London pre-open: Stocks seen higher after US markets end off lows

Fri 16 Oct 2020

LONDON (SHARECAST) - (Sharecast News) - London stocks were set to rise at the open on Friday after equity markets on Wall Street ended well off their lows despite growing concerns about tightening coronavirus restrictions.
The FTSE 100 was called to open 32 points higher at 5,864.

CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson pointed to the fact that US stocks managed to pull back from their lows "as once again hopes of a stimulus package being agreed before the election were raised by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, when she assured House Democrats that she would look to address the need for a stimulus plan, if there was no deal with the Republicans, and the White House soon".

"It remains to be seen how she can pull that off without the support of Senate Republicans who have pledged to block measures with a price tag of over $1.8trn.

"This late pullback in US markets could well see European markets undergo a bit of a rebound on the open later this morning, however it probably won't be enough to prevent the loss of a good proportion of the gains that we've seen from the previous two weeks."

In corporate news, pub chain Wetherspoons swung to an annual loss as it felt the full impact of the coronavirus lockdown and said the government's latest set of curbs had led to a 15% fall in like-for-like sales in the first 11 weeks of the current fiscal year.

The company reported a pre-tax loss of 34m compared with 102m profit a year ago. Revenue fell by a third to 1.26bn and the final dividend was scrapped.

"The recent curfew and introduction of table service only have been particularly damaging for trade, depressing sales for customers who find it too much 'faff', at the same time as substantially increasing costs," the company said.

Jupiter Fund Management saw its assets under management jump by 42% in the third quarter to reach 55.7bn, although the increase was entirely due to the consolidation of assets from recently acquired Merian.

Net outflows for the three months to 30 September meanwhile printed at 953m, partly offset by 0.8bn of market returns. Nevertheless, Jupiter branded products did see net inflows of 56m, even if market returns on this side of the business amounted to just 74m.

The bulk of the outflows at Merian originated from its Systematic strategy funds, which saw 0.4bn walk out the door, while the Global Equity Absolute Return fund saw outflows of 0.2bn.

Serco reported strong revenue growth in the third quarter, which in conjunction with good cost control, meant it was upgrading its full-year revenue guidance to around 3.9bn, and underlying trading profit to between 160m and 165m.

The FTSE 250 outsourcing specialist said that would represent organic growth in revenues of around 15%, growth in underlying trading profit of over 30%, and an underlying trading profit margin of just above 4%.

It said all of its regions globally were performing better than expected, and had increased their forecasts for 2020.
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