London pre-open: Stocks set to dip tracking profit-taking on Wall Street
Stocks are set for a lower start at the end of the week, tracking profit-taking on Wall Street overnight after Bloomberg reported that Democrats in Congress wanted to double the capital gains tax to nearly 39.6%.
Futures tracking the FTSE 100 are dipping by 35.0 points to 6,869.0.
Nevertheless, as Michael Hewson, chief market analysts at CMC Markets UK pointed out: "While one could argue that the prospect of higher taxes is never welcome, and a doubling of a key tax rate even more so, the likelihood of anything of this nature passing through an evenly split Congress, lies somewhere between slim and none, however in these highly uncertainty times it doesn’t take much to spook a little bit of profit taking, in what has already been a very choppy week. The reality is taxes may rise but certainly not by as much being touted."
According to the Office for National Statistics, UK retail sales surged at a month-on-month pace of 5.4% in March (consensus: 1.5%).
That drove the year-on-year rate of increase from -3.7% to 7.2% (consensus: 3.5%).
First Group sells assets to lower debt pile
FirstGroup has agreed to sell its First Student and First Transit US bus businesses to EQT Infrastructure for an enterprise value of £3.3bn. The UK transport group said it would use £2.19bn of initial net proceeds to cut debt, pay into its pension schemes and return £365m, or 30p a share, to shareholders during 2021.
GlaxoSmithKline said the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved ‘Jemperli’, or dostarlimab-gxly, based on its Biologics License Application. The AIM-traded firm said dostarlimab, a programmed death receptor-1 (PD-1) blocking antibody, is indicated for the treatment of adult patients with mismatch repair-deficient recurrent or advanced endometrial cancer, as determined by an FDA-approved test, that have progressed on or following prior treatment with a platinum-containing regimen. It said the indication was given accelerated approval based on tumour response rate and durability of response.
LondonMetric Property has sold two long income assets let to Marks & Spencer and Wickes in Derby for a combined £11.1m to unnamed buyers. The sale represents a blended net initial yield of 6% and a 7% surplus to the last reported book value. One property is a M&S Foodhall, sold by way of a forward commitment to an overseas private investor for £6.2m and the other a Wickes store, sold to an overseas property company for £4.9m.