Revenue and earnings rise at CRH, NMC Health on track for full-year forecasts
The FTSE 100 is expected to open 18 points lower on Thursday, having closed up 1.11% at 7,203.97 on Wednesday.
Stocks to watch
Building materials group CRH posted record first-half earnings on Thursday and said it expects to buy back a further €350m in shares by the end of the year. In the six months to the end of June, earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were up 36% to €1.5bn, with revenue up 11% to €13.2bn as the company's improvement programme bore fruit.
GlaxoSmithKline announced on Thursday that its specialist HIV company ViiV Healthcare had reported positive headline results from its global phase 3 ATLAS-2M study of the investigational, long-acting, injectable, 2-drug regimen of its cabotegravir and Janssen's rilpivirine for the treatment of HIV. The FTSE 100 pharmaceuticals company said the study met its primary endpoint, showing that the long-acting regimen of cabotegravir and rilpivirine, injected every two months, was non-inferior to cabotegravir and rilpivirine administered every month at week 48. ViiV Healthcare is majority-owned by GlaxoSmithKline, with Pfizer and Shionogi as minority shareholders.
NMC Health remained on track to meet full year expectations as it reported a 33% increase in interim revenue to $1.24bn, while earnings and profits also enjoyed double-digit growth following a strong performance from the Middle East-focused healthcare chain's maternity & fertility division. NMC's chief executive added that the business is now well positioned to establish a dominant position in the attractive Saudi Arabia healthcare market after forming a "strategically important partnership" with GOSI/Hassana Investment Company.
Emmanuel Macron will hold a friendly but “frank” working lunch with Boris Johnson on Thursday after dismissing his request to renegotiate the Brexit withdrawal agreement and scrap the Irish backstop as “not an option”. The French president told reporters on Wednesday night that there was a “British democratic crisis” over Brexit and he was seeking “clarification” from Johnson on his proposals as the 31 October exit date approaches. – Guardian
Tesco has pledged to step up its efforts in the battle against single-use plastic with measures that include banning brands using excessive packaging from Britain’s largest supermarket chain. Dave Lewis, Tesco’s chief executive, said the company would “reserve the right not to list” products with too much non-recyclable packaging from next year onwards, in an article published on theguardian.com. – Guardian
Fears have been raised that Greene King’s shock sale to one of Asia’s richest families is “almost certain” to result in pubs being shut and could lead to the sale of its famous Bury St Edmunds brewery. CK Asset, part of the empire built by 91-year-old billionaire Li Ka-shing, struck a £4.6bn deal on Monday to buy the 220-year-old Suffolk brewer. The swoop was at a premium of more than 50pc of Greene King’s share price. – Telegraph
Britain’s trade transport system is no longer fit for purpose. Today’s deformed structure amounts to a failure of statecraft over decades and - as we are discovering - is a potential threat to economic national security. Goods from Germany’s Ruhr Valley or the manufacturing clusters of Baden-Württemberg are transported in lorries to the Channel and from there to Leeds, Doncaster, Sheffield, or Manchester in the UK’s industrial heartland. – Telegraph
Ferguson has held talks with investors about relocating its stock market listing to New York. Executives at the FTSE 100 plumbing and heating group are understood to have received a mixed response to the idea of quitting London, which would require the backing of three-quarters of shareholders. – The Times
The world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund lifted its investment in equities to a record high in the second quarter. Norway’s huge oil fund said that 69.3 percent of its assets were in shares, up from 66.3 per cent at the end of last year and only 61.2 percent three years earlier. – The Times
Wall Street stocks closed higher on Wednesday as investors digested some solid figures from major retailers and minutes from the last meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee to be published.
At the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.93% at 26,202.73, while the S&P 500 was ahead 0.82% at 2,924.43 and the Nasdaq Composite closed 0.90% firmer at 8,020.21.
The Dow closed 240.29 points higher on Wednesday after closing lower in the previous session, snapping a three-day winning streak with market participants focussed on the state of US-China relations and the outlook for monetary policy.
For the most part, investors mulled over minutes from the Federal Reserve's latest meeting, which revealed the central bank had no pre-set course for cutting rates.
Back in July, the Fed announced a 25 basis point cut to official short-term interest rates in what it called a "mid-cycle adjustment". However, shortly after the interest rate decision, US-China trade tensions increased, as did speculation that the Fed would soon cut rates again.
Several analysts were expecting the FOMC to lower rates 50 basis points instead of 25 when it next convened on 17-18 September.