FTSE 100 closes 54 points lower
Housebuilders slump on land-banking regulation fears
Capita caves after shock profit warning
FTSE 100 ended Wednesday around 54 points lower at 7,533 as housebuilders weighed on the top tier index and the pound firmed.
It comes as, in the latest twist to the Brexit saga, confidential analysis for the UK government suggests the UK will be worse off under all plausible scenarios when it leaves the EU.
It was also reported that EU negotiators have potentially rejected a trade deal for the significant financial services sector, which the UK had been hoping to use to gain a special kind of deal.
The FTSE 250 was also lower, plunging over 127 points at 20,243. In the currency markets, the pound gained 0.15% against the Euro and was up 0.37% against the US dollar.
Big losers on Footsie were the big builders as it emerged the government could rescind planning permission on land, which is not being developed.
The move is seen as a way for Westminster to encourage house builders to speed up their rate of building houses in order to ramp up the supply of new houses.
3.20pm: FTSE 100 can't follow US markets higher
The jump at the opening bell over in New York could have been the spur that the markets here in London badly needed, but even the Dow’s 1% gain isn’t shifting the UK blue chips.
If anything it’s pushed them lower, with the FTSE 100 now down 0.3%, or 23.5 points, to 7,564.5.
Fears that outsourcing giant Capita PLC (LON:CPI) – which issued a shock profit warning this morning – could be the next Carillion PLC (LON:CCLN) really does seem to have given the market the jitters.
The FTSE 250 firm is currently down 44.1% to 194.2p after new boss Jonathan Lewis gave a very frank assessment of the company’s current troubles. Read more about them here.
Housebuilders have been under pressure for most of the day after an article in The Times said a review into land-banking is expected to recommended “use it or lose it” planning permissions in the spring.
Persimmon PLC (LON:PSMN) took the biggest hit, down 2.2% to £25.14, while its rivals Taylor Wimpey PLC (LON:TW.) (down 1.9% to 191.4p), Barratt Developments PLC (LON:BDEV) (down 2% to 589p) and Berkeley Group Holdings PLC (LON:BKG) (down 1.4% to £39.97) were also nursing heavy losses.
3pm: US stocks bounce back
After two days in the doldrums, US stocks are bouncing back this morning in New York.
Airplane maker Boeing Co (NYSE:BA) was one of the top performers early on – up 6.1% to US$358.45 – after telling investors it expects to return to revenue growth in 2018 as it plans to deliver more commercial aircraft than last year.
They helped push the tech-heavy Nasdaq up 0.7% to 7,450.6 early on Wednesday. The Dow Jones gained almost 1% to 26,329.4, while the broader S&P 500 rose 0.6% to 2,838.0.
2.30pm: Metal Tiger pleased with progress in Botswana
2.10pm: Capita not the only FTSE 250 struggler
Capita isn’t the only FTSE 250 company to have taken a battering today.
They argue that broadband customers are increasingly price sensitive – i.e. looking for bargains – which is putting pressure on revenues across the industry.
In the past TalkTalk had been the low-cost option and was the main beneficiary of people switching to cheaper deals, but this is no longer the case.
“Their trading momentum appears to have peaked, and their share of the discount market is coming under renewed pressure,” said the research note.
1.35pm: Capita spooks London markets
Despite the pound giving up its early gains against the dollar and slipping into the red versus the euro, the FTSE 100 hasn’t been able to get its head above water.
The uncertainty caused by the FTSE 250 outsourcing giant’s collapse – it’s down 41% to 201.3p – is weighing on the bigger blue chips, with the FTSE 100 down 8 points, or 0.1%, to 7,579.9.
The President said he wants to remove caps on his defence budget as “unmatched power” is the surest defence against threats from North Korea and other rogue states.
BAE is currently up 1.9% to 594.8p, while Rolls has advanced 1.7% to 873.6p.
At the other end of the spectrum were the blue chip housebuilders, which have been hammered after an article in The Times said a review into land-banking is expected to recommended “use it or lose it” planning permissions in the spring.
