UK stocks edged higher on Tuesday after US markets eked out small gains overnight. Investor sentiment has been dampened by threats by President Trump to use force to end days of protests and the imposition of curfews in US cities including NY and Washington.
Asian markets extended their rally after their best day in two months yesterday, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index leading the gains up 3.3% followed by the Shenzhen exchange which added 3.2%.
The pound firmed to $1.254 against the US dollar while Brent crude continued its rise, almost touching $39/barrel, its best level in nearly three months.
In thin company news, Tesco announced that current finance chief Alan Stewart would step down next April. Stewart joined the firm in 2014 and was ‘instrumental’ in Tesco’s restructuring according to chief executive Dave Lewis. Shares dipped 0.5% to 230p.
The average UK house price in May was 1.7% lower than in April, although it was still around 2% higher than the same month a year ago.
Shares in Electrocomponents (ECM ) gained 5% to 673p after the firm posted a 2.2% increase in like for like sales for the year to 31 March.
In the first eight weeks of the current quarter, sales have fallen 14% on an organic basis, with the US holding up better, down just 10%, and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) down 18%.
The firm expects the lost revenues to impact its operating profit margin by ‘mid-thirties’ percent and has deferred its final dividend for the last financial year.
Retirement home builder McCarthy & Stone (MCS) firmed 2.9% to 74p after it announced the phased re-opening of its sales offices and building sites. The firm has 1,350 of available, completed units worth around £325m which it can now begin selling.
The firm said it had seen limited impact from the crisis, mainly on its small and medium business (SME) unit, but it already has over £60m of corporate orders equal to more than 125% of last year’s turnover. Shares traded sideways at 17.25p.
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