales grew slowly, by 6.6% to €8.6 billion, falling off in the fourth quarter of the year.

Manchester City’s Jack Grealish during the Premier League match at Goodison Park (PA) (PA Wire)
Manchester City’s Jack Grealish during the Premier League match at Goodison Park (PA) (PA Wire)

But the business was hit hard by currency fluctuations in Argentina, which it said cost €400 million.

The business made a €304.9 million profit, down 13.7% from 2022.

Looking ahead, the business said: “We expect geopolitical and macroeconomic headwinds as well as currency volatility to persist in 2024. These conditions already led to muted consumer sentiment and volatile demand in 2023 and we expect these effects to continue in 2024, particularly in the first half of the year.”

Arne Freundt, Chief Executive Officer of PUMA SE, said: “In a volatile environment that impacted the whole industry, PUMA delivered strong growth and profitability fully in line with the outlook. Without the extraordinary devaluation of the Argentine peso, which had a significant one-off accounting impact, our results would have been even stronger.

“This outcome reflects the strong underlying performance of PUMA and we were only able to achieve this because of our amazing PUMA Family and all of its fantastic partners.”

Shein edges closer to London IPO

Tuesday 27 February 2024 07:27 , Simon Hunt

Shein has edged closer to a London IPO as the fast-fashion firmfaces setbacks to its plans to list in New York.

The Chinese e-commerce giant has concluded its application foran IPO in the US is likely to be rejected by the securities regulator,according to a report by Bloomberg, with London the likely frontrunner among alist of possible alternative stock markets including Hong Kong and Singapore.

Shein is now in the early stages of exploring a London listingapplication, after reportedly holding talks with senior figures at the LondonStock Exchange in December.

A IPO in the UK would provide a much-needed shot in the armto a lacklustre spell for the London stock market, which saw just 23 issuerslisting in 2023, a 49% decline on the 45 recorded in 2022, making it thequietest year on record since 2010 according to figures from EY.

Shein is thought to be seeking a valuation of as much as $90billion, which would propel it into the top-10 biggest companies on the FTSE100.

Read more here

US shares struggle amid rates focus, FTSE 100 seen slightly lower

Tuesday 27 February 2024 07:19 , Graeme Evans

A late reversal left the S&P 500 index 0.4% lower last night as attention moved away from corporate earnings to the timing of the first interest rate cut.

Bond yields rose as Wall Street continues to scale back expectations on where the key Federal Reserve interest rate might finish the year.

The jitters come ahead of tomorrow’s second estimate of fourth quarter GDP and Thursday’s core personal consumption expenditures data, which is the central bank’s preferred measure of inflation.

Alphabet shares led a weaker session for Magnificent Seven stocks, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average also finished in negative territory.

Asia markets are higher this morning, but IG Index expects the FTSE 100 index to open slightly lower after losing 0.3% in yesterday’s session.

Recap: Yesterday's top stories

Tuesday 27 February 2024 06:48 , Simon Hunt

Good morning from the Standard City desk.

The world has changed beyond recognition since Heathrow planners were last actively working on the airport’s third runway ambitions.

Progress was halted in early 2020 when the Covid pandemic erupted and passenger traffic collapsed by as much as 90%. Although passenger numbers at Heathrow have bounced back, it is not yet clear how much of that is a short-term unwinding of pent-up demand. And all sorts of other factors have changed.

Previous CEO John Holland-Kaye was a passionate advocate for the third runaway. It sometimes felt that getting it over the line was the crowning ambition of his career. But he left last October to be replaced by former Copenhagen airport boss Thomas Woldbye, who has yet to express his views.

Naturally he will wait until he sees the outcome of the review before he comes to a decision. So far he has stressed the need to make the existing infrastructure work better rather than nail his colours to the expansion mast.

The final change in the landscape is the upheaval on the Heathrow share register. The decision to press ahead with the third runway was taken when Spanish firm Ferrovial was the biggest shareholder.

They have gone now and three other investors are looking for an exit. It may well be up to the new owners of Heathrow as much as the new CEO to make that call on whether the third runway ever gets built.

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