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Weekly review

By Josh White

Date: Friday 02 Dec 2022

(Sharecast News) - The FTSE 100 ended the week up 0.93%, or 69.56 points, closing at 7,556.23 on Friday.
Equity view

Low-cost airline Wizz Air said on Friday that it saw passenger numbers jump in November. A total of 3.68m passengers were booked onto Wizz Air flights last month, a 70% hike on November 2021.

IT infrastructure provider Softcat said on Friday that it has appointed Dr Kathryn Mecklenburgh - the current interim chief financial officer of online fashion retailer Asos - as its new CFO. Mecklenburgh, a senior finance professional, has held a number of finance leadership roles across a range of industries and blue-chip firms, including Amazon, Serco and Procter & Gamble.

Furniture and floorings retailer ScS said on Friday that chief financial officer Chris Muir plans to step down. In a very brief statement, the company said the process to identify a successor will begin immediately.

GSK on Friday unveiled positive headline results from a Phase 3 trial of its Jemperli endometrial cancer drug. The company said Jemperli met its primary endpoint of investigator-assessed progression-free survival (PFS) and showed a "statistically significant and clinically meaningful benefit".

Marketplace operator Auction Technology Group reported full-year revenue of 119.8m on Thursday, up 11% on a pro forma basis after "resilient" growth in gross merchandise value, with an additional boost from its value-add services. The FTSE 250 company said revenue was 71% higher year-on-year on a reported basis for the 12 months ended 30 September, including contribution from LiveAuctioneers, and a foreign exchange benefit due to its high proportion of dollar revenue.

Rotork said on Thursday it has appointed Dorothy Thompson as independent non-executive director and chair designate. Thompson joins the board with immediate effect and will succeed Martin Lamb as chair when he steps down at the annual general meeting on 28 April 2023 after nine years on the board.

AJ Bell reported a jump in revenues and profits on Thursday, despite a "challenging" year for markets. The investment platform said revenues in the year to 30 September rose 12% to 163.8m, while pre-tax profits were ahead 6% at 58.4m.

ITM Power announced the resignation of Graham Cooley as its chief executive officer on Thursday, with immediate effect. The AIM-traded firm said that as part of its previously-announced planned succession process, Dennis Schulz would succeed Dr Cooley as CEO at the same time.

Specialty chemicals company Elementis said on Wednesday that it had agreed to sell its chromium business to Dutch-Turkish industrial firm Yildirim Group for $170m. The cash proceeds from the sale will be used to reduce net debt, in line with the capital allocation priorities, Elementis said.

Specialist media publisher Future reported a rise in full-year profits, driven by strong revenue growth and contributions from acquisitions. The company on Wednesday said pre-tax profit rose 58% to 170m on revenue of 825m, up 36%. It expects "modest" earnings growth in 2023.

Utility Pennon Group said on Wednesday that half-year profits tumbled after it was hit by higher costs. The owner of South West Water and Bristol Water said underlying revenues in the six months to 30 September rose 9.3%, to 425m.5m, with return on regulated equity rising to 13.4%.

Rio Tinto said iron ore shipments next year would be in the same range as current-year guidance, but warned of rising costs. The mining giant said it expected to ship between 320m-335m tonnes of ore in 2023. It also forecast unit cost of $21-$22.5 per tonne, up from $19.5-$21 per tonne.

AstraZeneca said on Tuesday that it has agreed to buy biotechnology group Neogene for up to $320m, as it looks to accelerate its ambition in oncology cell therapy. Neogene is a clinical-stage company pioneering the discovery, development and manufacturing of next-generation T-cell receptor therapies (TCR-Ts) that offer a novel cell therapy approach for targeting cancer.

West End landlord Shaftesbury said on Tuesday that it swung to a full-year profit as it returned to pre-pandemic occupancy. In the year to 30 September, the company swung to a profit after tax of 119.1m from a loss of 194.9m the year earlier. However, this was below consensus expectations of 348.5m.

Bookmaker 888 Holdings will launch an updated strategy for "sustainable value creation" amid 'more challenging' trading at its Capital Markets Day event on Tuesday. 888 said its plan was focussed on delivering shareholder returns, driven by "rapid deleveraging" and improved profit margins, supported by "accelerated and increased cost synergies".

Endeavour Mining on Tuesday lifted resource estimates at its Ivory Coast Ity gold mine by 17%. The company said drilling results confirmed continuity of a large mineralised system of seven deposits and increased measured and indicated resources to 99 million metric tonnes at 1.62 grams of gold per tonne.

Car dealership Inchcape said on Monday that chief financial officer Gijsbert de Zoeten has voluntarily tendered his resignation and will be standing down with immediate effect. "This follows an incident at a recent event where, through a lapse in judgement, he displayed personal behaviour falling short of the high standards expected of the leadership of the group," it said.

Independent gas, electricity and water supplier Y Group said annual earnings were expected to "significantly exceed" current market expectations. The company, which supplies small and medium-sized businesses, forecast the trend to continue beyond 2022.

Medical technology group Inspiration Healthcare warned on Monday that full-year sales were unlikely to significantly exceed those of the last financial year as a result of continued uncertainty not just in China but across all of its markets. The company said that since its last update in early October, it has continued to win substantial orders, in particular in the Ukraine and Thailand.