Persimmon PLC (LON:PSMN) was the biggest hit, down 2% to £25.21, while its rivals Taylor Wimpey PLC (LON:TW.) (down 1.6% to 191.9p), Barratt Developments PLC (LON:BDEV) (down 1.5% to 592p) and Berkeley Group Holdings PLC (LON:BKG) (down 1.2% to £40.05) were also nursing heavy losses.
1.10pm: US stocks to claw back most of this week’s losses
US markets are looking to rebound after a shaky – to put it mildly – start to the week.
Interest rates are back in focus as the Fed meets for what will be Janet Yellen’s last meeting, but no real fireworks are expected with the likelihood of a rate hike this time around near zero.
With that mind, it’s set to be a much cheerier start to proceedings on Wednesday than previously this week.
The Dow Jones is seen 220 points higher at 26,301 at the opening bell; the broader S&P 500 index is set to kick off the day 13 points in the black at 2,835.3; while the tech-heavy Nasdaq is expected to open 33.5 points up at 6,964.1.
“The Dow Jones looks set to claw back some of the hefty losses endured over the last couple of days, with the futures pointing to a  point jump when the bell rings on Wall Street,” wrote Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.
“It’ll be interesting to see how jittery both the Dow and dollar become as the day goes on and the Fed’s first meeting of 2018 (and Janet Yellen’s last as chair) draws closer.”
12.25pm: Byron lives to fight another day
Burger chain Byron is to close 20 loss-making restaurants after creditors voted in favour of a company voluntary arrangement earlier today.
More than 75% of creditors – including landlords and suppliers – had to approve management’s turnaround plans, otherwise the company could have been wound up.
Will Wright, restructuring partner at KPMG and joint supervisor of the firm's CVA, said: "Today’s creditor vote ... will allow Byron to conclude its previously negotiated financial restructuring and is a key step in the directors’ turnaround plan.
“As with all CVAs, more than 75% of creditors had to vote in favour in order to pass the resolution. Today’s vote saw us secure significantly more than this majority with 99% of all voting creditors choosing to approve the CVA.”
The CVA will become effective following a shareholder meeting which is to be held on Thursday.
Breaking: Byron burgers CVA is approved by creditors by margin of 99%— Dominic Walsh (@walshdominic) January 31, 2018
12.10pm: M&S to shut up to 14 stores
Marks & Spencer PLC (LON:MKS) has announced that six of its UK stores will shut by the end of April, while a further eight have also been identified for closure.
In a statement on its corporate website, the FTSE 100-listed retailer said the six stores that will close by the end of April are in Birkenhead, Bournemouth, Durham, Fforestfach, Putney and Redditch, with staff all moving to nearby stores.
It added that stores in Andover, Basildon, Bridlington, Denton, Falmouth, Fareham, Keighley and Stockport are also proposed for closure.
Sacha Berendji, director of retail at Marks & Spencer, said: “Stores will always be an integral part of our customer experience, alongside M&S.com, but we have to ensure we have the right offer in the right locations.”
M&S apparently closing 8 more stores with about 468 jobs vulnerable! Things will not improve until M&S sell less dowdy fashions. Today fashion is everything. Stop trying to sell clothes for pear-shaped people like me!— David Buik (@truemagic68) January 31, 2018
11.55am: Carillion demise hits Santander’s profits
All anyone can seemingly talk about today is outsourcers ...
Santander UK – the UK arm of the Spanish banking giant – saw pre-tax profits fall by 5% to £1.8bn in 2017.
The lender reported £203mln in “impairment losses” for the year, primarily caused by the loans it made to Carillion, which went into liquidation earlier this month.
“Profitability was impacted by the losses incurred on our exposure to Carillion, which offset otherwise strong growth,” said Nathan Bostock, Santander UK's chief executive.
“We are working closely to support customers who have suffered from their collapse.”
