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LONDON MARKET OPEN: WPP lowers outlook; Capita swings to loss

4th Aug 2023 08:52

(Alliance News) - The FTSE 100 inched slightly higher on Friday, as investors nervously look ahead to the US nonfarm payrolls report at 1330 BST.

The FTSE 100 index opened up 0.56 of a point at 7,529.72. The FTSE 250 was up 48.45 points, 0.3%, at 18,882.10, and the AIM All-Share was up 0.79 of a point, 0.1%, at 760.33.

The Cboe UK 100 was up 0.2% at 751.88, the Cboe UK 250 was up 0.4% at 16,572.38, and the Cboe Small Companies was up 0.2% at 13,804.55.

In the US on Thursday, Wall Street ended lower, as investors looked ahead to the latest US jobs report, the main event of the week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average down 0.2%, the S&P 500 down 0.3% and the Nasdaq Composite down 0.1%.

The US economy is expected to have added 200,000 jobs last month, according to FXStreet cited consensus, slowing slightly from June's 209,000.

Markets have been rocked this week by a US credit rating downgrade from Fitch. It was the first such downgrade by a major ratings company in more than a decade and the events evoke memories of 2011, when another debt ceiling impasse in 2011 saw S&P lower Washington's AAA rating.

The week has also been busy with a slew of data and monetary policy decisions.

Notably, the Bank of England lifted UK interest rates by 25 basis points on Thursday. It took the benchmark bank rate to 5.25% from 5.00% previously, with a majority of Monetary Policy Committee members voting for the hike.

Two members - Jonathan Haskel and Catherine Mann - preferred a 50 basis point hike and one member - Swati Dhingra - preferred to maintain the bank rate at 5.00%.

The pound was quoted at USD1.2709 early on Friday in London, compared to USD1.2719 at the equities close on Thursday.

In the FTSE 100, WPP lost 6.3%, putting it towards the bottom of the index.

WPP reported that revenue in the first half of 2023 rose by 6.9% to GBP7.22 billion from GBP6.76 billion a year earlier. Pretax profit, however, slumped 51% to GBP204.3 million from GBP418.6 million.

Looking ahead, WPP lowered 2023 like-for-like revenue-less pass-through costs growth guidance to a 1.5% to 3.0% range from 3% to 5%.

Chief Executive Mark Read said: "Our performance in the first half has been resilient with Q2 growth accelerating in all regions except the US, which was impacted in the second quarter by lower spending from technology clients and some delays in technology-related projects. This was felt primarily in our integrated creative agencies. China returned to growth in the second quarter albeit more slowly than expected."

Hargreaves Lansdown Sophie Lund-Yates said the lower guidance "is unwelcome but not wholly surprising."

In the FTSE 250, Capita lost 7.6%.

The London-based provider of business process services on Friday said it swung to a statutory pretax loss of GBP67.9 million in the first half of 2023, from a GBP100,000 profit the previous year. Adjusted for items like business exits and amortisation, its pretax profit increased 34% to GBP33.1 million from GBP24.7 million.

Capita said the reported loss was due to business exits, non-core portfolio goodwill impairment, and costs associated with a cyber attack in March which disrupted some clients' services. However Capita said that the incident only had a minimal impact on its growth momentum.

Telecom Plus, the parent company of multi-service provider Utility Warehouse, was up 2.6% ahead of its annual general meeting.

It said that "strong" trading reported in recent annual results is continuing, as energy price volatility has reduced over recent months.

Looking ahead, it expects to deliver comfortable double-digit annual percentage customer growth for the current year, leading to a broadly corresponding increase in adjusted pretax profit.

On London's AIM, Parity lost 17%.

It warned that it expects revenue in the first half of 2023 to be 10% lower than that achieved in the second half of 2022.

Parity explained hat it has seen market conditions become more challenging over recent months with economic uncertainty resulting in clients and new business opportunities deferring hiring decisions.

Ilika jumped 10%.

It said that it has signed a ten year licencing and royalty agreement with Cirtec Medical. Ilika said Cirtac is an "industry-leading strategic outsourcing partner of complex medical devices including minimally invasive and active implantable devices."

In European equities on Friday, the CAC 40 in Paris was up 0.3%, while the DAX 40 in Frankfurt was up 0.1%.

The euro stood at USD1.0946, down against USD1.0951. Against the yen, the dollar was trading at JPY142.57, higher compared to JPY142.22.

In Asia on Friday, the Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo closed up 0.1%. In China, the Shanghai Composite was up 0.2%, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was up 0.7% in late trade. The S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney closed up 0.2%.

Brent oil was quoted at USD85.23 a barrel early in London on Friday, higher from USD84.90 late Thursday. Gold was quoted at USD1,932.98 an ounce, down against USD1,937.55.

Friday's economic calendar has a UK construction purchasing managers' index reading at 0930 BST and eurozone retail sales at 1000 BST.

By Sophie Rose, Alliance News reporter

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