HomeJobsFTSE 100 rises after jobs data, meme stock GameStop jumps 80%

FTSE 100 rises after jobs data, meme stock GameStop jumps 80%

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4.40pm: FTSE 100 closes in green

London’s blue-chip index closed 13 points higher at 8,428.

4pm: Pushing towards record closing high 

The Footsie is heading for a positive close, with a potential new record high on the cards. 

At latest check the index was up 17 points at 8432, a rise of 0.2%. 

If it can add a couple more points it would eclipse its previous record close of 8433.76 from last Friday.

3pm: Broker review

Babcock was the beneficiary of a positive write-up from Citi today, as well as winning a a Royal Marines landing vehicle contract. 

Citi reckons the defence contractor’s mid-term guidance looks conservative.

Elsewhere, the major restructuring plans unveiled by Anglo American PLC (LSE:AAL) today do not seem to have overly impressed analysts.

Looking ahead to tomorrow, Citi analysts predict soft drinks maker Britvic PLC (LSE:BVIC) is likely to announce a new share buyback alongside its interims.

Analysts believe that following a positive set of first-quarter results, which highlighted robust volumes, the group is likely to post a profit beat for the half year.

2.48pm: Wall Street led by meme stocks 

US shares have started higher, despite concerns about inflation data.

Meme stocks GameStop and AMC Entertainment are leading Wall Street higher on Tuesday, with broader equity indexes also in the green.

GameStop doubled in initial trades before easing back to a 63% gain at $49.58, which is a 195% increase over five days. 

Movie theatre chain AMC has jumped 70% to $8.93, which is a gain of 180% over five days.

Wider indices are also in the green, led by the Nasdaq, led by Apple and Tesla, though Amazon, Nvidia and Meta are down. 

2.44pm: End stamp duty to save the LSE?

Britain should stop taxing people for trading shares if it wants to help reignite its stock market, the chief executive of Betfair and Sky Bet owner Flutter Entertainment PLC (LSE:FLTR) said.

Peter Jackson, the CEO of Flutter, argued the removal of the 0.5% stamp duty tethered on when buying shares could help the LSE grow, having recently faced an exodus of companies either being taken private or moving countries.

Flutter itself is one of the departing companies, with its shareholders having voted to move its primary listing to the US, citing the success of its Stateside sportsbook FanDuel and improved valuations as the reasons.

US stocks, meanwhile, have opened higher, with the Nasdaq up 0.2% and the Dow Jones and S&P 500 up 0.1%. 

2.37pm: Pret An Insurer 

Pret A Manger’s owner is planning on branching out from sandwiches and coffees and into the insurance industry.

JAB Holdings, the conglomerate which also owns Krispy Kreme and fashion group Coty, revealed it is planning to push into the insurance industry by building a global platform.

It also hopes to develop an asset management business.

2.15pm: GameStop keeps rising, meaning losses for shorts

Just ahead of the US opening bell, GameStop is now up over 120%.

Short sellers of the stock are set to lose $1.2 billion today, according to data from Ortex, with the stock surge today adding up to around $2.5 billion of losses for short-sellers so far this month.

The US games retailer was the second most bought stock on the UK investment platform Interactive Investor (ii) yesterday and earlier, Saxo said they had seen a tenfold increase in GameStop trading. 

The stock is up 126% in premarket trading today at the time of writing, while other memes from 2021 are also rising, AMC surging 110% and Blackberry (TSX:BB) ringing in with a 25% premarket gain. 

Myron Jobson, senior personal finance analyst at ii, says: “The surprise return of a social media account that helped fuel the meteoric rise in GameStop’s share price back in 2021 has breathed new life into the meme stock, which had broadly been following a downward trend since its peak.

“The surge has nothing to do with a turnaround in the company’s fortunes and everything to do with the renaissance of the FOMO (fear of missing out) sentiment that saw the stock price of the video game retailer inexplicably spike, despite the company’s fundamentals painting a bleak picture.

He says Mark Twain’s famous maxim, ‘History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes,’ is worth remembering.

