Aviva reinstates dividend, ITV first-half profit slides
The FTSE 100 is expected to open 37 points lower on Thursday, having closed up 1.14% at 6,104.72 on Wednesday.
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Insurer Aviva reinstated its dividend but said it would review its payout policy as half-year profit fell on coronavirus-related and weather claims. The company on Thursday declared a 6p-a-share dividend. Operating profit fell to £1.25bn from £1.38bn. Aviva took a £165m hit from Covid-19 on general insurance claims. “While the Board continues to monitor the impact of COVID-19 and the economic outlook carefully and with appropriate prudence, we have decided to take the opportunity to review our longer term dividend policy, in light of our strategic priorities and the future shape of the group, with the objective of a sustainable pay-out and lower leverage.”
ITV's first-half profit fell 93% as the Covid-19 crisis caused revenue to fall and exceptional costs to increase. Pretax profit for the six months to the end of June dropped to £15m from £222m as revenue fell to £1.22bn from £1.48bn. Adjusted earnings before interest, tax and amortisation fell 50% to £165m.
Phoenix Group reported “strong” cash generation of £433m in its first half on Thursday, up from £287m year-on-year. The FTSE 100 insurance firm said that resilience supported an interim dividend of 23.4p per share. It said group operating profit rose to £361m for the six months ended 30 June, from £325m a year earlier, while assets under administration remained stable at £248bn.
Shoppers continued to stay away from UK high streets last month despite the reopening of non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants following the lifting of lockdown measures. The number of visitors to UK retail destinations dropped by 39.4% in July compared with the same month a year ago, according to figures from Springboard, a data company that tracks footfall at consumer hotspots. – Guardian
Record numbers of people in Britain are looking for temporary work as job losses across the country mount, according to recruitment firms that have been flooded with CVs. The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and the accountancy firm KPMG said the number of people signing up to find temporary work rose in July at the fastest pace since records began in 1997. – Guardian
Restaurants and pubs enjoyed a much-needed uplift in visitors this week as the prospect of a half price meal encouraged people out of their homes. – Telegraph
TikTok is to open its first data centre in Europe in a $500 million investment, cementing the company’s determination to remain active outside the United States in the face of a potential ban by President Trump. Bytedance, the Chinese owner of the popular video-sharing app, said that TikTok would build its third data centre, picking Ireland alongside its two existing bases in America and Singapore. – The Times
Uber has moved one step closer to its ambition of helping to provide transport wherever its customers are after buying a platform that will link users to taxi firms in areas it does not operate in. The ride-hailing group is acquiring Autocab, a British company that provides software to private hire and taxi operators that allows them to share workloads, as well as an app called iGo. The iGo network allows users to connect with a local taxi firm and is used by 52 per cent of the private hire and taxi market in the UK, from Oxford to Doncaster to Swansea. – The Times
Wall Street stocks closed in the green on Wednesday, as market participants looked to Washington for news on another Covid-19 stimulus package and thumbed over a slew of data releases.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the session up 1.39% at 27,201.52, the S&P 500 added 0.64% at 3,327.77, and the Nasdaq Composite was 0.52% firmer at 10,998.40.
At the open, the Dow was 271.97 points higher, extending gains recorded in the previous session amid reports of possible further fiscal stimulus in the pipeline and some positive news on the pandemic front.
Investors were still closely monitoring the stimulus discussions on Capitol Hill at the open on Wednesday, with both the White House and Democratic Congress members indicating some progress had been made in negotiations.
However, the two parties were said to still be separated on several key issues, with reports out late in the day suggesting Democrats and Republicans were hopeful of reaching a deal by the end of the week.
Also in focus was news that senior US and Chinese officials were planning to assess the pair's trade agreement later in August amid heightened tensions between the countries.
The discussion on the so-called phase-one deal, led by US trade representative Robert Lighthizer and Chinese vice-premier Liu He, will reportedly take place on or around 15 August - six months after the agreement first came into effect.