FTSE 100 Live 21 March: Oil prices rise after Saudi attacks, London shares rally


FTSE ends higher after JP Morgan backs Britain

The FTSE 100 is heading into the close up about 0.5%, supported by rallying energy and commodity stocks.

BP and Shell are both up over 4% as oil once again rallies. Brent crude is up 6.4% at $ 114 a barrel as hopes of peace between Russia and Ukraine fade, and an attack on a Saudi refinery over the weekend raises further concerns about global supply.

Elsewhere, commodity stocks are also banking big gains after JP Morgan said in a note this morning that UK-listed mining and material stocks were a good way to gain exposure to Chinese stimulus. Anglo American is up over 6%, while Glencore and Rio Tinto have both improved more than 3%.

The best performer of the day though is Antofagasta, the Chilean metals miner, which has rallied over 8% after striking a deal to exit a controversial mining project in Pakistan.

The FTSE 250 is not having such a good day: the index is down about 144 points, or 0.6%. The mid-cap index has more of a domestic focus than the bluechip 100 and fears about the UK’s cost of living crisis appear to be hitting sentiment. The consumer cyclicals segment of the index – goods and services that people buy when they have spare cash, like luxury clothing or cinema tickets – is down 1.6% today, per Reuters data.

That’s all from us on the blog today, join us again tomorrow.


Entain board member Isola steps down

Gambling firm Entain has said its non-executive director Peter Isola has stepped down.

Isola, one of Gibraltar’s most senior lawyers, is an expert in gaming law and regulation and his experience includes advising numerous e-commerce clients.

He joined the board of GVC, as Entain was then called, in February 2016, and served on its audit, remuneration and ESG committees.

Gibraltar is a hub for many gambling firms, in large part due to its lower taxes, although some of the benefits were curbed by the UK government in 2014 when it launched its Remote Gaming Duty, aimed at taxing offshore firms’ UK activities.

Since 2007 Mr Isola has been a Senior Partner at Isolas in Gibraltar, and was initially called to the Bar of England and Wales and the Gibraltar Bar in 1982.

A statement by Entain said Isola had “stepped down as a non-executive director with effect from 21 March 2022 to focus on other opportunities”.

Barry Gibson, chairman of Entain, thanked Isola for his “significant contribution and commitment to Entain over the last six years”.


BP and Shell shares buoyed by rebounding oil price

Shares in BP and Royal Dutch Shell are responding positively to the rise in oil prices today, with both stocks up for the day so far.

BP’s shares are up 4.1% to 375.3p at present, with Shell’s just over 3.8% at £ 20.16.

The movement comes as the price of Brent crude oil is up more than 6% today to $ 115 a barrel.

The FTSE 100’s other commodity giants are leading the index higher in afternoon trading, with Antofagasta up more than 6.5% to £ 17.32 and Anglo American up nearly 4.6% to £ 38.53.

Firms that rely on discretionary spending, such as gambling companies and retailers, are struggling in today’s session, with Flutter Entertainment down nearly 4.7% to £ 91.42.


London Stock Exchange comfirms sale of processing firm BETA +

London Stock Exchange has confirmed it will sell its BETA + business in a $ 1.1 billion deal.

The firm said the sale is expected to complete in the second half of the year having overcome antitrust scrutiny in the US.

The California-based private equity firm Clearlake Capital Group and financial services-focused investment firm Motive Partners have bought the BETA + business, which provides back-office processing solution to the wealth management industry and had revenues of $ 300m in 2021.

The LSE said the sale would help it reduce its debt levels, adding that it expected to return a “significant proportion” of the net proceeds to shareholders via a share buyback.


China plane crash hits Boeing share price

Boeing’s shares have fallen nearly 10% in the wake of a plane crash in China that killed 132 people.

The American airplane manufacturer’s share price dropped to $ 176., Meaning they have nearly fallen by a third in the past year.

The China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 crashed in mountains in southern China on a domestic flight on Monday following a sudden descent from cruising altitude.

The share price drop comes just weeks after the Federal Aviation Administration needs a “systemic fix” from Boeing to address 787 Dreamliner production issues.

