London pre-open: Stocks seen lower on weak US and Asian cues

Wed 06 Sep 2017

LONDON (SHARECAST) - (ShareCast News) - London stocks were set for a weaker open on Wednesday, taking their cue from downbeat sessions in the US and Asia as worries about North Korea continue to play on investors' minds.
The FTSE 100 was expected to open 23 points lower at 7,350.

Just days after its hydrogen bomb test, North Korea has threatened to send "more gift packages" to the US if it continues to put pressure on the regime.

CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said: "The background hum of escalation concerns on the Korean peninsula appears to be the dominating force behind current investor sentiment at this time. US markets returned from their long weekend break and instead of bucking the bearish tone from Europe on Monday, they appear to have continued it, closing sharply lower."

There are no major UK data releases due, so investors will turn their attention to the US, where Markit's services purchasing managers' index and the ISM non-manufacturing PMI are due at 1445 BST and 1500 BST, respectively.

In corporate news, Barratt Developments increased its final dividend 39% and doubled it again with a special dividend, as the housebuilder began the new year with strong forward sales and an unchanged positive outlook.

The FTSE 100 company, which confirmed the 765m profits before tax on revenue of 4.65m that it pre-released in July, said it continued to see "robust consumer demand supported by a positive mortgage environment".

Trading conditions over the first four months at Berkeley Group were in-line with management's expectations, but the company said that uncertainty around Brexit, stamp duty and mortgage interest deductibility continued to negatively impact the London market.

On the back of the former, the company to reiterate it was on track to deliver at least 3.0bn of pre-tax profits over the five years ending on 30 April. For the current year, profits were expected to be at least as strong as in the previous financial year. Sales prices achieved during the reporting period were also ahead of the company's business plans.

Petrofac has been awarded a contract worth more than $700m by Sakhalin Energy Investment Company, it announced on Wednesday, for its onshore processing facility on Sakhalin Island.

The FTSE 250 firm said the project comprised a lump-sum engineering, procurement and offshore fabrication component, as well as a reimbursable element for construction and site services.

It said the scope of work included inlet separation and feed gas compression facilities, a new flare system, utilities, substations and associated buildings, a temporary beach landing facility, refurbishment of the existing camp, temporary site facilities for Sakhalin Energy and Petrofac, as well as brownfield tie-ins to the existing OPF.

Sports Direct reiterated its full-year guidance as it expressed optimism over its outlook.

In a trading update ahead of its annual general meeting later in the day, the company said its outlook remains in line with the statement from 20 July, in which it stated that it aims achieve growth in underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of between 5% and 15% during FY18.
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