London market extends gains, Taylor Wimpey boss to step down
The rebound for the London market has continued after yesterday returning above the level seen before the Black Friday sell-off.
The FTSE 100 index added another 0.3% amid hopes that symptoms associated with the Omicron variant are not as severe as first feared.
In London corporate news, Taylor Wimpey announced chief executive Pete Redfern is to step down after more than 14 years at the helm. Games Workshop shares fell after a trading update, while there are results from holidays giant TUI and railway station caterer SSP.
Redfern denies departure linked to Elliott position
09:00 , Oscar Williams-Grut
Taylor Wimpey’s outgoing CEO Pete Redfern has denied his exit is linked to Elliott Advisors, the activist that has reportedly recently taken a position in the company’s stock.
Elliott is well known for its aggressive pushes for change at companies it invests in and is currently waging campaigns at GlaxoSmithKline and SSE.
Redfern said he “never comment[s] on individual investors,” but said his departure “doesn’t relate to any conversations with any investor.”
Read the full story.
Berkeley upgrade boosts housebuilding stocks
08:36 , Graeme Evans
The rally for the FTSE 100 index has continued after the top flight added another 0.3% or 20.52 points to 7360.42.
Berkeley is the biggest riser, up 4% or 202p to 4837p, after the London-focused housebuilder increased its earnings guidance for the current financial year by 5%.
Asset manager Abrdn rose 2%, or 5.7p to 246.3p, as analysts at HSBC described the recent acquisition of retail trading platform Interactive Investor as a “game-changer” that should help it achieve high-single-digit compound earnings growth.
Shares in British Airways owner IAG fell back 3.6p to 138.48p, while oil giants BP and Royal Dutch Shell were 1% cheaper.
The FTSE 250 index rose 44.97 points to 23,283.14, aided by a strong session for housebuilders after the Berkeley update.
Games Workshop reveals bonus, shares fall
08:34 , Graeme Evans
Games Workshop, the firm behind Warhammer fantasy miniatures, is handing a £2,500 cash bonus to staff this month in a move worth £6.9 million.
Details of the awards under the company’s profit share scheme were revealed in an update on recent trading.
The FTSE 250-listed stock was at a record high above 12,000p in September, only to lose a quarter of its value amid stock market fears over freight and currency impacts.
The retail business said today it continued to trade in line with expectations after sales of at least £190 million in the six months to November 28. Operating profits are broadly in line with last year’s “exceptional“ performance.
Having recovered in recent sessions, the shares today fell 3% or 255p to 9505p.
Taylor Wimpey looks for new boss
07:52 , Oscar Williams-Grut
One of the longest serving bosses in the housebuilding industry is stepping down after Taylor Wimpey announced that Pete Redfern is to leave the business.
He has been chief executive for more than 14 years and will go once a successor is found and a full handover has taken place.
Redfern, who took the helm just as housebuilding shares crashed in the face of the 2007 credit crunch, said he left the company in “excellent health” and well positioned for strong future growth.
Shares are still a long way short of where they were before the pandemic, despite a robust year for the housebuilding industry.
Read the full story.
FTSE 100 steady after two-day rally
07:37 , Graeme Evans
The resurgence of the London stock market is set to hit pause today after two sessions of big gains left the FTSE 100 index at its highest level since 15 November.
The top flight has now recovered all its Omicron-led losses after traders drew comfort from signs that the symptoms associated with the new variant are mild.
Wall Street markets followed Europe’s positive lead last night, with the Nasdaq posting its biggest one day gain since March.
CMC Markets sees the FTSE 100 index opening five points lower at 7,335.
Its chief markets analyst Michael Hewson said: “We are almost two weeks from when the first reports started to come out of South Africa, and thus far there appears to have been no direct causal links to any deaths.
“This doesn’t, of course, change the dynamic when it comes to how Europe is battling against the increases being seen in Delta cases, and which is likely to hamper the recovery across the likes of Germany, Austria and the Netherlands where restrictions and lockdowns have been re-imposed.”
Hewson added that this week’s gains for stock markets were all the more surprising given the backdrop of increasing inflationary risk. The key focus on this front will be Friday’s US CPI number for November, having jumped sharply the previous month to 6.2%.
The fate of China’s Evergrande is also a concern after the property developer missed another debt repayment deadline. Its shares are now at an all-time low.
Oil prices, meanwhile, have steadied following their strong gains earlier in the week. Brent crude futures are at $75 a barrel, a fall of 0.5% in trading today.