Fashion retailer Superdry confirmed on Monday that it is in talks with London-based fund Bantry Bay - which is backed by Elliott Advisors - to replace its existing up to 70m asset-backed lending facility. "There can be no certainty that an agreement will be reached, nor as to the terms of any such agreement and we remain in discussions with other lenders," Superdry said, adding that a further announcement will be made as and when appropriate.

Economic news

The financial regulator has warned insurance firms against undervaluing cars and other insured items when making payouts. The Financial Conduct Authority said on Friday it had seen evidence some insurers were offering consumers whose cars had been written off at a price lower than the vehicle's fair market value. The price was then only increased once the customer complained.

Retail footfall struggled in November, industry data showed on Friday, as the cost of living crisis dampened spending. According to the latest BRC-SensormaticIQ Footfall Monitor, total UK footfall rose 3.7% year-on-year in the four weeks to 26 November. Within that, footfall rose 8% on high streets and by 7% in shopping centres, but fell 4% in retail parks.

High street sales pushed higher last week, according to industry data, after hard-pressed shoppers snapped up Black Friday bargains. The latest BDO High Street Sales Tracker, published on Friday, showed total like-for-like sales sparked 4.26% in the week ending 27 November. That compares to an equivalent week a year earlier, which also included Black Friday, when sales jumped 38.98%.

Ofcom has launched an industry-wide probe into how clearly phone and broadband firms explain in-contract price rises. The regulator said it was concerned that providers may not have been upfront enough about the hikes, which are usually applied in March or April each year.

UK house prices fell in November, a closely-watched survey showed on Thursday, as the fallout from the government's disastrous mini-budget continued to reverberate. According to the latest Nationwide House Price Index, prices fell by 1.4% month-on-month in November, the biggest decline since June 2020. In October, they eased 0.9%.

Retail footfall sparked in November, industry data showed on Thursday - boosted by Black Friday - although it remains well below pre-pandemic levels. According to retail consultancy Springboard, footfall rose 4.3% year-on-year in the four weeks to 26 November.

Octopus Energy's planned takeover of collapsed energy retailer Bulb was given the go-ahead by the High Court on Wednesday, as other suppliers rushed to try and block the sale. According to PA, Mr Justice Zacaroli set down 20 December as the start date for the statutory 'energy transfer scheme', which has been agreed between Octopus and the government.

Ofgem said on Wednesday that the UK's electricity distribution companies must continue to invest in local energy networks without increasing household bills. The energy regulator sets how much money electricity distribution network companies can earn, as well as the level of investment they are allowed to make, every five years.

Business optimism across the UK service sector continued to slide over the last three months, an industry survey showed on Wednesday. According to the latest CBI Service Sector Survey, optimism deteriorated for the third consecutive quarter across the sector in the three months to November.

Shop price inflation ramped up in November, industry data showed on Wednesday, leaving retailers braced for an increasingly difficult Christmas. According to the latest BRC-NielsenIQ Shop Price Index, annual inflation was 7.4%, compared to October's 6.6% and the three-month average of 6.5%. Annual food inflation surged to 12.4%, up from 11.6% in October, while non-food inflation was 4.8%, against 4.1% in October.

International events

Germany recorded a fall in both exports and imports in October, official data showed on Friday, leading to a larger-than-expected trade surplus. According to Destatis, the Federal Statistical Office, exports eased by a larger-than-forecast 0.6% month-on-month, to €133.5bn, while imports also fell by more than expected, down 3.7% at €126.6bn.

One of the Bank of Japan's newest governing board members believed that the central bank should review its policy framework. In an interview with Bloomberg, the first since joining the BoJ's board in July, Naoki Tamura reportedly said that: "It would be appropriate to conduct a review at the right time, including the monetary policy framework and inflation target.

European Union member states were nearing a consensus on the level for the block's price cap on Russian crude oil exports centred on the $60 barrel mark. It was their latest attempt to reach an agreement before the 5 December deadline for harsher EU sanctions to kick into effect.

US manufacturing activity slipped further in November amid weaker domestic and international orders, the results of a closely followed survey revealed. The Institute for Supply Management's factory sector Purchasing Managers' Index slipped from a reading of 50.2 for October to 49.0 in November.

Unemployment claims in the US slipped over the latest week. According to the Department of Labor, in seasonally adjusted terms, initial jobless claims fell by 16,000 to 225,000 over the week ending on 26 November.

Americans wage and salary growth accelerated in October, supporting faster consumption. According to the US Department of Commerce, personal incomes grew at a month-on-month pace of 0.7% in October (consensus: 0.4%).

Unemployment across the eurozone nudged lower in October, official data showed on Thursday. According to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 6.5%, down from 6.6% in September 2022 and 7.3% in October 2021. Consensus had been for no change month-on-month.

The slowdown in eurozone manufacturing activity eased in November, according to a survey released on Thursday. S&P Global's final manufacturing purchasing managers' index for the sector rose to 47.1 from 46.4 in October, coming in below a flash estimate of 47.3 but ahead of the 50.0 mark that separates contraction from expansion.

German retail sales fell a more-than-expected 2.8% in October compared with the previous month as consumers reined in discretionary spending, data showed on Thursday. Compared with October 2021, retail sales were down 5.0%.

Activity in China's manufacturing sector shrank again in November, according to data released on Thursday. The Caixin manufacturing purchasing managers' index rose to 49.4 from 49.2 in October. This was ahead of consensus expectations of 48.9 but below the 50.0 that mark that separates contraction from expansion for the fourth month in a row.

Reporting by Sharecast.com staff and contributors.

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