FTSE 100 Live: Focus on US non-farm payrolls as Federal Reserve readies taper plan, oil prices rise – Evening Standard

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mployment figures in the United States have the potential to move markets later today as speculation continues about when Federal Reserve policymakers might begin to scale back economic support.

This afternoon’s monthly non-farm payrolls release is expected to show the country’s unemployment rate is at a post-pandemic low, triggering a taper move by the Fed next month. A disappointing figure, however, has the potential to fuel stagflation worries.

It’s been a wild week for energy prices, with a barrel of Brent crude today trading at a fresh three-year high above $83 and natural gas futures still at an elevated level of about 250p a therm.

Live updates

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Royal Mail goes west

/ PA

Royal Mail is tapping into the worldwide surge in online shopping with the £210 million acquisition of one of Canada’s biggest trucking firms.

The delivery group’s overseas freight arm GLS International is picking up family-owned freight group Rosenau Transport to expand operations in North America’s $25 billion parcel market, which is growing at 5% a year.

The Rosenau network will tie up with existing GLS routes on the US west coast, extending its cross-border capacity.

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Helical CEO says “sentiment has moved away from wfh”

The boss of Helical has said “sentiment has moved away from WFH”, as the London offices landlord updated on rent collection.

Gerald Kaye said that comes as “companies appreciate the importance of the office in motivating teams, as well as working collaboratively and with far greater effectiveness”.

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Tesco and Royal Mail kick off Christmas recruitment drive — but can they fill the roles?

Tesco and Royal Mail today officially kicked off their festive recruitment campaigns. Tesco is seeking 30,000 temporary staff, with half the roles already filled by extending the contract of staff brought on during the pandemic. Royal Mail is after 20,000 seasonal workers to deal with the annual spike in Christmas cards, presents and other festive deliveries.

In total, major retailers have so far announced plans to hire around 100,000 seasonal workers across the sector. The figure is likely to be higher when other smaller retailers are factored in, with more announcements likely in the coming weeks.

There are fears that companies could struggle to fill the roles. The UK already has more than 1 million open jobs across the country. Companies are struggling to hire workers after many overseas workers left during the pandemic. Many seasonal workers who used to come from Europe have also been put off by Brexit.

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Games Workshop board member leaves after a year

Games Workshop today announced the departure of Sally Matthews from its board after just a year. The figurine retailer said Matthews would resign as non-executive director and chair of the audit and risk committees when the company’s current reporting period comes to an end on 28 November.

Matthews, an accountant by training, joined Games Workshop’s board last October. She previously worked at meal delivery kit company Gousto and had spent time at Tesco.com and Unilever. Reasons for her departure weren’t given.

Games Workshop thanked Matthews for her “valuable contribution” and said a recruitment process was underway to find a replacement.

Shares slipped 95p, or 1%, to 9705p.

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GrubHub founder leaves after Just Eat sale

The boss of US food delivery startup GrubHub is leaving the business just months after completing a sale of to Just Eat Takeaway.com.

Matt Maloney will step down from the newly combined company’s management board “to pursue other opportunities”. He leaves on 1 December.

Maloney co-founded food delivery app GrubHub in Chicago in 2004. He grew into a business with over $1 billion in turnover and took the company public in New York in 2014. His exit comes shortly after Just Eat Takeaway.com completed a $7.3 billion takeover of the business in June.

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M&S builds momentum

Marks & Spencer’s bid to convince a sceptical City that its recent upturn in fortunes won’t just be another false dawn appears to be showing signs of progress.

Chief executive Steve Rowe and his management team yesterday met retail analysts at a capital markets event held a few weeks after a shock upgrade to profit forecasts.

Having sat through their fair share of M&S turnaround presentations, Peel Hunt’s retail team of Jonathan Pritchard and John Stevenson think momentum is building this time amid the “confidence and new belief” coming from the retailer.

They wrote today: “The average age of the analysts at the M&S capital markets day was in line with the average M&S shopper, and they bear the scars of wrongly believing that “this time will be different” many times in the past.

