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Watch to watch: French Connection surges on takeover offers, markets tread water ahead of US jobs report, house prices suffer biggest drop since April

LaToya Harding
·Contributor
·3-min read
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2020/05/27: French Connection shop in Covent Garden. (Photo by Dave Rushen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
The troubled fashion house said it had been approached by retail investor Spotlight Brands, with backing from restructuring and investment firm Gordon Brothers. Photo: Dave Rushen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Here are some of the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and around the world.

French Connection surges on takeover offers

Retail chain French Connection (FCCN.L) was in fashion with investors on Friday after it received two separate takeover approaches from potential suitors.

The troubled fashion house said it had been approached by retail investor Spotlight Brands, with backing from restructuring and investment firm Gordon Brothers.

It has also received another potential proposal from brand investment platform Go Global Retail.

In a statement French Connection said: “Discussions with both Spotlight and Go Global remain at a very early stage. Accordingly, there can be no certainty that an offer will be made, nor as to the terms on which any offer might be made.”

The news sent shares soaring as much as 85%, valuing the company at £28m ($38m).

The news sent shares soaring as much as 85%, valuing the company at £28m ($38m). Chart: Yahoo Finance
The news sent shares soaring as much as 85%, valuing the company at £28m ($38m). Chart: Yahoo Finance

Spotlight has previously backed British brands such as Sweaty Betty and Gordon Brothers acquired the Laura Ashley brand last year after it collapsed into administration.

Markets tread water ahead of US jobs report

European stocks were treading water on Friday, with the FTSE 100 (^FTSE) up a marginal 0.09%, edging above the 6,500 mark, ahead of the US jobs report.

The FTSE itself was somewhat constrained by the strength in sterling as the Bank of England (BoE) indicated yesterday that negative rates were unlikely, and wouldn’t be introduced for at least six months, predicting a big bounce back in UK GDP.

The pound was 0.23% higher against the dollar (GBPUSD=X) at $1.3699 and 0.09% up against the euro (GBPEUR=X) at €1.1436.

On the continent, the CAC (^FCHI) was 0.97% higher by mid-morning while the DAX (^GDAXI) was 0.21% up.

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Europe is largely quiet as traders await this afternoon’s US nonfarm payroll numbers.

“Analysts are expecting a recovery from December’s 2020-ending contraction in the jobs market, with the addition of 85,000 jobs pencilled in following a strong ADP figure mid-week,” Connor Campbell of SpreadEx said.

“The unemployment rate, meanwhile, is set to hold steady at 6.7% for the 3rd consecutive month, but with average hourly earnings growth dropping from 0.8% to 0.3% month-on-month.”

House prices suffer biggest drop since April

UK house prices slipped 0.3% to an average of £251,968 in January, according to Halifax’s house price index.

It was the biggest drop since April last year, breaking months of successive growth, with a fall of £865 compared with the previous month. However, prices were up 1.6pc on the quarter and 5.4pc on the year.

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Russell Galley, Halifax’s managing director, said: “There are some early signs that the upturn in the housing market could be running out of steam, with the annual rate of house price inflation cooling to its lowest level since August.

“Industry figures for agreed sales remain well above pre-pandemic levels but new instructions to sell have decreased noticeably, and total stock held by estate agents has risen to its highest level since before the EU referendum in 2016.”

He added that the stamp duty holiday helped to fuel growing demand amongst households for larger properties.

Since the introduction of the stamp duty holiday last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the housing market skyrocketed with mortgage approvals, transactions and house prices all increasing in 2020.

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