11.40am: ‘We can’t afford another Carillion’
“Today’s profit warning from Capita is really worrying,” said TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady.
“That’s why the TUC is calling for an urgent risk assessment of all large outsourcing firms.
“It’s essential the government completes this quickly and is prepared to bring services and contracts in-house if they are at risk. We can’t afford another Carillion.”
11.15am: Another Carillion on the cards?
My brief review on 19 Jan of Capita's financial position according to last full-year accounts. (thread) https://t.co/QV4GYLe0Lk— (((Frances Coppola))) (@Frances_Coppola) January 31, 2018
11am: Capita has a shocker
The FTSE 250 company – which collects the licence fee on behalf of the BBC and operates the London congestion charge – said it was now “too widely spread across multiple markets” to deliver a world-class service to all of its clients.
In response, new boss Jonathan Lewis said the company would sell off some of its divisions, including its car park management business ParkingEye and contractor registry Constructionline.
Net debt at the end of December stood at £1.15bn, and the proceeds from the sales will be used to pay down some of that as well as being reinvested in Capita’s core operations.
Capita also plans to raise £700mln from shareholders later this year and will suspend its dividend until it generates a "sustainable free cash flow".
With Carillion’s recent plight still at the front of investors’ minds, the markets were understandably nervous. The shares, which were up above 700p in June, are down 42.3% this morning to 200.6p.
10.35am: Land-banking fears weigh on housebuilders
Housebuilders were under pressure on Wednesday morning after a report in The Times suggested developers are set to lose planning permission on unused land if they fail to hit construction targets.
In the article, housing secretary Sajid Javid said the government was “on the side of people who want more homes”, adding that he has no time for anyone “who is just anti-development for the sake of it”.
A review into land-banking is expected to recommended “use it or lose it” planning permissions in the spring, which analysts have speculated could see the housebuilders’ values slump as their share prices are linked to the value of the land they hold.
The analysts were on the money with their predictions. Persimmon PLC (LON:PSMN) was the biggest hit, down 2.1% to £15.17, while its blue chip peers Taylor Wimpey PLC (LON:TW.) (down 2% to 191.2p), Barratt Developments PLC (LON:BDEV) (down 1.9% to 589.2p) and Berkeley Group Holdings PLC (LON:BKG) (down 1.5% to £39.91) were also nursing heavy losses.
Those stocks weighed on the FTSE 100, which is broadly flat at 7,588.4 following yesterday’s 1% fall.
8.45am: FTSE becalmed
The FTSE 100 could best be described as ‘becalmed’ with the index of blue-chip shares off just 1.28 points at 7,586.70.
Overnight we had President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address, which was interpreted by commentators as “broadly conciliatory”.
“There was no criticism of China or Russia and Trump even hinted at a willingness to work across parties,” said Jasper Lawler of London Capital Group, reflecting worries over a potential trade war.
“However, in typical Trump style, there were few details on a potential $1 trillion infrastructure spend, which was a blessing in reality, because elaborating on this could have pushed the already high bond yields, higher.”
Back in London and looking at the market movers, traders were ‘rubber-necking’ at the car crash that is Capita (LON:CPI).
The support services firm this morning weighed in with a shock profits warning and a £700mln cash call that sent the shares crashing 34%.
While one is loathed to drop the C-bomb (Carillion), analysts described Capita’s woes as another blow to the outsourcing sector.
Proactive news headlines:
Cradle Arc PLC (LON:CRA) should be able to use Dense Media Separation (DMS) to boost production substantially at the Mowana copper mine in Botswana. An independent test report from SGS South Africa confirmed its suitability and Cradle Arc now intends to go ahead and install a plant.
Echo Energy PLC (LON:ECHO) told investors it is now “ready to initiate” a busy new work programme in Argentina. The company completed its Argentina acquisition earlier this month, and it has already issued tenders for the planned seismic programme.
Satellite Solutions Worldwide Group PLC (LON:SAT), the provider of alternative super-fast broadband services, expects to post a “material increase” in earnings this year.
