Mondi earnings fall in third quarter, Hargreaves Lansdown revenue improves
The FTSE 100 is expected to open 18 points higher on Thursday, having closed up 0.33% at 7,166.50 on Wednesday.
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Third quarter core earnings at paper manufacturer Mondi fell 18% year on year as demand remained soft and prices weakened compared with the first half of the year. Underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation came in at €383m compared with €466m in the same period last year and 9% lower than the second quarter's €423m. “Lower average selling prices from the highs reached towards the end of 2018 and into early 2019, coupled with the anticipated lower forestry fair value gain, more than offset the benefits of our ongoing profit improvement initiatives,” the company said on Thursday.
Galliford Try said it had won contracts with two water companies worth around £340m to the company. The company on Thursday said it would provide construction services to Southern Water as part of a five year deal worth £240m to Galliford. A second similar deal with Yorkshire Water will bring in £100m.
Auto distributor Inchcape said it was selling its fleet solutions business to Japan's Toyota for total cash £100m in cash following the recent disposals of “less productive” dealerships in the UK, and retail-only disposals in Australia and China.
Hargreaves Lansdown reported net new business of £1.7bn in the three-month period ended 30 September on Thursday, and net new clients of 35,000. The FTSE 100 financial services provider said its assets under administration was up 3% over the prior quarter, at £101.8bn, while net revenue grew by 6% year-on-year to £128.1m.
Dunelm reported a 6.4% increase in total like for like sales to £255.6 in its first quarter after online sales leapt by 35% to £35.7m. The home furnishings retailer said it remained confident in full-year expectations and added that the period had seen its gross margin improve by approximately 130bps as a result of the lower levels of clearance stock.
Prosecutors for the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) say attempts by former Barclays bank bosses to show advisory services provided by Qatar were merely a “smoke-screen” to try to “legitimise” fraudulent payments to the Gulf state in 2008. A jury at the Old Bailey in London heard that former banking executives tried to gather evidence that would show that payments to Qatar were made in exchange for genuine advisory services, rather than a way of disguising illegitimate fees worth £322m. – Guardian
Poor pay and punitive working conditions are common on farms and plantations that supply fresh fruit or tea to major UK supermarkets including Lidl, Aldi, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrisons, according to new research published by a leading international charity. The report from Oxfam claims that the supermarkets’ “relentless” drive to maximise profits is fuelling poverty and gender discrimination in their retail supply chains. Its research is based on in-depth interviews with workers in India and Brazil and a separate survey in five other countries. – Guardian
UK drivers on Shell’s loyalty scheme will soon be able to offset their environmental impact by planting more trees as Big Oil responds to fears about climate change. From next week, customers can opt into the carbon credit initiative, which will see Shell invest £10m towards the restoration of forests to atone for drivers’ emissions. The plans have been criticised ahead of their launch next week as an attempt to greenwash the industry’s image. – Telegraph
British Airways is to offset carbon emissions for all UK domestic flights from next year as part of a wider commitment by its parent company to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Emissions from domestic BA flights will be offset by International Airlines Group investing in carbon reduction projects, including renewable energy and reforestation programmes. BA operates up to 75 UK domestic flights a day. – The Times
The directors of an under-performing £500 million London-listed investment trust have been accused of treating shareholders poorly while allowing the fund managers to pocket high fees. Fund managers appointed by Boussard & Gavaudan Holding have been paid €102 million over the past five years, while the total return to shareholders has been an underwhelming 5.7 per cent per year. – The Times
US stocks closed higher on Wednesday after reports circulated that Beijing was open to a partial trade deal with Washington.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.7% at 26,346.01, the S&P 500 added 0.91% to 2,919.40, and the Nasdaq 100 was ahead 1.13% at 7,690.53.
Sentiment was lifted slightly on Wednesday by a Bloomberg report indicating that China was open to a limited tariff resolution with the US, although Beijing would not move on certain major sticking points.
A separate report from the Financial Times said that China had already offered to increase its purchases of US agriculture products by 50% to $50bn.
High-level trade negotiations between both nations were set to begin in Washington on Thursday but the day before an unnamed Chinese official told Bloomberg that negotiators were not optimistic about securing a broad agreement to fully end the trade conflict.