“Time will tell whether the latest uptick in GameStop’s stock price becomes the latest in a string of flash-in-the-pan moments the firm has experienced over the years,” Jobson adds.

“One of the key takeaways from the meme stock saga is the importance of understanding investment risk. Risk is an inherent part of investing, but there are some investments that raise the stakes to levels akin to slot machines in a casino.

“Treating investing like a spin at a roulette wheel by betting on highly speculative stocks is not a sustainable strategy to build wealth over the long term. The reality is that the odds are heavily stacked against those who attempt to time the market.”

“Some investors can afford to speculate on the stock, knowing full well that there is a substantial risk of losing money. But betting it all in hope of substantial gains is not a wise investment strategy.”

1.55pm: FTSE on the rise amid short-squeeze?

Is the FTSE 100 getting some of mojo working again from recent weeks? The London index is up almost 30 points to over 8444, which if held would see another record closing high. 

Top of the blue-chip leaderboard is Ocado Group PLC (LSE:OCDO) up 9.4%, the second most shorted stock in the FTSE – is there a connection to the GameStop and meme stock rally in the states?

Similarly, BT also a focus of short-sellers as mentioned earlier, is also in the top 10 risers, up 2.2%.

We have a few retailers among this bunch too, Burberry Group PLC up 3.7% ahead of results tomorrow, along with Frasers Group PLC up 2%, B&Q owner Kingfisher up 1.4% and Primark owner AB Foods up 1.3%. 

1.36pm: Meme stock chat

Commenting on a meme stocks resurgence, the Saxo online trading platform is reporting a tenfold increase in GameStop trading. 

Mike Owens, senior sales trader at Saxo UK, says: “With modern online investment tools, traders will always be on the lookout for price momentum and to take adVantage of short term market moves.”

Saxo saw the big increase in client activity in Gamestop after the latest ‘meme’ interest over the weekend, he says.

He says the ‘social media, retail trading community’ tend to like the sort of derivative products such as options and CFDs on stocks like GameStop.

“Buying call options on these companies allows traders to define the cost of their trade while also potentially generating large gains in the event of a sharp upward price move,” he explains.

David Morrison at Trade Nation adds that GameStop started to rally earlier this month before it jumped on Friday to hit a 10-month high above $20.

“It’s always a laugh to see moves like this, but there’s a serious side too. Such volatility can wipe out investors as quickly as it makes them fortunes.

“Could this reemergence of meme stock madness signal that reasoned judgement has once again been chucked out of the window, and equity traders are back in casino mode? Hopefully not.”

12.54pm: No memes in London, but defence companies get a rocket

The FTSE 100 is back, tentatively, on the front, up 14 points as Wall Street starts to wake up.

While London does not have meme stocks that I am aware of, there is a mix of retailers and defence companies in the leaderboard at lunchtime. 

Currys and Ocado are top risers, up roughly 9% and 6% respectively.    

Defence company Babcock International PLC (LSE:BAB) is up 4% after being awarded an order to build six new landing and assault craft for the Royal Marines, along with BAE Systems PLC (LSE:BA.).

Grant Shapps, defence minister, said the new vessels would be ‘multi-role support ships’ capable of launching drones and laser-targeted missiles as well as amphibious landing support.

PM Rishi Sunak announced last month that UK defence spending would rise to 2.5% of GDP by 2030, adding that the country’s weapons makers must be on a “war footing”.

12.31pm: US set for flat start (apart from meme stocks)

US stocks are set for a hesitant open, continuing the market style we have seen on both sides of the pond this week. 

In futures markets, the Dow Jones is up 0.06%, the S&P 500 0.04% and Nasdaq 100 just 0.03%. 

Yesterday saw the US stock indices mostly traded near the flat line before the Dow and S&P closed in negative territory, while the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.3%.

For the Dow this ended a nine-day winning run.

Now, a separate market report might be needed for the latest moves in US meme stocks.