Boeing has not delivered any new 787 passenger jets to airlines since May 2021, when for a second time safety regulators halted deliveries because they found production flaws in the planes.


Royal Mint to extract gold from old laptops

The Royal Mint is set to recover gold from old laptops and smartphones in what is says is a world first.

The commemorative coin maker, now producing a Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games 50p and a Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen 50p, above, is building a new facility in South Wales as part of an environmentally focused scheme.

The project will recover the precious metal from old circuit boards using a new extraction method developed by Canadian recycling specialist Excir.

The new plant will become fully operational in 2023, when the Royal Mint expects to process up to 90 tonnes of gold from UK-sourced circuit boards a week. Construction begins this month.


PZ Cussons snaps up kids shampoo maker

The maker of St Tropez fake tan and Carex hand soap has snapped up kids’ bath wash and shampoo-maker Childs Farm in a £ 40 million deal.

PZ Cussons has bought a 92% stake in Childs Farm for £ 36.8 million from founder Joanna Jensen, who will remain an investor. PZ is also paying off Childs Farm loans worth £ 3.1 million.

PZ Cussons boss Jonathan Myers said his company would have full ownership of Childs Farm by May 2025. The brand is known for its natural ingredients, sustainability credentials and vegan products.

Childs Farm, which launched in 2011, is close to achieving its B Corp status, a certification given to companies that have to meet certain ethical and environmental standards. PZ Cussons is also aiming for this certification.

PZ Cussons will buy Jensen’s stake in two tranches, with the price based on a metric related to the firm’s profits, capped at £ 32.5 million.


London Stock Exchange to offload assets for $ 1 billion

The London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) has reportedly inked a $ 1 billion (£ 760 million) deal to offload assets to private equity companies Motive Partners and Clearlake Capital Group.

The portfolio, named BETA +, was acquired as part of LSEG’s $ 27 billion (£ 20.5 billion) takeover of financial market data provider Refinitiv in January 2021. BETA + is a technology platform used for wealth management.

LSEG declined to comment on the deal, first reported by Sky News.


‘Set up petrol watchdog to stop profiteering’

Petrol prices have once again risen to a record high over the weekend: the average price of petrol hitting 167p a liter on Sunday and diesel hitting an average 179p, according to the RAC.

The government is being urged to set up a watchdog for petrol retailers as prices surge.

Howard Cox, founder or FairFuelUK, said the government should clamp down on what he called “opportunistic profiteering” by forecourt owners, suggesting formal oversight was required.

“We think the government could support an early day motion for a fuel price watchdog, not a full regulatory body like Ofgem, but something like an adjudicator,” he told the Standard.

Read the full story.


FTSE 100 in demand as oil surges

A major Wall Street bank today urged its clients to buy British as part of a strategy for benefiting from a more favorable backdrop for the Chinese economy.

JP Morgan expects Beijing policymakers to step up their stimulus efforts throughout this year as they look to deliver on target for 5.5% growth.

The bank’s analysts believe the best way to position for this potential upturn in activity is through indirect exposure, including to cyclicals, emerging markets and the commodity-focused UK.

JP Morgan has been overweight on the London market since the end of last year, having also noted the appeal of one of the world’s best average dividend yields.

This buy British message continued to be heard by global investors today as the FTSE 100 index outperformed European markets to jump another 38.54 points to 7443.27.

The top flight is now comfortably higher than the start of 2022 and close to recouping the losses seen since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the end of February.

There was little sign of the recent trends changing today after Brent crude surged more than 4% to push commodity-focused stocks up the FTSE 100 risers board. BP rose 3% or 11p to 371.4p and Shell lifted 54.8p to 1996.6p.

In the mining sector Anglo American set the pace after improving 4% or 139p to 3823p. Copper miner Antofagasta also jumped 69.5p to 1696.5p as it said it had resolved a long-running dispute concerning the Reki Diq project in Pakistan.

The session saw investors rotate away from growth stocks, with Ocado and Flutter Entertainment among those trading 3% or more lower.

Without as much support from commodity-focused stocks, the FTSE 250 index fell by 105.99 points to 21,050.63. Stocks under pressure included easyJet after a drop of 3%, while there were also big losses for JD Wetherspoon and Balfour Beatty.


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