FTSE 100 Live: EG Group property sale, CBI boss steps aside

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Oil prices and mining stocks weakened after China announced a lower-than-expected GDP target of 5% for this year.

The forecast, which was revealed by Premier Li Keqiang at the annual National People’s Congress on Sunday, projects last year’s second-slowest growth since 1976.

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China’s demand outlook put pressure on mining stocks and Brent crude price.

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US stocks rose in the first hour of trading

US stocks continued the rally that began last week, with all major indexes up in the first hour of trading today.

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The S&P 500 was up 0.6% at 4068.8, while the Dow Jones was up 0.4% at 33537.64 and the Nasdaq was up 0.8% at 11786.13.

Snapchat’s parent company Snap was the biggest riser, with 11.9% shares after the US House Foreign Affairs Committee approved legislation that would give the president the authority to ban TikTok.


Home REITs in more trouble as two tenants enter liquidation

Two tenancies providing housing for the homeless and vulnerable through troubled housing provider Home REIT have gone into liquidation.

Home REITs told investors on Monday that Lotus Sanctuary in the Midlands, which provides 939 beds for residents, mainly women, and General Live UK, which has 517 in the north west of England, were close to collapse.

Pair Homes makes up a cumulative 18% of the REIT’s annual rent roll.

The company said it has appointed FRP Advisory Trading Ltd as liquidator, and it is in talks with potential tenants to take out new leases for the two portfolios.

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City comment: Hunt’s tinkering won’t straighten out the economy

Chancellors often imagine themselves as the captain of a mighty ship.

They stand at the bow, propel Britain’s economy around, skilfully avoid icebergs and steer a ship swiftly when the opportunity arises.

In reality, the course was set by precedents and past events and has little place in them. The best they can hope for is to carve out as much room for themselves as possible to do great things well.

This can make them feel like they are doing mostly nothing, so they tend to lash out.

The Sunday Times reports that Jeremy Hunt will push ahead with plans to cut research and development tax relief for small firms in the budget. Maybe this is a good idea, although it’s hard to immediately figure out why this is.

How much savings does the chancellor expect from the move? Around £215 million. Government spending of probably £900 billion, in other words, almost nothing.

This is a footing measure, for which the best that can be said is that it cannot do much harm. This hardly makes any difference to the government finances.

Perhaps this frees up £200 million that Hunt can chuck on pet projects – new cricket pitches at South London schools. A bridge in Doncaster. These things are fine in themselves but they don’t make a real difference to the economy or to most people’s lives.

Perhaps the rule should be this: if the chancellor’s exciting new plan costs or saves less than £25 billion, it is a waste of time. It is a man on a ship who is doing nonsense because he knows that the exact direction of travel is beyond his control.


US futures steady ahead of Powell’s testimony this week

US stocks are set to open this morning around Friday’s close, with futures for each of the major indices broadly steady.

Dow Jones futures fell 24 points to close at 33390. The S&P 500 futures closed at 4050.75, up one point. Meanwhile, Nasdaq futures are up 18 points at 12331.25.

Telecom business Lumen Technologies was one of the biggest pre-mmarket movers, with futures rising 1.3%.

US investors will be paying close attention to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s testimony before Congress later this week, which could provide insight into how aggressive the Fed will be in raising interest rates.


Billionaire Issa Brothers’ Easy Group Sells Assets Worth $1.5 Billion

Billionaire Issa brothers’ business Easy Group has sold assets worth $1.5 billion in the US as the pair struggle to reduce the firm’s debt burden amid rising interest rates.

Easy Group, which runs hundreds of petrol stations in the UK as well as the Leon fast food brand, said it had sold 415 store assets in the US to property company Realty Income, which will lease back the assets in a deal. $103 million annual rental fee.

Easy Group said the move, which represents the sale of around 15% of its property empire, was part of a “commitment to reduce overall net profit through debt reduction and free cash flow generation”.