GameStop Corp (NYSE:GME), the memeist of them all, climbed to almost a year’s high on Friday and enjoyed a 70%-plus jump yesterday to $30.45, with a further pre-market move this morning, with a rocket-emoji 119% surge to $66.58. 

The Redditor known as Roaring Kitty, who was one of the main triggers for the interest in GameStop back in the memestock heyday of early 2021, has again triggered interest with a social media return.

Today, AMC Entertainment Holdings (NYSE:AMC), which rose 78% on Monday to $5.19, has zoomed up 120% pre-market to $11.44.

Market analyst Neil Wilson at Finalto says: “We can assume a fair chunk of the move is short-covering action chasing the initial move up.

“Some hedgies will have had calls on their shorts,” he adds. 

11.45am: Energy switching deals could come back this autumn

Shares in British Gas owner Centrica PLC (LSE:CNA) are up 1% even though regulator Ofgem said it is looking at removing the ban on energy firms offering cheaper deals to new customers from the autumn.

The watchdog said it is consulting on an earlier removal of the ban on acquisition-only tariffs, which are cheaper prices offered only for new customers to lure them away from their existing supplier.

The ban was introduced as a short-term measure in April 2022 to protect consumers during the energy crisis and was due to be lifted in March next year.

Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert, expressed strong support for the initiative, saying the current energy market does not encourage firms to compete for customers, resulting in minimal savings from switching tariffs.

“The energy market is broken. We need anything possible right now to stimulate competition and bring prices down,” he said. 

Ofgem said earlier this year there was “evidence that removing the acquisition-only tariff ban would benefit consumers”, but wanted to wait for a year “in case it was moving too quickly”, Lewis said. 

Current switching deals have not offered the 20% or 30% savings that used to abound, he said.

11.15am: FTSE 100 flattens, BoE cut hopes 

The FTSE 100’s gains have mostly been wiped out, up just three points now. 

Looking at the equity markets across the UK and Europe, they “look to be following the theme set within yesterday’s US session, as risk assets continue to tread water ahead of the critical inflation data due today and tomorrow”, says analyst Joshua Mahony at Scope Markets.

“However, European markets have also had to contend with the latest UK jobs report, with the Bank of England likely concerned at the combination of stubbornly high wages and the joint highest unemployment rate in over two years.

“Nonetheless, with UK inflation looking set to tumble next week, the declines seen for sterling this morning does highlight the ongoing confidence that the Bank of England will overlook the elevated wage data and instead seek to begin normalising rates as soon as next month.”

Economists are less sure.

Monica George Michail at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (Niesr) agreed that the main feature of the ONS figures was that wage remains strong at 6% excluding bonuses.

“We expect wage growth to remain high by historical standards amidst the minimum wage hike in April, still tight labour market and stronger than expected economic recovery.

“However, falling vacancies relative to unemployment indicates that the labour market continues to cool, hinting an easing of wage pressures in Q2 2024,” she said. 

Ashley Webb at Capital Economics says it will make the MPC more hesitant about cutting rates any time soon. 

“While the further easing in regular private sector pay in March suggests that wage pressures faded a bit faster than the Bank of England expected, broader measures of wage growth are probably still a bit too strong for the Bank’s liking.

“At the margin, this may make the Bank a bit more uneasy about first cutting interest rates in June.”

10.41am: Chattier ChatGPT updated

Last night, OpenAI released an enhanced version of its ChatGPT into the wild.

GPT-4o, the AI technology powering the ChatGPT chatbot, is accessible to all ChatGPT users, including those not subscribed.

GPT-4o also introduces a conversational style that ranges from chatty to flirtatious, although I’m not sure not from what I’ve found.

Asked to provide a summary of the market this morning in the style of rapper Kendrick Lamar, it said:

“FTSE climbed, UK jobless at 4.3, still high.

“Europe mixed, US futures inching by.

“Inflation a beast, BoE can’t lie.”

One of the new GPT-4o features is ‘real-time’ speed, with no delays in responding to user prompts, though the unveiling was not without glitches.

During a demonstration, the voice-enabled GPT-4o misidentified visual elements and prematurely attempted to solve unseen equations, highlighting ongoing challenges with AI reliability.

