Asian stocks continued to rise overnight – better earnings power from Japanese business saw the Nikkei hit 20,951, up +0.34% while Singapore and Sensex indexes climbed +0.74% and +0.42% – helped by strong US stocks sentiment yesterday. Better mood music from the US Federal Reserve last night helped row things along.
The new US Fed minutes showed a push to hike rates again in 2017. “Many participants,” it said, “thought that another increase in the target range later this year was likely to be warranted if the medium-term outlook remained broadly unchanged.”
However stubbornly low inflation continues to irk the Fed. There’s also continued tension between higher rates and Donald Trump’s wish for a low-rate ‘growth’ environment. Either way, the US minutes were a reasonable health reading (though the massive amassing of central bank assets remains troubling which, in turn, has distorted many asset prices).
The dollar spot slipped -0.15% overnight to 92.83 from an opening 92.98; a little after 7am the euro was up +0.16% to $1.1875 while the pound slipped under $1.32 to $1.3193, down -0.06%. New North Korean tensions have pushed gold higher, up +0.67%.
- UK FTSE 100 7,533.81 -0.06%
- Dow 22,872.89 +0.18%
- S&P 500 2,555.24 +0.18%
- Nasdaq 6,603.55 +0.25%
- Nikkei 225 20,974.35 +0.45%
- DAX 12,970.68 +0.17%
- CAC 40 5,362.41 -0.02%
- Gold 1,297.50 +0.67%
- Oil WTI 50.97 -0.64%
Sky profits surge to £606m but key shareholder vote looms
A rash of company results today including Sky and WH Smith. First, Sky. For the last quarter to 30 September Sky reports a +15% profits climb to £606m adding more than 150,000 customers. There’s a +5% hike in sales overall to £3.3bn.
Sky claims it is now past the 60m subscription milestone. Pay-as-you-go sports and entertainment grew +12% to 9.6m it claims. “Despite the uncertainty in the broader consumer environment, we remain on track with our plans and enter the busy Q2 trading period focused on delivering our clear strategy for growth."
Sky’s AGM is today but there is unease over Sky chairman James Murdoch’s role given Fox’s takeover Sky bid – clear worries over independence (or lack of). Several key shareholders are poised to express their unhappiness, including Royal London.
Booker profits up; WH Smith travel mood improves
Next, Tesco’s hoped-for quarry Booker Group. For the 24 weeks to 8 September operating profit climbs +9% to £89.1m while total sales are up +2.5% to £2.6bn. Like-for-like sales improve +2.7%.
The Competition and Markets Authority investigation into a possible Tesco-Booker merger are on-going with provisional findings to be made public at the end of this month, ahead of a final report end of year.
"Booker Group continues to make good progress with like-for-like non tobacco sales up +7.7%. Our plans to Focus, Drive and Broaden Booker Group are on track.” It adds… “The competition review of the planned merger with Tesco is progressing.”
Breaking news: Recruiter Hays claims a +10% leap in net fees, rising +15% in Germany though UK fee growth was much slower – up just +1%.