Kingfisher buys online platform NeedHelp, Melrose trading at top of expectations
The FTSE 100 is expected to open 29 points higher on Wednesday, having closed up 1.55% on Tuesday at 6,432.17.
Stocks to watch
B&Q owner Kingfisher said it had bought online European home improvement services platform NeedHelp for €10m (£9m). As part of the transaction, Guillaume de Kergariou, the founder of NeedHelp, has reinvested proceeds from the sale in a 20% interest in the business, resulting in Kingfisher owning 80%, the company said on Wednesday. NeedHelp is an online platform that connects customers who need home improvement help, either in-store or online, with vetted professional tradespeople and other skilled experts, Kingfisher said.
Melrose Industries said it was trading at the top of board expectations but the company was cautious about the outlook. Aerospace sales fell 37% in the four months to the end of October but the automotive and metallurgy business picked up with an improving trend. Nortek Air Management revenue rose 13%. "Your board is encouraged by this, but clearly given the global uncertainty caution is required on any predictions for next year," the FTSE 100 company said.
United Utilities reported a 16% fall in its underlying profit after tax for the first half on Wednesday, to £174m, which it said reflected new price controls. The FTSE 100 company said its revenue for the six months ended 30 September totalled £894.4m, down from £935.5m. It declared an interim dividend of 14.41p per share, rising from the 14.2p it paid at the interim last year.
The government has privately admitted the UK faces an increased likelihood of “systemic economic crisis” as it completes its exit from the European Union in the middle of a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. A confidential Cabinet Office briefing seen by the Guardian also warns of a “notable risk” that in coming months the country could face a perfect storm of simultaneous disasters, including the prospect of a bad flu season on top of the medical strains caused by Covid. - Guardian
Up to 60 Debenhams shops could close next year, putting thousands of jobs at risk, as part of a rescue deal for the beleaguered department store group. Shares in JD Sports fell more than 6% on Tuesday after it emerged the company was in exclusive talks to buy Debenhams, in a move that would take the sports and casual wear group into a tough new market. - Guardian
Pubs risk losing sales worth £1.5bn in December alone as Boris Johnson’s tough new regional tier system looks set to deliver a further blow to the beleaguered sector, industry chiefs warned. When England's lockdown ends on 2 December, pubs operating in tier two will only be allowed to serve customers alcohol if they also order a substantial meal, while those in tier three can only operate for takeaway sales. - Telegraph
Councils have been handed tough new powers allowing them to shut down businesses for up to a week for flouting Covid rules, Downing Street has announced. Business leaders warned against a “heavy-handed” approach to the “incredibly stringent” powers that will help local authorities tackle firms failing to make their premises Covid-secure. - Telegraph
Retailers that paid out dividends after a boost in sales during lockdown are under growing pressure to hand back millions of pounds of taxpayer support after the boss of AO World said that executives “should go and ask their mum if she would be proud”. John Roberts, 47, said that the online electricals retailer had returned business rates relief and furlough cash after sales and profits had boomed during the pandemic. - The Times
Wall Street stocks closed sharply higher on Tuesday after the Trump administration finally signalled its willingness to begin the transition process.
At the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1.54% at 30,046.24, while the S&P 500 was 1.62% firmer at 3,635.41 and the Nasdaq Composite saw out the session 1.31% stronger at 12,036.79.
The Dow Jones closed 454.97 points higher on Tuesday, pushing the blue-chip index over 30,000 for the first time ever as it extended yesterday's vaccine-fuelled rally that came on the back of a strong efficacy test from AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford's candidate.
Major indices turned positive after General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy informed President-elect Joe Biden that the White House had made federal resources available for his transition into the Oval Office.
While Trump said he was in favour of the move, he also refused to concede the election yet again and vowed to "keep up the good fight".