Lloyds Bank to pay quarterly dividends, Countryside sees half-year profits rise
The FTSE 100 is expected to open four points lower on Thursday, having closed up 0.76% at 7,296.95 on Wednesday.
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Lloyds on Thursday said it would start to pay quarterly dividends to its 2.4m shareholders from June 2020 amid a row over executive pensions at Britain's largest retail bank. Shareholders were being urged to vote down the package at Thursday's annual meeting as as MPs accused Lloyds executives of "boundless greed". Britain's largest retail bank said it would pay three equal interim ordinary dividend payments for the first three quarters of the year followed by, subject to performance, a larger final dividend for the final three months. The first three quarterly payments, payable in June, September and December will be 20% of the previous year's total payout.
Burberry's underlying profit was unchanged last year as cost cuts offset a decline in revenue at the luxury clothing brand. Adjusted operating profit for the year to the end of March fell 6% to £438m but excluding currency movements profit was flat. Revenue at constant exchange rates fell 1% to £2.72bn and operating costs fell 1% to £1.42bn.
Micro Focus updated the market on its trading for the six months ended 30 April on Thursday, reporting that its collection of aged trade receivables had continued in line with management expectations. The FTSE 100 software company said that since the end of April, it had effected a return of value of $1.8bn using the proceeds of the SUSE business disposal, which completed on 15 March. Its board said it was continuing to target a mid-term net debt-to-adjusted EBITDA ratio of 2.7 times.
Countryside Properties posted a rise in half-year profit on Thursday as completions and revenue rose and the home builder said it was on track to deliver volume and margin expectations for the full year. In the six months to 31 March, adjusted operating profit was up 11% at £89.4m, while completions increased 43% to 2,362 and adjusted revenue jumped 20% to £563.7m.
Huawei has criticised as “unreasonable” Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to ban technology from “foreign adversaries” that is deemed to pose a risk to national security. In a statement reported by the state-run Global Times, Huawei said: “If the US restricts Huawei, it will not make the US safer, nor will it make the US stronger. It will only force the US to use inferior and expensive alternative equipment, lagging behind other countries ... and ultimately harming US companies and consumers.” – Guardian
The cost of HS2 should be slashed by limiting the speed of trains and making its London terminus Old Oak Common rather than Euston, according to a critical House of Lords report, which warns that better northern rail connections could be lost if the project blows its budget. In a report that could stoke further doubts over high-speed rail after Conservative leadership candidates discussed axing the project, the Lords economic affairs committee said it was “far from convinced” that the £55.7bn price was credible, and the government should publish a new cost-benefit analysis. – Guardian
Some of the world’s largest technology companies have pledged to boost the number of women on their management boards to 30pc by 2022. At a “Tech for good” summit in Paris on Wednesday, a total of 45 technology companies, including Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, IBM, Booking.com and Uber signed a pledge to meet the target in a bid to open up their boards to more women. – Telegraph
Non-Standard Finance will push ahead with its £1.3bn hostile bid for larger rival Provident Financial after declaring the deal unconditional. The company had until 5pm on May 15 to reveal whether or not the unsolicited approach had received a valid number of acceptances for it to proceed. – Telegraph
The Conservative government is “not on the side” of small business owners, according to a study that accuses it of stifling entrepreneurship. Small companies are being undermined by a tax and administration regime that is seen as “far too complicated, costly and bureaucratic”, making it “harder than it should be” to run and grow a business, a report by the Centre for Policy Studies, a centre-right think tank, said. – The Times
Markets in the US reversed their opening fortunes to finish in the green on Wednesday, a day after the Dow’s strongest performance in a month, as trade concerns continued to mount.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the session up 0.45% at 25,648.02, the S&P 500 added 0.58% to 2,850.96, and the Nasdaq 100 was ahead 1.37% at 7,503.25.
At the open, the Dow had lost more than 75 points, after closing more than 200 points higher on Tuesday.
That was its best day in a month, and was seen as a recovery from Wall Street’s tumble on Monday on the back of an announcement from China that it would raise tariffs on $60bn worth of US imports on 1 June.
Despite Donald Trump, who took to Twitter earlier in the week to warn China that it would "hurt very badly" if it failed to make a trade deal, softening his tone on America's trade war with China on Tuesday, referring to it as a "little squabble" and insisting talks had not collapsed, international trade looked set to remain a key focus for market participants, with the president expected to decide on Friday whether or not to impose car tariffs on Europe.