London pre-open: Stocks to edge up ahead of data slew

Fri 11 Jan 2019

LONDON (SHARECAST) - (Sharecast News) - London stocks were set to edge higher at the open on Friday, taking their cue from an upbeat session on Wall Street as investors eye a raft of UK data releases.
The FTSE 100 was called to open seven points higher at 6,950.

On the data front, manufacturing and industrial production figures are at 0930 GMT, along with the trade balance and gross domestic product for November.

CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said: "Concerns about a slowdown in the UK economy will focus on a different sector today with the release of the latest manufacturing and industrial production numbers for November. We've already seen some ugly numbers out from Germany and France this week raising concerns that Germany could fall into recession in Q4. If the weak economic environment in Europe is any guide the UK could well cop some of the fallout from that, with the sharp decline in oil prices also weighing on the UK oil and gas sector.

"UK industrial production is expected to rise 0.3%, while manufacturing production is expected to rise 0.4% after some sharp declines in October. It should be remembered that similar positive projections were expected for this week's German and French numbers so a sharp miss to the downside can't be ruled out. Monthly GDP is expected to come in unchanged at 0.1% for November, with the rolling three-month average expected to slip back to 0.3% from 0.4%."

In corporate news, British regional airline Flybe Group agreed a 1p-a-share takeover by a consortium made up of Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group and Cyrus Capital Partners valuing the company at 2.2m.

The consortium, known as Connect Airways, committed to make available a 20m bridge loan facility to support Flybe's ongoing working capital and operational requirements. A further 80m would be invested in the business, as well as the contribution of Stobart Air after completion.

Even though the rate of growth slow in the last two months of the year, builders merchant Grafton Group expects adjusted profits to be slightly ahead of the top end of analyst expectations.

Revenue for calendar 2018 was 2.95bn, an increase of 8.7% on the previous year, while the top end of the analyst forecasts range was 188.5m.

Pub operator Ei Group said it has agreed to dispose of 370 properties for 348m to Tavern Propco Limited.

Ei said the disposal, which comprises a significant proportion of its current commercial properties division, represents a successful outcome of the previously announced sale process designed to optimise value from this part of the group.

Hastings announced that Richard Hoskins, who had been with the business since April 2015, was retiring from his position as group chief financial officer.

The company said John Worth, currently group CFO at MS Amlin, would replace Hoskins and was expected to join the board within "the next few months". It said Worth would work with Hoskins to ensure orderly succession and a smooth handover.
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