FTSE 100 back in the black as US jobless claims fall to post-Covid low

Thu, 22nd Oct 2020

Having earlier traded at a five-month low the FTSE 100 closed 0.2% higher at 5,789.03 with sterling weakness helping to give the index a fillip. Sentiment was boosted by better-than-expected US unemployment figures with jobless claims at their lowest levels since the beginning of the Covid crisis. In a see-saw session on Wall Street, this catalyst, combined with hopes of progress on US stimulus, helped the S&P 500 to tick up 0.1% to 3,440.01 by 4.30pm UK time. In corporate news British Airways owner International Airlines Group swung to a substantial third-quarter loss and warned it no longer expected to breakeven on cash flows in the fourth quarter after slashing its capacity amid a surge in Covid-19 cases. It planned for capacity in the fourth quarter of 2020 to be no more than 30% compared to 2019, citing the high uncertainty of the current environment. The shares recovered earlier losses to trade 4.6% higher at 105.1p. Consumer goods giant Unilever reported underlying sales growth of 4.4% for the third quarter of 2020. It ticked up 0.3% to £47.15. Estate agent Countrywide's shares slumped 11.5% to 163.3p as it urged shareholders to back a recapitalisation plan. The plan would see Alchemy take a majority stake in the company with a £90 million investment and shake up the board with a new leadership team. Renishaw's stock dipped 0.5% to £56.80 as it reported that its adjusted profit before tax jumped by more than 300% in the three months to the end of September when compared to the same period last year. Total revenue for the quarter declined to £116.9 million, down by 6%, but profit before tax reached £18.3 million compared to £4.3 million a year earlier. Builders merchant Travis Perkins recorded like-for-like revenue growth of 3.9% in the third quarter of 2020, it announced this morning. It cited strong performance from its Wickes and Toolstation brands, with the latter recording like-for-like sales growth of 25.5%. Travis Perkins shares were up 1.2% to £12.35. Mining company Anglo American reported a 24% rise in quarterly production in the third quarter compared to the second. Its share price was up 0.1% at £19.53. Rentokil Initial reported ongoing revenue growth of 9.8% in the third quarter of 2020 as it returned to a programme of acquisitions. The company's shares were up 3.9% on the news to 537.2p. FTSE 250-listed Spectris reported a like-for-like sales decline of 9% in the third quarter of 2020, up from -18% in Q2. Its shares fell 3.1% to £25.83. Publishing and events company RELX's shares dropped 1% to £16.37 after it reported a 70% decline in revenue for its exhibitions and events business over the course of 2020 to the end of September. Mining company Polymetal International reported a 35% jump in third-quarter revenue as gold and silver prices rose. Revenue for the period reached $884 million. Its shares were up 0.5% to £17.75. West End property investor Shaftesbury fell 15.7% to 420p on news of a discounted cash call. Online comparison site Moneysupermarket.com reported a 16% fall in revenue in the third quarter of 2020 amid tighter bank lending conditions. Its stock fell by 9.9% to 240.6p Online music and equipment retailer Gear4music upgraded its outlook after reporting a jump in sales in the first of the year as strong demand continued. It rose 1.5% to 700p. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

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