European and Asian markets are weak on Monday after US data on Friday sparked fears of a global economic slowdown. The Japanese and Chinese benchmarks are down by 3% and 2% respectively and US futures are pointing to further weakness when the market opens later today.

The FTSE 100 index is caught up in the sell-off, losing 0.5% to 7,170 points with miners Antofagasta (ANTO) and Evraz (EVR) and heavyweight oil firm Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) dragging the index lower.

Swimming against the tide is water utility Pennon Group (PNN) up 1p at 786p after releasing an upbeat trading update.

‘Unprecedented demand’ during the prolonged dry weather over the summer is expected to offset the higher cost of supplying water.

There is also good news from pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca (AZN) after last week’s bombshell for the sector from rival Biogen.

The European Commission has approved Astra’s Forxiga oral diabetes treatment, the first of its kind, for patients with type-1 diabetes when insulin on its own doesn’t provide adequate glycaemic control. Shares add 7p to £63.58.

There is finally some good news for investors in specialist medical products supplier Convatec (CTEC).

The firm announces a major board shake-up with the chairman and deputy chairman stepping down and a new chief executive officer (CEO) starting in September.

New CEO Karim Bitar is a former chief executive of animal genetics firm Genus (GNS) and before that spent 15 years at pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly. Convatec shares add 3% to 138.5p.

Retirement-planning firm Just Group (JUST) announces it has completed its £375m capital increase with the placing of £300m of perpetual bonds at a punchy 9.375% interest rate.

Just Group caught the market on the hop earlier this month when it announced the refinancing plan, sending its shares down 14%. This morning’s news is greeted with a further 2% dip to 69p.

There are sore heads at Majestic Wine (WINE) today after the firm releases its ‘transformation plan’ which involves further restructuring charges and a change of name to Naked Wines.

The plan means ‘reviewing’ the dividend, closing some Majestic stores and investing in a ‘Naked face-to-face new customer recruitment channel’. Investors make for the exit sending the shares down 7% to 252p.

Travel firm Thomas Cook (TCG) is also closing high-street stores as more customers book their holidays online. Over 60% of all Thomas Cook bookings were made online last year, a 30% increase from 2017. Shares trade 1.6% lower in line with the overall tone at 27.5p.

Bucking the trend is Domino’s Pizza (DOM) up 3.7% to 235p on weekend press reports that investment fund Asteya Partners is building a stake ‘with the aim of becoming a substantial backer’. Asteya’s founder is on the board at Restaurant Brands International which owns Burger King.

Separately Domino’s announces it is hiring ex Greene King (GNK) and Ladbrokes chief finance officer Ian Bull as an independent non-executive director.


Issue Date: 25 Mar 2019