AIM-listed security group Westminster Group PLC (LON:WSG) saw revenues rise by 23% in 2017. The group has also raised £750,000 to fund the potentially transformational Middle East managed services contract first announced last September, while Sir Tony Baldry is to become executive chairman from non-executive previously.
ANGLE PLC (LON:AGL) (OTCQX:ANPCY) has made excellent progress over the last six months, according to chairman Garth Selvey. The highlights included successful US and European ovarian cancer studies that underlined the potential of the company’s Parsortix liquid biopsy system.
Customised electronics supplier discoverIE Group PLC (LON:DSCV) said it continued to trade strongly in its fiscal third quarter and remains on track to hit full-year targets.
Empresaria Group PLC has announced the appointment of Tim Anderson as the international staffing specialist’s group finance director with effect from 21 March 2018. The AIM-listed group said Anderson will take over from Spencer Wreford, who - as previously announced on 12 September 2017 - will focus on his role as Empresaria’s chief operating officer.
88 Energy PLC (LON:88E) told investors that it ended 2017 with A$14mln of cash reserves as it provided a mandatory quarterly activities update. As the Alaska-focussed explorer’s primary work programme has been in hibernation over the winter months, there was little new information to glean from the statement.
Lekoil Ltd (LON:LEK) told investors that an independent technical study of the OPL 325 asset, offshore Nigeria, has revealed the potential for some 5.7bn barrels of oil in place. The study, by specialist Lumina Geophysical, identified a total of 11 prospects and leads in the area which straddles the western Niger delta.
Allergy Therapeutics PLC (LON:AGY) has told investors it expects to report a rise in revenues in line with expectations for the first half of its financial year as it continues to win market share in its key territories.
Chaarat Gold Holdings Ltd (LON:CGH) has significantly increased the resource estimate at the Tulkubash deposit, part of the Charaat Gold Project in the Kyrgyz Republic in Central Asia. The last estimate suggested there were just over 800,000 ounces of gold at Tulkubash, but today’s update puts that figure closer to 1mln oz.
Range Resources Ltd (LON:RRL) confirmed a production increase of 9% in the fourth quarter as it released its periodic activities report. The company reported total production of 58,034 barrels of oil in the quarter ended December 31, up from 53,304 barrels in the preceding three month period. Daily production measured 631 barrels of oil per day in the quarter, up from 579 bopd in the third quarter.
Metal Tiger PLC (LON:MTR) said the completed Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS) for its joint venture project with partner MOD Resources Limited (ASX:MOD) in the Kalahari Copper Belt in Botswana for the T3 Open-Pit looks “very robust”. In a separate announcement, Metal Tiger also announced that it has sold its remaining shares in Kingsgate Consolidated Limited, bringing its holding down from 11,504,685 shares in KCN to zero.
Asiamet Resources Limited (LON:ARS) said it expects to deliver a maiden resource estimate for its BKZ polymetallic prospect in May as it updated on progress with the drill bit. The asset, located in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, has continued to yield near-surface base and precious metal-rich mineralisation, the company said.
Ferrum Crescent Ltd (LON:FCR) said yesterday’s maiden resource at Toral in Spain had underlined its ‘undoubted potential’ as a viable European lead, zinc and silver project. The resource currently is 16mln tonnes of ore grading 6.9% zinc equivalent, including lead credits, and 25 grams per tonne silver.
Atlantis Resources Limited (LON:ARL), a global leader in the renewable energy sector, announced the formal launch through Abundance Investment Limited of a proposed five-year bond which matures in 2023. The bond has a coupon of 8%, payable semi-annually. The bond offer seeks to raise a minimum of £2mln and a maximum of £5mln, and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018.
Sound Energy PLC (LON:SOU), the North African and European gas company, announced the appointment of Macquarie Capital (Europe) Limited as joint broker to the company with immediate effect. Macquarie Capital will act alongside RBC Capital Markets as joint broker, and Smith & Williamson Corporate Finance, the company's nominated adviser.
