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LONDON BRIEFING: abrdn assets fall; Spirax-Sarco CEO steps down

8th Aug 2023 07:58

(Alliance News) - Stocks in London are called to open lower on Tuesday, following news that Germany's yearly inflation rate eased in July, with investors now nervously awaiting readings from China and the US later this week.

Also early Tuesday, data confirmed that the UK retail sector had a trickier month in July, with wet weather doing "no favours" for clothing sales.

According to the latest British Retail Consortium and KPMG sales monitor, sales rose 1.5% on-year last month, below the three-month average growth of 3.5%. Sales growth eased from 2.3% a year earlier.

In early corporate news, Edinburgh-based fund manager abrdn reported a decline in assets under management. Meanwhile, Spirax-Sarco Engineering said that Chief Executive Nicholas Anderson plans to step down, and it promoted its chief financial officer to the role.

Here is what you need to know at the London market open:

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MARKETS

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FTSE 100: called down 0.4% at 7,523.6

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Hang Seng: down 1.8% at 19,188.03

Nikkei 225: up 0.4% at 32,377.29

S&P/ASX 200: up marginally at 7,311.10

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DJIA: closed up 407.51 points, or 1.2%, at 35,473.13

S&P 500: closed up 40.41 points, 0.9%, at 4,518.44

Nasdaq Composite: closed up 85.16 points, 0.6%, at 13,994.40.

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EUR: down at USD1.0994 (USD1.1004)

GBP: down at USD1.2758 (USD1.2776)

USD: up at JPY143.28 (JPY142.25)

Gold: up at USD1,934.52 per ounce (USD1,934.11)

(Brent): down at USD85.25 a barrel (USD85.44)

(changes since previous London equities close)

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ECONOMICS

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Tuesday's key economic events still to come:

10:00 CEST EU ECB consumer expectations survey results

08:30 EDT US international trade in goods and services

10:00 EDT US IBD/TIPP economic optimism index

16:30 EDT US API weekly statistical bulletin

08:55 EDT US Johnson Redbook retail sales index

10:00 EDT US wholesale trade sales

08:30 EDT US Fed Richmond President Thomas Barkin speaks

08:15 EDT US Fed Philadelphia President Patrick Harker speaks

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Germany's yearly inflation rate eased last month, numbers on Tuesday confirmed, with food price growth, though still robust, easing. Germany's annual inflation rate cooled to 6.2% in July from 6.4% in June, Destatis said. The figure confirmed an earlier estimate. Month-on-month, consumer price grew 0.5% in July, picking up speed from a 0.3% rise in June from May. On a harmonised basis, designed for EU-wide comparison, Germany's annual inflation rate eased to 6.5% in July, from 6.8% in June. Consumer prices also rose 0.5% on-month by the harmonised measure in July, accelerating from a 0.4% rise recorded in June. "The rate of inflation has fallen slightly but remains at a high level", said Ruth Brand, president of Destatis. "Especially the development of food prices continues to have an upward effect on inflation. In addition, the increase in energy prices was again somewhat larger than in the two previous months."

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The UK retail sector had a tricker month in July, with wet weather doing "no favours" for clothing sales, numbers showed. According to the latest British Retail Consortium and KPMG sales monitor, sales rose 1.5% on-year last month, below the three-month average growth of 3.5%. Sales growth eased from 2.3% a year earlier. July's rise was the weakest year-on-year growth in retail sales since August 2022, according to the BRC. Retail sales had risen 4.9% on-year in June. On a like-for-like basis, retail sales rose 1.8% in July, trailing the three-month average growth rate of 3.3%. Like-for-like growth picked up from the 1.6% seen a year prior, however.

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BROKER RATING CHANGES

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Deutsche Bank cuts WPP to 'hold' (buy)

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Barclays starts Smurfit Kappa with 'overweight' - price target 3,830 pence

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Panmure starts Just Eat Takeaway with 'hold'

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COMPANIES - FTSE 100

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abrdn, an Edinburgh-based fund manager, reported that net operating revenue in the first half of 2023 rose by 4% year-on-year to GBP721 million from GBP696 million a year earlier. The company's pretax loss narrowed to GBP169 million from GBP326 million. However, its assets under management declined. Assets under management and administration fell to GBP495.7 billion on June 30, from GBP500.0 billion at the end of 2022. The company reported "challenging market conditions and net outflows from the 'risk-off' environment". abrdn maintained its interim dividend of 7.3p. It also extended its share buyback programme by GBP150 million to GBP300 million. Chief Executive Stephen Bird said: "We continued to move at pace to execute our strategy over the first six months of 2023 in a challenging macro environment. Thanks to abrdn's revenue diversification and the resilience we have built into our business with the acquisition of interactive investor last year, we grew revenue by 4% and adjusted operating profit by 10% over the period. "

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Spirax-Sarco Engineering said that its CEO Nicholas Anderson plans to step down in early 2024, upon completion of 10 years in the role. In his place, Spirax-Sarco said it has appointed Nimesh Patel as CEO. He will take up the position on January 16. Patel joined the company in 2020 as chief financial officer. Chair Jamie Pike said: "Nimesh's appointment as group chief executive marks the completion of the board's long-term planning for Nick's succession. During his three-year tenure as chief financial officer and a member of the board, Nimesh has played a significant role in shaping our strategy, working with colleagues to enhance our unique culture and business model to fulfil our purpose."

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COMPANIES - FTSE 250

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Workspace provider IWG said that in the six months ended June 30, revenue rose 15% GBP1.48 billion from GBP1.29 billion a year earlier. Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose by 48% to GBP198 million from GBP131 million. However, its pretax loss remained unchanged at GBP70 million. Looking ahead, IWG said its outlook for the full year remains "cautiously optimistic" given the growing demand for hybrid working solutions tempered by FX headwinds and a challenging economic and competitive environment. It left its guidance for adjusted Ebitda unchanged. "We continue to be well-placed to deliver further revenue, profitable growth and reducing leverage as more companies permanently embrace hybrid working as their preferred model with IWG set to be the biggest beneficiary," added CEO Mark Dixon.

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OTHER COMPANIES

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SIG, a Sheffield, England-based insulation, roofing, commercial interiors and construction products supplier, reported that revenue in the first half of 2023 rose to GBP1.42 billion from GBP1.36 billion a year earlier. However, pretax profit fell to GBP12.2 million from GBP26.2 million. Operating profit fell to GBP30.0 million from GBP39.8 million. Looking ahead, SIG said its second half is expected to see greater benefit from productivity initiatives, and its full year underlying operating profit is expected to be in line with the board's recently revised guidance. However, it warned that market conditions are expected to remain challenging. In July, SIG said it expects profit to land at the lower end of market expectations. For the full year, it expects underlying operating profit at the lower end of a GBP65.3 million to GBP84.0 million analyst expectations range. At worst, that range would represent a 19% fall from GBP80.2 million in 2022.

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By Sophie Rose, Alliance News reporter

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