10.30am: Watchdog gives amber light to Pennon  

Potential good news for Pennon Group PLC (LSE:PNN, OTC:PEGRY) as the Competition & Markets Authority said it might accept solutions to address its concerns over the FTSE 100 group’s acquisition of Sutton and East Surrey Water (SES).

Pennon, which already owns South West Water, Bristol Water and Bournemouth Water, previously offered to provide separate reporting information for SES from the rest of its water businesses if it is allowed to complete the deal.

10.14am: BT short seller

Several major investors are confident that BT Group’s (LSE:BT.A) new chief executive Allison Kirkby will not be able to fix the telco’s sliding shares.

An FT story this morning reveals that two hedge funds and two large institutions, including BlackRock, have bet against the company.

Public disclosures show a combined short position of 2.79% of the company’s shares, the biggest publicly short position against BT since records began 12 years ago, according to data provider Breakout Point, while data from S&P Global has shown the proportion of BT’s shares on loan hit a record 14.9%.

Free data on the Shorttracker website shows BT has the 20th largest short position, with Petrofac (LSE:PFC) in the unwanted top position. 

Here is the top 10: 

  1. Petrofac Ltd – 10.1% (6 disclosed shorts)
  2. Ocado Group PLC (LSE:OCDO) – 7.3% (8 disclosed shorts)
  3. Asos PLC – 6.3%   7 disclosed shorts)
  4. Diversified Energy Company – 6.0%  (6 disclosed shorts)
  5. Kingfisher PLC (LSE:KGF) – 6% (6 disclosed shorts)
  6. Abrdn PLC (LSE:ABDN) – 5.9%  (6 disclosed shorts)
  7. Hargreaves Lansdown PLC (LSE:HL.) – 5.3% (5 disclosed shorts)
  8. Boohoo Group PLC (AIM:BOO) –  5.0% (5 disclosed shorts)
  9. Keywords Studios – 3.8% (4 disclosed shorts)
  10. ITM Power – 3.7% (2 disclosed shorts)

Last December hedge fund Kintbury Capital said it was short BT as the telecoms group had “no growth” and combined a “high priced product with poor service”.

10.07am: BoE economists speak

Economist Michael Saunders, a former member of the rate-setting MPC, and Huw Pill, current chief economist of the BoE and member of the MPC, have both been speaking.  

Pill said in a speech that there is “still some work to do” to get inflation down, with persistent inflation “still running at levels that mean we have some way to go” before a rate cut can be made.

He said today’s jobs numbers show “an easing of the labour market but it still remains pretty tight by historical standards” and pay growth rates remain “quite well above” what would be consistent for a rate cut to be made.

Markets are currently pricing a low chance (14%) of a June cut and slightly higher (25.7%) for an August one, but neither are anywhere near nailed on.

Pill, who was speaking at the Institute of Chartered Accountants, said that wage growth, as shown in the ONS figures earlier, is still “quite well above given developments in productivity, what would be consistent with the 2pc inflation target being met on a lasting and sustainable basis”.

But he said a rate cut in June or August will “come under consideration” as services inflation “does seem to have peaked”.

Pill was one of the seven MPC members who voted to stand pat on rates last week, with two colleagues voted to cut.

Sauders, meanwhile was speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, where he said rates “will come down soon” but the jobs report has “not much sign of an economic recovery”. 

“The labour market is starting to react to the sluggish growth that we’ve had in the economy in the last couple of years and I fear there are probably some more job losses to come,” he said.

9.39am: Market analysis

The FTSE 100 went on a little surge, up over 17 points, but has come back a little from there.

Across Europe there is a mixed picture, with the London index joined by Madrid and Milan’s benchmarks in green, while Frankfurt and Paris are in red. 

Says Naeem Aslam, chief investment officer at Zaye Capital, “European markets have started the day on a downbeat note, while US stock futures are trading flat as investors are unwilling to risk big ahead of important economic data that will unfold in two parts.