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CBI chief Tony Danker steps down amid workplace misconduct probe

Tony Denker, director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), has stepped down as the trade body investigates claims of workplace misconduct.

The CBI – which speaks for more than 190,000 UK businesses – said it was made aware of an allegation regarding Danker’s conduct in January.

It said, “thoroughly investigated and dealt with comprehensively”, the CBI ultimately determined that disciplinary action was not warranted.

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Curry changes remuneration policy after shareholder revolt

Currys has changed how it will grant stock to directors after a large number of shareholders disapproved of its remuneration policy.

The retailer will now require top executives to hold shares for two years after exiting the business. Under the previous policy, he was required to hold the shares for one year.

The change comes after Currys’ remuneration plan was approved by shareholders representing 65.9% voting rights last year. While this was sufficient to approve the plan, Curry said at the time that it would engage with shareholders who voted against it.


Building contractors struggling to fill 2023 order book

London’s biggest building contractors will be hoping the March budget announces measures to boost housing and address inflation concerns, as research revealed today that construction order books are being battered by political and economic headwinds. How has it been affected?

Two surveys published on Monday showed a tougher outlook for manufacturing in 2023, increasing pressure on firms already grappling with difficulties such as labor shortages and higher material costs.

The closely watched S&P Global/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index brought good news about commercial construction – which grew at the fastest rate in nine months in February – but residential building declined for a third month in a row.

Meanwhile a survey among London’s largest building contractors found that 25% of their new work has yet to be secured for 2023. A year ago, companies had only 15% left to fill their order books to meet the target.

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Aston Martin shares jump 20%, market flat on global concerns

Aston Martin Lagonda continues its stellar start to the year after FTSE 250-listed shares surged 20%.

The stock hit its highest level since May following annual results last week, with the promise of a significant increase in profitability this year, giving the city’s confidence a major boost.

Despite rising from 46.8p to 286.8p today, shares are still a far cry from the 1,900p seen during the £4.3bn stock market debut of Aston Martin Lagonda in October 2018.

Shares of the carmaker delivered an exceptional performance during a session dominated by uncertainty over the outlook for China’s economy in 2023.

The Aston Martin Lagonda’s Flying Start Of The Year Continues

, AP

Beijing’s bleak annual GDP target of 5%, compared with expectations of 5.5%, is putting pressure on oil prices and mining shares as it suggested authorities are less likely to ramp up stimulus in the economy.

Anglo American and Rio Tinto shares fell 3% each from 91.5p to 2951p and 181p to 5963p respectively, as the FTSE 100 index weakened 21.56 points to 7925.55.

The poor session also reflected a risk-averse outlook ahead of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s testimony to Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday and the publication of the monthly non-farm payrolls report on Friday.

The events should help Wall Street build a picture about the likelihood of further interest rate hikes and the type of landing the US economy faces following a spike in inflation.

Other shares to fall in London included Ocado as the grocery technology business came under selling pressure, down 23.8p to 526.4p.

However, retail stocks were strong as B&Q owner Kingfisher lifted 3p to 288.1p and Nextel gained 52p to 6950p. B&M European Value Retail improved 2.5p to 491.4p after analysts at RBC raised their price target to 550p.

The FTSE 250 index was 7.66 points lower at 19,918.11, despite a jump in Aston Martin shares today and the latest boost for EasyJet as shares added 7.6p to 512.6p.


Snapchat removed too many underage accounts from its platform, report finds

A report shared with media regulator Ofcom has found Snapchat barely removed any underage children from its platform in the UK, raising concerns about its safety efforts for young users.

Only 700 suspected minor accounts were removed from Snapchat in the UK between April 2021 and April 2022, according to data filed with Ofcom seen by Reuters news agency. This represents only 0.4% of some 180,000 accounts removed by TikTok over the same period.

According to Ofcom, almost two-thirds of children under the age of…

Credit: www.standard.co.uk /

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