6.45am: Another down day predicted
UK equities are set to resume yesterday's slide, albeit at a slower pace, as the pound continues to advance against the greenback.
The FTSE 100 tumbled 84 points to 7,588 on Tuesday, with the retreat led by financial stocks; this morning, spread betting quotes indicate the top-shares index will give up another three points or so at the outset, despite a firm showing yesterday on Wall Street.
Stateside, the Dow Jones average advanced 54 points to 26,072 and the S&P 500 hardened 12 points to 2,810.
The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) – the US central bank's rate-setting committee – is set to make its monthly decision on interest rates today but it would be a major shock if the FOMC were to do anything other than maintain the status quo.
Commentators think there will be important tweaks that could make this statement much more hawkish than the December version, with the economic assessment to get a slight mark-up from an already robust characterisation.
The wild card is also that the Fed committee could acknowledge some shift in the balance of risks following the recent US tax cuts as the economy is going from strength to strength.
Economists at ING are currently forecasting no US rate hike in the first quarter of 2018 as near-term activity data may be somewhat soft given bad weather in January and core inflation is likely to remain below 2% through to April.
As such, they added, incoming Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell may choose to wait until the outlook is clearer before triggering consecutive hikes in the next three quarters.
In Asia this morning, most markets were lower but Japan defied the trend, with the Nikkei 225 up 8 points at 23,816.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng was 42 points in the hole at 32,565.
Back on the home front, the corporate schedule does not look particularly busy, with mixer-drinks maker Britvic PLC (LON:BVIC), utility SSE PLC (LON:SSE) and low-cost airline Wizz Air PLC (LON:WIZZ) issuing trading updates while gold miner Centamin PLC (LON:CEYT) releases its preliminary results.
Significant announcements expected on Wednesday:
Economic data: US FOMC meeting outcome; BRC UK shop price data; UK international trade in services; US ADP employment report
Around the markets
- Pound: US$1.4195, up 0.46 cents
- 10-year gilt: yielding 1.367%
- Gold: US$1,333.90 an ounce, up 80 cents
- Brent crude: US$68.50 a barrel, down 52 cents
- Bitcoin: £10,050, down £88
The Daily Telegraph
- Wellcome Trust to raise 100-year debt with ‘Century Bond’: Debt which will not be paid back for 100 years, is being raised by Wellcome Trust, the multi-billion investor which funds medical research and charities.
- Melrose bid for GKN could withstand a £1 billion sweetener: Melrose has the financial fire-power to sweeten its £7.4 billion offer for GKN by almost £1 billion in cash, according to a new analysis of the hostile bid.
- Bitcoin tanks as Facebook bans cryptocurrency adverts: Bitcoin’s price slumped on Tuesday night as Facebook announced it would ban adverts promoting cryptocurrencies and US authorities launched a probe into a large online exchange.
- Exxon to massively ram-up Permian Basin shale oil production
- Aviva is one of the first major UK financial services company to lift the lid on its gender pay gap
- RBS throws in the towel on scathing report about its restructuring unit
- BBC to keep ‘Match of the Day’ rights until 2022
- Chip-maker AMD forecasts sales growth but warns on the cost of security fixes
- Hard times for Harley-Davidson’s easy riders: Harley-Davidson is close a plant in Kansas City, Missouri, after its motorcycle shipments fell to their lowest level in six years. The Milwaukee-based company also warned of a further drop in shipments to dealers this year as it expects retail sales in the United States, its biggest market, to dip.
- Eurozone growth races ahead: The Eurozone economy expanded at its fastest rate in a decade last year. GDP in the 19 countries in the single currency rose 0.6% in the final three months of 2017, according to a flash estimate from Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics provider. Annual growth was 2.5%, compared with 1.8% in the UK
- Trump’s tax reforms are a timely tonic for Pfizer: Pfizer booked an US$11 billion gain from President Trump’s tax reforms as it beat Wall Street expectations with its fourth quarter results and raised its outlook for 2018.
