Mining updates continue to flow, with investors in Anglo American set for a deep dig

The Day Ahead also includes updates from blue-chip wealth manager St James's Place and new Wagamama owner The Restaurant Group, plus the latest European Central Bank policy meeting

Mining truck
Anglo American has had the recent boon of restarting operations at its Minas-Rio iron ore operation in Brazil after two slurry pipe leaks

Another FTSE 100-listed mining giant will issue a fourth-quarter production update on Thursday, with those released so far this week from the likes of BHP PLC (LON:BHP), Antofagasta PLC (LON:ANTO), and Fresnillo PLC (LON:FRES) proving mixed.

Anglo American PLC (LON:AAL), however, appears to have weathered the Chinese slow-down storm much better than some of its peers, with its shares having jumped by more than a fifth since the start of September.

Despite a planned cut in production, its majority-owned De Beers diamond business is going great guns and sold US$540mln worth of rough diamonds in its tenth and final sales cycles of 2018 last month.

Anglo American has also had the recent boon of restarting operations at its Minas-Rio iron ore operation in Brazil after two leaks in a slurry pipeline forced it to shut earlier in 2018.

The shutdown dented copper equivalent production in the third quarter and given that things only restarted towards the end of December, a similar drop is expected in the final quarter.

Gross inflows main focus for St James’s Place

Elsewhere, blue-chip wealth manager St James’ Place PLC (LON:STJ) has seen its shares underperform the market over the past six months due to concerns about prospects for global growth and some disappointment with the level of gross inflows it reported in its third-quarter update in October.

That figure will, therefore, be much scrutinised when the firm issue its fourth-quarter update on Thursday and investors will be interested to hear if the group’s CEO still believes the industry is facing a more challenging environment.

In a note on Tuesday, analysts at Credit Suisse downgraded its rating for St James’s Place to ‘neutral’ from ‘outperform’, as the Swiss bank forecast slower growth for assets under administration (AUA), driven by near-term market volatility.

Credit Suisse’s analysts forecast St James’s Place average net flow growth for the firm of 10% from 2019 to 2021 compared to 20% between 2014 and 2018.

Wagamama key for Restaurant Group

Away from the big caps, an update from FTSE 250-listed firm The Restaurant Group PLC (LON:RTN) will be closely eyed following its £550mln takeover of noodles chain Wagamama.

In a preview, analysts at Peel Hunt noted that the firm’s overall like-for-like sales should benefit from an easy comparative, which saw a 5.5% decline over the first three months of the current year, as well as the inclusion of Wagamama - which last posted like-for-like sales growth of 12%.

However, against a backdrop of weaker consumer confidence, the City broker pointed out that the company is currently offering 50% off mains at Frankie & Benny’s, Coast to Coast and Chiquito, and it thinks 2018 earnings should fall by almost another 10%. 

Dull ECB meeting

The main macro-economic focus will be the latest European Central Bank meeting although no changes to EU monetary policy are expected following the end of quantitative easing last year.

In a preview, economists at ECB said: “With only few signs of a bottoming out of the recent loss of momentum, lingering ‘no deal’ Brexit turbulence and hardly any inflationary pressure, calls on the ECB to get back into crisis mode are growing louder.

“In our view, however, there is still no need for the ECB to change its course. Instead, continuing the current strategy of driving on manual, with increased alertness, looks like the best plan for this week’s meeting.”

Significant events expected on Thursday:

ECB monetary policy decision

Trading updates: St James’ Place PLC (LON:STJ), Anglo American PLC (LON:AAL), Restaurant Group PLC (LON:RTN), CMC Markets Group PLC (LON:CMCX), Fevertree PLC (LON:FEVR), Daily Mail & General Trust PLC (LON:DMGT), KAZ Minerals PLC (LON:KAZ)

Finals: Benchmark Holdings PLC (LON:BMH), Blue Prism Group plc (LON:PRSM)

Interims: Haynes Publishing Group PLC (LON:HYNS), NCC Group PLC (LON:NCC)

FTSE 100 ex-dividends: None

Economic data: US weekly jobless claims; US Markit flash composite PMI

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