Some investor relief after Emmanuel Macron claimed an emphatic victory in the French election yesterday. The Nikkei climbed by more than 2% to a 17-month high. The euro also climbed to a one-year peak of almost 1.24.60 against the yen. However Macron’s victory had been priced in, to some degree, by the markets.
Elsewhere, Chinese exports for April were up 8% year-on-year though the data is weaker than expected. Friday saw the FTSE 100 close at 7,290.50 with shares in IAG and M&S both up strongly, 5.5% and 4.2% respectively. The Dow Jones finished Friday up 0.26% at 21,006.94.
This morning Centrica, the owner of British Gas, says profit margins are under pressure in its core energy supply business for the last quarter thanks to better weather in both the UK and the US. Centrica also revealed that 261,000 customers had deserted it for other suppliers.
However boss Iain Conn remains bullish on 2017 targets. Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement that a general election win may see intervention in the UK energy supply market – with a possible price cap – is (no surprise) not supported by Conn.
“Evidence from other countries,” says Conn, “would suggest this will lead to reduced competition and choice, and potentially higher average prices.” Efficiency savings of £250m are expected in addition to 2016 savings of £384m says the company.
Half-year results for stockbroker group Numis are in. Revenues have slipped 8% to £52.4m against record high revenues recorded a year ago says Numis. European equities revenues sees a 31% bump to £23.4m.
There was a hit to corporate broking and advisory revenue, down 26% to £29m. Profits before tax is lowered 38% to £10.5m, which includes £1.4m of net gains on its strategic investment portfolio Numis says.
The dividend remains unchanged at 5.50p.“Overall staff numbers were largely unchanged and we believe our revenue per head remains favourable when compared to industry peers,” says the company.
“We have had to expand our security focus,” it says, “from traditional abusive behaviour, such as account hacking, malware, spam and financial scams, to include more subtle and insidious forms of misuse, including attempts to manipulate civic discourse and deceive people.”
Facebook claims it has removed many “thousands” of fake accounts and is issuing tips for people to identify fake information. Conservative MP Damian Collins last month asked Facebook to renew its efforts; Collins launched a parliamentary inquiry into the issue in January.