“The economic data certainly has the ability to move the markets well away from their mean, while many speculators believe that we are in a goldilocks scenario where bad news is good news for the equity markets and good news is good news. This is because the US equity markets are back near a level where one can see them flirting with their all-time highs.”

Aslam is among those expecting the upcoming inflation data tomorrow will be “the key reading” for the Federal Reserve and its monetary policy.

Neil Wilson at Finalto says: “Everyone is hanging on the CPI inflation print tomorrow. Today we get a feel for things with the US PPI and a speech by Fed chair Jay Powell. PPI is seen around +2.2% YoY and core at +2.4%.

“Elevated inflation expectations are a concern for markets. A New York Fed survey showed median one-year inflation expectations in the US rose to 3.3% from 3.0%. Just to underline the difficulty in going ‘the last mile’ once the inflation genie is out of the toothpaste tube.”

Meanwhile, following a rally above 1.25 on Monday against a broadly softer dollar, GBP is a bit weaker this morning after employment data.

All else equal, Wilson says, “this should be great for the consumer with real wage continuing to run at levels we have not seen in years.”

The ONS data showed the highest level of real pay in two years, with regular pay growth of 6% in the three months to March, versus annual inflation falling from 4% in January to 3.4% in February and 3.2% in March.

However, he points to a “shocking stat to show that wage growth and inflation can remain very stubborn without an increase in output”, with UK economic inactivity for people aged 16 to 64 years estimated at 22.1% or between one in five or one in four people. 

9.27am: Anglo ‘goes nuclear’ but investors say ‘meh’

Investors do not seem overly impressed with the Anglo American restructuring plans.

Analyst Ben Davis at Liberum said Anglo has decided to “go nuclear” on its break up, pointing out that a big re-rating is not likely.

“Anglo American have shown that they don’t need BHP’s help to do the break up, they will do it themselves,” says Davis. 

“We had been looking for some clarity on the strategic unlock, a probable sale of coking coal, but this goes well beyond anything we were looking for and many of the challenges on a break up remain.”

He says a spin-out of Anglo Platinum will take at least 12 months and have the same regulatory and tax challenges as per BHP’s plan, while De Beers is being sold at the bottom of the cycle with significant rough diamond price uncertainty.

All in all he says: “We do not think this will ultimately result in a multiple re-rating, it will still be a diversified miner and trade on a similar multiple it does today.”

9.05am: Greggs, Flutter, Marston’s and Revolution

Greggs PLC (LSE:GRG), shares down 1.2%, retained its full-year outlook after it reported strong sales growth thanks to evening trade, the expansion of its app and increased takeaway revenues.

Management said the group continued to see like-for-like sales growth despite a challenging market and is therefore maintaining its full-year guidance.

Pub group Marston’s PLC (LSE:MARS) shares are down 3.6% as it reported a positive start to the year and said the upcoming Euros and the Olympics this summer will drive growth further.

A cost-cutting drive has improved margins and enabled a reduction of debt, though a statutory loss of £43.5 million was recorded.

The justification for betting giant Flutter Entertainment PLC (LSE:FLTR) moving its primary listing to the US was writ large in today’s first-quarter results, though the shares are down 2.5%.

US revenues from subsidiary FanDuel grew 32% and it turned an adjusted profit of $26 million compared to a loss of $53 million in the previous year, while the group-wide performance was less appealing as revenues rose 16% and net losses widened to $177 million.

Flutter restated its full-year outlook despite quarterly losses widening. Analysts at Jefferies said “index rebalancing may affect share price performance until end May”

Over at Revolution Bars Group PLC (AIM:RBG) a formal sale process initiated by the hospitality chain has failed to yield a suitable offer. Revolution announced the hunt for a potential rescue deal earlier this month, with 32 potential buyers lined up.

8.49am: Institutional investors more bullish

Investors are the “most bullish” since November 2021, according to Bank of America’s monthly fund manager survey.

Coming out before the ONS jobs report, the survey found the reason for this optimism is more to do with expectations over interest rate cuts rather than corporate earnings.

