FTSE 100 Live: Oxford Nanopore surges on debut, commodity stocks higher – Evening Standard

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terling continues to trade at its lowest level since December after stagflation fears triggered by the recent spike in energy prices helped accelerate the flight towards the US dollar.

The pound is now at 1.34 versus the greenback, with the US currency increasingly seen as a safe haven for investors worried about recent economic developments.

Live updates

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FTSE closes lower

The FTSE 100 has ended the day lower, down 21 points – or 0.3% – at 7086.

Commodity stocks held on to their gains and in fact pushed higher — Evraz closed up 3% — but other sectors lost momentum. British American Tobacco was the biggest loser, down 4.8%.

That’s all from us today. Have a good evening and we’ll see you tomorrow.

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Pressure on the pound eases

Sterling is rallying off recent lows after a sustained sell-off in recent days.

The pound is up 0.4% against the dollar to $1.3481 and up 0.5% against the euro to €1.1634. The currency is being helped today by better-than-expected GDP numbers out this morning.

Deutsche Bank today upgraded its forecast for GDP growth in the UK to 7.1% this year. However the bank slashed its forecast for growth next year, saying it now sees growth of just 3.6%, compared to an earlier estimate of 5% expansion.

Despite today’s rally, the pound remains around 1.5% down on where it started the week.

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FTSE marginally higher at lunchtime

The FTSE 100 is up 11 points, or 0.1%, this lunchtime to 7119.

The index is being propped up by commodity stocks, with Anglo American and Evraz both leading the index with gains of more than 2%. Diageo is not far behind after an upbeat AGM statement.

Chief executive Ivan Menezes told investors that the FTSE 100 firm is seeing its north American business “performing strongly, despite some supply chain constraints”.

Menezes expects organic operating margin to benefit from a further recovery in sales numbers.

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Fashion firm H&M reports improved sales

High street fashion firm H&M said sales in September improved from the prior month, even as disruption and delays hit some products.

H&M has reported higher Q3 sales

/ PA Archive

The Stockholm-headquartered retailer said sales this month were “slightly higher” in local currencies.

Growth came “even though demand was not able to be fully met because of disruption and delays in product flow”.

H&M gave the update as it published third quarter to August 31 results that showed group sales in local currencies increased 14% from the same period last year. Online sales jumped 22% and gross profit was 19% higher.

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FirstGroup dips despite US Greyhound funding

Shares in transport operator FirstGroup have dipped 1% despite new funding in the US.

FirstGroup’s long haul bus business Greyhound has scored a grant of $84.6m from US Department of the Treasury’s Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (‘CERTS’) scheme. The funding can be used to keep key transport businesses running and can be spent on payroll and things like maintenance.

“As previously stated, Greyhound remains non-core to the Group and the Board continues to pursue all exit options for the business with sale discussions ongoing,” FirstGroup said.

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Positive quarter for FTSE 100

A rally for mining stocks means the London market will hobble over the finishing line still higher than where it started an increasingly fraught third quarter of the year.

The rotation into commodities followed some respite in the decline for iron ore prices, ensuring that shares in the likes of Anglo American and Rio Tinto are up by 2%.

The FTSE 100 index lifted 38.28 points to 7,146.44, despite worries persisting over the health of China’s economy after the latest manufacturing purchasing managers index showed factory activity contracted for the first time since the start of Covid-19.

The focus is now on whether China’s seven-day Golden Week holiday, which starts tomorrow and is a key barometer of economic health, sees a surge in domestic travel.

There’s also little end in sight for the country’s Evergrande crisis after Reuters reported that some offshore bondholders had not received interest payments due on Wednesday.

The fate of the debt-laden property firm is among several worries to cloud the outlook for global markets in recent days, with rising energy prices and the prospect of earlier-than-expected rises in interest rates adding to the volatility.

The worries have accelerated the flight to the US dollar, with sterling now at its lowest level against the greenback since December. It was little changed today at $1.34, reflecting a backdrop of stagflation fears and further rises in natural gas prices.

IG chief market analyst Chris Beauchamp said: “Talk of the pound being knocked around like an emerging market currency is back again, and is as usual somewhat wide of the mark, since it has not exactly been a great week for the euro, yen, or Aussie, but it does show that a seismic shift to the US currency is underway.”

The FTSE 100 index has benefited this year from the TINA effect — there is no alternative — as shares remain attractive due to poor returns on cash and government bonds. It is more than 10% higher over the year and will finish the September quarter 1% higher.

Stocks struggling today included Rolls-Royce after hitting an 18-month high earlier this week on the back of a deal with the US Air Force. Shares fell 2% or 3.3p to 141.3p.

The FTSE 250 index was 105.15 points higher at 23,256.12, led by online review business Trustpilot as shares jumped 5% or 17.8p to 375p.

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Virgin Money to axe branches, and jobs, in digital shake-up

Virgin Money is to close 31 branches leading to the loss of 112 jobs, the latest sign of banks withdrawing from the high street.

In a statement headlined “update on acceleration of digital strategy”, the bank said customers are “increasingly adopting” online banking.

While the move seems logical, it will prompt further questions from MPs, worried that some consumers will be left without a branch to go to.

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Boohoo warning on full year sales sends shares down 11%

Boohoo has lowered its full year sales guidance as global supply chain disruption and the high street reopening threatens to put the brakes on the fast fashion giant’s turbo-charged growth, sending its shares down 11%.

Boohoo saw sales leap during the pandemic

/ Boohoo

Shares in the online retailer dropped 28.4p to 227.6p, despite revenue in the six months in the August jumping 20% to a record £975.9 million.

Investors looked to focus on higher shipping costs, up £26 million in two years, contributing to pre-tax profits tumbling 64% to £24.6 million and a number of headwinds the AIM-listed retailer is grappling with.

Read the full story HERE.

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Oxford Nanopore surges on debut

Oxford Nanopore’s shares have got off to a flying start in one of London’s biggest stock market flotations this year.

The gene sequencing firm was initially valued at £3.4 billion after shares were priced at 425p, compared with a previous indicative price range of between 375p to 450p.

They were later changing hands at 552p, a jump of 30% amid strong demand from institutions during conditional dealings.

Oxford Nanopore, which was spun out from the University of Oxford in 2005, is raising proceedsof £350 million through the issue of new shares.

The biotech’s desktop and portable products enable the real-time and low-cost analysis of DNA and RNA by researchers both in the lab and in the field. It sequenced the genetic code of the Covid-19 virus to track the emergence of variants around the world and is also used in cancer research, viral outbreak surveillance and crop science.

Chief executive Gordon Sanghera said today his company is still “only in the foothills of a long and exciting journey”

“I believe that our unique technology will open up many new possibilities for positive impact, both through enabling new discoveries in scientific research, and through more accessible, faster, richer biological insights in health, agriculture, food and understanding environments.”

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Diageo shares lift on CEO’s upbeat pre-AGM update

Shares in Diageo rose by as much as 2% in early trading following a pre-AGM update from the drinks giant.

Chief executive Ivan Menezes told investors that the FTSE 100 firm, behind brands from Johnnie Walker to Guinness, is seeing its north American business “performing strongly, despite some supply chain constraints”.

In a statement, Menezes said the company expects organic operating margin to benefit from a further recovery in sales numbers, and said the group is managing rising inflationary pressures – including supply chain issues.

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