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LONDON BRIEFING: BT ups dividend; easyJet loss narrows

16th May 2024 07:45

(Alliance News) - Stocks in London are called to open slightly lower on Thursday, shaking off New York's record performance.

Stocks in New York hit record highs on Wednesday after cooling inflation data boosted hopes that the Federal Reserve would cut interest rates sooner than had been feared.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, the year-on-year consumer price inflation rate cooled to 3.4% in April, from 3.5% in March, as expected.

"All's well that ends well. US inflation came in line with expectations yesterday; core CPI fell for the first time in six months and the monthly CPI figure was a bit lower than expected," said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote Bank.

Thursday's economic calendar has the latest US initial jobless claims reading at 1330 BST, before industrial production data at 1415 BST.

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 0.1% at 8,438.40

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Hang Seng: up 1.6% at 19,374.60

Nikkei 225: closed up 1.4% at 38,920.26

S&P/ASX 200: closed up 1.7% at 7,881.30

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DJIA: closed up 349.89 points, 0.9%, at 39,908.00

S&P 500: closed up 61.47 points, 1.2%, at 5,308.15

Nasdaq Composite: closed up 231.15 points, 1.4% at 16,742.33

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EUR: up at USD1.0877 (USD1.0872)

GBP: up at USD1.2676 (USD1.2668)

USD: down at JPY154.14 (JPY154.85)

Gold: up at USD2,388.40 per ounce (USD2,381.08)

(Brent): up at USD83.03 a barrel (USD82.42)

(changes since previous London equities close)

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ECONOMICS

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Thursday's key economic events still to come:

11:00 IST Ireland trade balance

10:00 CEST Italy CPI

11:00 CEST Italy trade balance

12:00 BST UK Bank of England MPC member Megan Greene speaks

08:30 EDT US building permits

08:30 EDT US housing starts

08:30 EDT US export and import prices

08:30 EDT US initial jobless claims

08:30 EDT US Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index

09:15 EDT US industrial production

10:00 EDT US Federal Reserve Vice Chair Michael Barr speaks

10:30 EDT US EIA natural gas stocks

12:00 EDT US Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester speaks

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BROKER RATING CHANGES

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Redburn starts Domino's Pizza with 'sell' - price target 300 pence

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Barclays raises Travis Perkins to 'overweight' (equal weight) - price target 1,050 (760) pence

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COMPANIES - FTSE 100

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BT reported that revenue edged up to GBP20.80 billion in the financial year ended March 31 from GBP20.68 billion a year earlier. Pretax profit fell to GBP1.19 billion from GBP1.73 billion. BT explained that pretax profit fell due to impairment of goodwill and increased depreciation. BT increased its dividend by 3.9% annually to 8.0p. Chief Executive Allison Kirkby said: "As we move into the next phase of BT Group's transformation, we are sharpening our focus to be better for our customers and the country, by accelerating the modernisation of our operations, and by exploring options to optimise our global business. This will create a simpler BT Group, fully focused on connecting the UK, and well positioned to generate significant growth for all our stakeholders."

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Airline easyJet said that revenue came in at GBP3.27 billion for the six months ended March 31, up from GBP2.69 billion a year earlier. Pretax loss narrowed to GBP347 million, versus GBP415 million. CEO Johan Lundgren said: "We are now absolutely focused on another record summer which is expected to deliver strong FY24 earnings growth and are on track to achieve our medium term targets." Separately, easyJet said that Johan Lundgren will step down as chief executive and leave the company in 2025 having then served seven years as CEO. At that time, Kenton Jarvis will succeed Johan and become the easyJet CEO. Jarvis joined easyJet in February 2021 as chief financial officer.

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COMPANIES - FTSE 250

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Premier Foods reported that revenue in the 52 weeks ended March 30 jumped 13% annually to GBP1.14 billion from GBP1.01 billion. Pretax profit rose 35% to GBP151.4 million from GBP112.4 million. Premier Foods upped its dividend by 20% to 1.728p from 1.44p. Looking ahead, the company said it is on track for financial 2025 results.

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Tyman reported that group revenue in the first quarter of the year decreased by 5% to £205 million on a reported basis, and by 4% on a like-for-like basis. "The decrease in LFL revenue reflects, as expected, a continuation of the challenging market conditions experienced throughout 2023, during what is a seasonally less important period," Tyman explained. Looking ahead, CEO Rutger Helbing said: "The group continues to perform well against a subdued market backdrop and, whilst leading indicators for our major markets continue to signal a challenging near-term market outlook, the board continues to expect the group to make progress in 2024."

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By Sophie Rose, Alliance News senior reporter

Comments and questions to [email protected]

Copyright 2024 Alliance News Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

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