More than eight out of 10 (82%) of the fund managers expect a first rate cut by the Federal Reserve in the second half of this year, according to the survey, which polled global fund managers with a combined $562 billion in asset under management.

A similar proportion (78%) do not believe a recession is likely in the next 12 months.

8.46am: Jobs numbers ‘good news for BoE’

Some economists’ thoughts on the UK jobs numbers from earlier. 

Deutsche Bank’s chief UK economist Sanjay Raja said the continued signs of cooling “should spell good news” for the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee.

“Private sector regular pay growth – while still elevated – came down a little more than the Bank of England was expecting at 5.9%,” he said, but added that he still expects wage growth to “remain sticky” through the April period given the 10% hike to the National Living Wage.

“Equally, there are clear cut signs that the jobs market is normalising a little faster than previously expected. Indeed, the jobless rate registered its third consecutive monthly increase, rising to 4.3% in March-24. And more real time HMRC payroll data points to a cumulative drop of nearly 100k workers between February and May – another worrying sign.

“Altogether, today’s data should continue to give the green light for the MPC to cut rates as early as June, and gradually through the remainder of the year,” Raja said.

But Rob Wood at Pantheon Macroeconomics said he was “sceptical that employment is falling rapidly as today’s labour market data would have us believe”, expecting HMRC payrolls employment number to be raised as the March numbers were.

He “would also not take seriously” the figures showing a sharp employment drop “because sampling problems make the official labour market data less reliable than normal”.

8.36am: Praise for Vodafone

Vodafone’s return to growth in the fourth quarter and cost cutting crusade has extracted some rare praise for Vodafone, where the shares are now up 2%, topping the FTSE 100 leaderboard.  

“It’s fourth quarter to the rescue for Vodafone, as growth starts again. It’s taken all year, but revenue growth across all segments in the final quarter was exactly what Vodafone needed to deliver,” says analyst Matt Britzman at Hargreaves Lansdown.

He said selling of some of its businesses means can now focus on growing its core markets, but investors will need to accept a lower dividend, now set at a base of 4.5 cents per share for 2025, half of what the group delivered for the year just gone.

It’s not all praise though, with Britzman adding: “Don’t confuse progress with a completed transformation, though. Vodafone is still facing plenty of challenges, from higher costs to a core German market that’s still under pressure. Growth in Germany returned in the fourth quarter, but regulatory changes are starting to hurt—this will be a key battleground over the coming year. The transformation is starting to take shape, but before getting too excited, markets will need to see sustained top-line growth over the coming year and a tighter grip on costs.”

Mark Crouch, analyst at eToro, says: “Vodafone investors may have been bracing themselves for another tumultuous earnings report this morning and while this might not have them jumping for joy, there are signs the business has turned a corner.”

He hailed a “modest” increase in organic earnings and free cash flows exceeding expectations and said the decision to slash the dividend in half “might not have been a popular one but seems like the right move”, sweetened with share buybacks. 

“It is now a case of looking inward for Vodafone, taking stock of what they have and driving up efficiency. Vodafone’s strong position in Germany and exposure in Africa, Europe and the Middle East means that they are generating healthy free cash flow, and all sectors are now producing growth, with Vodafone Business proving to be a key growth driver.” 

8.25am: Currys upgrades guidance again

Looking at those Currys PLC (LSE:CURY) results, the electronic retailer reported a return to growth in like-for-like sales in the final 16 weeks of its financial year ending 27 April.

Sales edged up 2% in this ‘post-peak’ period after experiencing a decline in revenues earlier in the year

Management is now guiding to group adjusted PBT of £115-120 million, compared to “at least £105 million” previously.

Analyst Adam Tomlinson at Liberum notes: “This comes following the two upgrades already delivered YTD before today and means cumulative upgrades of c.24%.”

8.15am: FTSE 100 shows uncertainty again

Once again, the FTSE 100 has started in an apprehensive fashion, searching for direction as it was for much of yesterday.

Initial moves have taken the index modestly below and above its last closing level, with the latest being up five points at 8420.