- Project tests electric vehicles recharging grid: A consortium led by Nissan has been awarded £10 million of government funding to test the potential of electric cars to feed power back into the grid.
- UK car production slides as Brexit fears erode confidence among business and consumers: Britain’s car industry slid into reverse in 2017, with production of new cars down 3% to 1.67 million, the first decline in eight years.
- Mark Carney expects UK economic growth to pick up next year as Brexit investment uncertainty lessens: The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, expects UK economic growth to pick up next year, as investment-crushing uncertainty about Brexit is lifted.
- Renault-Nissan shakes Volkswagen off top spot as the world’s top-selling car maker in 2017: The Renault-Nissan car making alliance emerged as the world’s biggest seller of light vehicles in 2017, bumping Volkswagen off the top spot, after the inclusion of Mitsubishi’s numbers boosted its final tally.
- Ryanair reaches ‘historic’ deal with UK pilots’ union: Ryanair has agreed that the Balpa union will now represent all its British pilots in talks, sealing a historic turnaround by an airline whose chief executive once said he would rather cut off his own hands than recognise a union.
- BP to install charging points for electric cars at UK petrol stations: BP will add rapid charging points for electric cars at its UK petrol stations within the next two months, in the latest sign of an oil giant adapting to the dramatic growth of battery-powered cars.
- VW suspends media chief amid scandal over fume tests on monkeys: The car maker Volkswagen has suspended its head of external relations and sustainability after admitting that he had known about experiments in which monkeys were locked in small chambers and exposed to diesel exhaust.
- Blackstone Group eyes up 55% stake in Thomson Reuters’s financial and risk arm to create £14.2 billion division: US private equity firm Blackstone Group is in talks to buy a 55% stake in Thomson Reuters’ financial and risk business.
- Amazon’s move into non-profit healthcare hits US industry players with falling share prices: The internet shopping giant said it would join forces with investment empire Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan Chase, America’s biggest bank, to offer healthcare to employees.
- Domino’s created nine jobs a day last year, with a recruitment drive of up to 300 managers in the pipeline: Appetite for takeaway food among Brits is driving a recruitment frenzy at Domino’s Pizza as it plans to take on between 200 and 300 managers this year.
- Boom in budget city breaks sees hostel firm Safestay’s shares climb 6%: The firm saw its shares jump 6.4%, or 3p, to 50p after posting a 43% rise in group sales to £10.6 million in the year to the end of December. UK sales
- Mulberry could consider another factory in the UK if it hits growth targets: British handbag maker Mulberry could open a third factory in the UK if it hits growth targets, the chief executive has said. Speaking to Reuters, Thierry Andretta said that the luxury goods company was committed to manufacturing in the UK.
- Expansion boosts sales at Raymond Blanc’s White Brasserie Company pubs and Brasserie Blanc restaurants: Raymond Blanc’s restaurant company reported an increase in sales today as it significantly expanded its estate during the year to July 2017. Brasserie Bar Co., which comprises Brasserie Blanc and the White Brasserie Company, increased turnover by almost 14% to £46.8 million in the year.
- Easyjet to avoid Brexit shareholder shake-up backlash but faces questions over female board representation at annual general meeting: Easyjet looks set to avoid a backlash over a proposed Brexit shake-up that could force UK investors to sell shares but faces questions over female representation on its board at next week’s annual general meeting (AGM).
- Aston Martin gears up to unveil £600 million investment drive in China: Aston Martin is set to unveil over £600 million worth of investment deals in China this week, as it looks to drive up its presence in the booming auto market there.
- Petropavlovsk’s top shareholder Kenes Rakishev warns of a “worrying lack of ambition” for 2018: Kenes Rakishev, the largest shareholder of gold miner Petropavlovsk, has said the company is demonstrating a “worrying lack of ambition” for the year ahead after reporting an underwhelming production forecast.