The FTSE 100 got off to a modest start on Friday morning, gaining 0.35% to 5,843 on hopes that lawmakers in the US would agree on a crucial stimulus package for the world’s biggest economy.
US government bond yields also rose following reports that Democrats were preparing a new economic stimulus package totalling $2.4 trillion in a bid to kickstart talks with Republicans, though reports suggest this price tag could still be too high for an agreement to be reached.
Stocks in Asia had a mixed Friday with Japan’s Nikkei 225 up 0.51% in afternoon trading, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong dropped 0.34% and China’s Shanghai Composite dipped 0.12%.
In commodities, gold rose 0.34% to $1,874 per ounce while Brent crude oil futures were trading around 0.33% higher to $42.08 a barrel.
BOOHOO ‘DID NOT DELIBERATELY ALLOW EXPLOITATION’
While in company news, online fashion retailer Boohoo (BOO:AIM) soared 16.3% to 377.3p after an independent report concluded that the company did not deliberately allow poor conditions and low pay to exist within its supply chain.
The report identified ‘significant and clearly unacceptable issues’ in the company’s supply chain, but stated Boohoo had already taken the steps to remedy problems in its Leicester supply chain nearly a year ago, as the company pledged to implement recommended improvements outlined in the review.
It comes after Boohoo was forced to announce an investigation after it was reported that workers at one of its Leicester suppliers were being paid as little as £3.50 per hour, well below the minimum wage.
PENNON TO GIVE UPDATE IN NOVEMBER ON CASH PLANS
Water utility Pennon (PNN) remained virtually flat at £10.41 as it said it would update investors in November about plans for its cash pile, with acquisitions and returns to shareholders still on the company’s radar.
Pennon recently sold its Viridor waste management business for £4.2 billion, banking net cash proceeds of £3.7 billion.
‘We continue to review the most efficient and effective method of returning value to shareholders, alongside considering earnings accretive market opportunities,’ the company said.
In a trading update, Pennon also said it was on track to deliver ‘resilient’ financial results for the year through 30 September in line with its expectations.
The impact of the Covid-19 crisis to date was still broadly line with initial assumptions for a net revenue impact in 2020/21 of £10 million.
WIZZ AIR TO OPERATE AT 50% IN OCTOBER
Low cost airline Wizz Air (WIZZ) fell 2.5% to £30.18 after it said it now expected to operate at 50% of capacity in October year-on-year, citing ongoing travel restrictions owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
The company also said that, should restrictions remain at current levels, it expected not to operate at a higher level of capacity during winter than its projection for October.
‘The protection of its solid balance sheet and excellent liquidity position as well as minimising cost across all areas of the business remain Wizz Air’s top priority,’ Wizz Air said.
OTHER COMPANY NEWS
London West End property investor Shaftesbury (SHB) fell 0.6% to 458.6p after it decided to scrap its final dividend, while warning that fresh government lockdowns could stymie a recent recovery in retail footfall.
Shaftesbury said 41% of its rent due for the six months through September had been collected. Another 10% was expected to be subject to deferred collection arrangements, 23% was being waived and 26% remained outstanding at 11 September.
Office assets developer Circle Property (CRC) rose 4.4% to 154p even after it reported a slump in profit as lower revaluation gains of its properties offset a rise in rental income.
Circle Property also declared a final dividend of 2p per share, bringing its total annual dividend to 5.3p per share.
Infant merchandise retailer Mothercare (MTC) was also a big gainer, rallying 14% to 9.6p, as it swung to a full-year profit, having booked a one-off gain on the loss of control of its UK business.
However it also posted an underlying loss as revenue fell. On current trading in the first 28 weeks of the 2021 financial year, its franchise partners had recorded a 39% slump in retail sales.
Mining royalty and streaming company Anglo Pacific (APF) firmed 3.7% to 107.2p as it launched an up to £5 million share buyback.