Despite cutting its dividend, Vodafone is up 2.8%. Possibly this reflects a return to growth across all segments in the fourth quarter, analysts said.

The market is less sure what to make of Anglo American’s reboot plans, with the shares up 0.4% so far. 

There was a raft of results this morning, with Currys PLC (LSE:CURY) up 7% on the back of its numbers, Greggs PLC (LSE:GRG) little moved, and Flutter Entertainment PLC (LSE:FLTR) down 3%. More on those shortly. 

8.03am: Vodafone cuts dividend

Taking a second look, Vodafone’s guidance was not as simple as first thought, with the dividend “rebased” to a new level the board thinks is more sustainable.

After a payout of 9 euro cents for the past year, the target level will be set at 4.5 cents for the current 2025 financial year.

A €2 billion share buyback has been declared to sweeten the pill, with another of the same size once the sale of Vodafone Italy goes through, expected by next summer.   

7.59am: UK jobs market cooling further

Commenting on the labour market figures earlier, ONS director of economic statistics Liz McKeown said they showed further “tentative signs that the jobs market is cooling, with both employment from our household survey and the number of workers on payroll showing falls in the latest periods.

“At the same time the steady decline in the number of job vacancies has continued for a twenty-second consecutive month, although numbers remain above pre-pandemic levels. With unemployment also increasing, the number of unemployed people per vacancy has continued to rise, approaching levels seen before the onset of COVID-19.

“Earnings growth in cash terms remains high, with the recent falls in the rate now levelling off while, with inflation falling, real pay growth remains at its highest level in well over two years.”

7.53am: Vodafone numbers mostly in line

Final results from Vodafone Group PLC (LSE:VOD) are in and on first glance look alright, despite a 75% decline in profits for the past year, which was expected.

The dividend was kept flat, also anticipated by the City.

Chief executive Margherita Della Valle, a year after setting out turnaround plans that were deemed unimpressive by the City, said the telecoms colossus was “now delivering growth in all of our markets across Europe and Africa”.

Revenue of €36.7 billion was down 2.5% over the year, while organic service revenue growth of 6.3% and organic earnings growth of 2.2% were both better than expected.

Operating profit came to €3.7 billion versus €14.5 billion last time, which was boosted by an €8.6 billion gain from the Vantage Towers disposal.

Underlying profits on an EBITDAaL basis (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization, and adjusted loss) fell 11.3% to €11 billion, which was exactly in line with the average analyst forecast.

7.22am: Anglo announced major shake-up

After rebuffing a second bid from BHP yesterday, Anglo American PLC (LSE:AAL) has today set out plans for a major rejig of its portfolio, including selling off its De Beers diamond business and other units.

The FTSE 100 company said it would divest its steelmaking coal business, “responding to strong buyer interest”; demerge De Beers and Anglo American Platinum “in a responsible and orderly way”, and look at options for care and maintenance or divestment of the nickel unit. 

It plans to retain “optionality” at the Woodsmith fetiliser mine in north Yorkshire, but will slow investment.

CEO Duncan Wanblad said in the statement: “We expect that a radically simpler business will deliver sustainable incremental value creation through a step change in operational performance and cost reduction.”

7.13am: FTSE 100 expected to extend losses

The FTSE 100 is tipped to continue its retreat for a second day on Tuesday, as new UK jobs numbers indicated further cooling.

Spread-better have predicted London’s equity benchmark will fall around nine points, having dropped 18.77 yesterday to end at 8,414.99.

Overnight, Wall Street had a mixed close, with the Dow Jones down 0.2%, the S&P 500 flat and the Nasdaq up 0.3%.

Asian markets are also mixed this morning, with Chinese indices flat but the Nikkei and Sensex in green. 

The UK Office for National Statistics has published the latest jobs market update, showing the unemployment rate rose to 4.3% in March, as expected, from 4.2% before. 

Average weekly earnings rose 5.7% in the three months to March, higher than expected but the same as the revises number for the previous three-month period.

Excluding bonuses wages remained up 6.0%.

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