“But never have we seen such an authoritative, confident showing from M&S, where weaknesses were owned up to and strengths demonstrated.”

The upbeat message from yesterday’s presentation filtered through to the share price, which climbed 2.8p to 175.4p in the FTSE 250 index. Peel Hunt now recommends adding shares after increasing its price target to 190p.

It was an otherwise lacklustre session for the wider London market, with most upward pressure coming from the energy sector after the Brent crude price rose to a fresh three-year high of $83 a barrel. The surge followed Senate approval for another extension of the US debt ceiling and as it emerged there are no current plans to tap into US strategic reserves.

BP and Royal Dutch Shell both saw their shares rise more than 1%, while the former Premier Oil business Harbour Energy lifted 6% in the FTSE 250 index.

The FTSE 100 index was 3.15 points higher at 7,081.26, led by British Airways owner IAG as the latest relaxation of Covid travel restrictions helped shares up 2.78p to 179.6p. The FTSE 250 improved 10.47 points to 22,569.85.

The session also marked the debut of Prague-based Eurowag, which has been dubbed the Uber of the trucking world. Shares were priced at the low end of expectations and immediately reversed 10% from their 150p starting point.

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Brighton Pier enjoys bumper summer

The owners of the famous Brighton Pier today say “pent up” demand, good weather, and the boom in staycations helped the popular tourist attraction surpass pre-pandemic sales. Revenue was 14% above 2019 levels over the crucial summer trading period. The final August bank holiday saw the pier take in £1 million in a single week for the first time in its history.

The company was also boosted by news of an insurance pay out. Brighton Pier Group said it had secured £5 million through its business interruption insurance cover, which reimbursed the company for business lost during the pandemic. As a result, full year earnings are set to be £2 million higher than market forecasts.

Shares rose 10p, or 18%, to 63.53p.

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Travel shares jump as Covid holiday restrictions lifted

AROUND £500 million was added to the value of big airline stocks today as the UK eased entry rules for 47 countries that were subject to the tightest Covid-19 restrictions.

That gives fresh hope to investors and managers that airlines will survive one of those most difficult periods in the industries history.

Easyjet had to raise £1.2 billion from shareholders to shore up its balance sheet just last month. It also rejected a cheeky takeover bid from rival Wizz Air. Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said airlines other than his would have to merge to survive.

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Electrocomponents upbeat

Electrocomponents, the distributor of 500,000 industrial and electronics items, looks to be on top of the global supply chain crisis after it revealed better-than-expected trading and continued product availability for customers.

Its UK business suffered slightly during the period of the Covid-19 ‘pingdemic’ but has since recovered. Global like-for-like revenues rose 31% in the first half of the financial year.

Today’s update sent its FTSE 250-listed shares up 1.5%, despite higher freight charges and its warning that ongoing supply chain pressures will mean trading is more weighted towards the first half than in previous years.

Founded in 1937 as Radiospares, the company operates under nine brands including RS Components and the technology business OKdo for computing and Internet of Things equipment. The company also supplies PPE and safety products to food manufacturers through its Needlers business.

Chief executive Lindsley Ruth said: “Our trading has remained very strong across all regions as we have worked closely with suppliers to ensure our product availability.”

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Oil giants lift FTSE 100

The FTSE 100 index is ending a choppy week 18.75 points higher at 7,096.79, aided by a surge in the oil price after the Senate approved another extension of the US debt ceiling.

The 1% gain for Brent crude to $83 a barrel came as it also emerged that the US Energy Department has no current plans to tap into strategic oil reserves in order to control the surge in energy prices.

BP and Royal Dutch Shell both saw their shares rise more than 1%, while the former Premier Oil business Harbour Energy lifted 5% in the FTSE 250 index.

The latest relaxation of travel restrictions meant shares in British Airways owner IAG surged 3% to the top of the FTSE 100 risers board.

Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor, said: “Some sterling weakness is also propping up the FTSE 100 given its majority exposure to overseas earnings, while the more domestically focused FTSE 250 has recouped losses following some buying on the dip from investors still keen on the UK economic recovery story.”

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