London pre-open: Stocks seen up after well-received US tech earnings

Fri 31 Jul 2020

LONDON (SHARECAST) - (Sharecast News) - London stocks were set for a positive open on Friday following heavy losses in the previous session, with well-received earnings from US tech giants lending a hand.
The FTSE 100 was called to open 18 points higher at 6,008.

CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said: "Despite the bleak economic data yesterday, the Nasdaq still managed to finish the day higher even if the S&P500 and Dow finished the day lower.

"This Nasdaq optimism turned out to be well founded as after the bell, Apple, Amazon and Facebook all smashed expectations on their latest quarterly numbers. Apple also announced a 4 for 1 stock split, while posting its best ever Q3 performance."

Despite the upbeat opening call, worries about the Covid-19 pandemic were expected to continue weighing on investors' minds.

"We're also continuing to hear reports of rising Covid-19 infection rates across Europe, in Spain, France and Luxembourg, while in the UK some areas of northern England, including Greater Manchester, and parts of West Yorkshire have had restrictions re-imposed due to a sharp rise in cases there," said Hewson.

In corporate news, Natwest said it had set aside an extra 2bn for bad loans in the second quarter as it swung to a first-half loss due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The impairment loss is up from 802m in the first quarter. Natwest, formerly RBS, reported a 770m operating loss compared with a 2.6bn profit a year ago.

It guided for a full-year impairment charge in the range of 3.5bn - 4.5bn.

BT posted a decline in first-quarter profit as revenue was dented by the coronavirus pandemic.

In the three months to the end of June, reported pre-tax profit fell 13% to 561m as revenue dropped 7% to 5.2bn, "primarily due to the impact of Covid-19", including reduced BT Sport revenue and a reduction in business activity in its enterprise units.

Glencore reported a 15% fall in coal production in its first half as a number of its operations were temporarily suspended in the second quarter due to government lockdowns.

The said own sourced copper production was 11% lower year-on-year at 588,100 tonnes, while own sourced zinc production was in line with the first half of last year at 550,100 tonnes.

Transatlantic airline group IAG posted a second-quarter operating loss before exceptional items of €1.36bn (consensus: -€1.39bn) as the Covid-19 pandemic led to a 95.3% drop in passenger capacity.

The carrier also announced that it will tap financial markets for €2.75bn in fresh equity with its largest shareholder, Qatar Airways Group, which owns 25.1% of the company, having already indicated its full support for the decision and with the remainder of the increase already fully underwritten on a stand-by basis.

Cash at period end stood at €6,016m, having reduced by €667m since end of year 2019, on top of a further €2.1bn in committed and undrawn general and aircraft facilities.
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