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Week in Review: Brighter economic outlook pushes FTSE 100 higher

21 May 2021

Categories: The week in review

FTSE news

The FTSE 100 rose 1% to 7,019.79 on Thursday (20 May) as investors were heartened by an improving economic picture in Europe and the US.

  • On Monday (24 May), Springboard publishes weekly data showing footfall across UK retail destinations.
  • Data firm Kantar reveals the latest market shares of the UK’s largest supermarkets on Tuesday (25 May).
  • On Wednesday (26 May), Zoopla releases its latest house price index, providing an up-to-date health reading for the property market.
  • The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders publishes monthly automotive manufacturing figures for April on Thursday (27 May).
  • On Friday (28 May), Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland publish their latest Business Barometer survey, citing the business confidence levels of firms in all sectors and regions of the UK.

Sector in focus

Trainline plc (TRN) shares crashed 23.2% on Thursday (20 May) after the Government unveiled plans to create a rival state-run ticketing app.

As part of a wider shake-up of the rail sector, the Government said Great British Railways (GBR), a new public rail operator, will provide a “one-stop shop” for rail services. The body will also set timetables and manage rail infrastructure.

At the moment, most train users buy their tickets from aggregator firms such as Trainline plc (TRN), at stations or from the relevant train franchise.

However, under the new plans GBR will sell tickets directly to travellers via its website and app, putting it in direct competition with third-party firms.

Analysts said the move will force companies such as Trainline plc (TRN) to rethink their business models.

The move is part of what has been dubbed the biggest reform of the UK’s railway system in decades.

In a statement released on Thursday, Trainline plc (TRN) said: “[We believe] the [Government’s] proposals will provide Trainline with new opportunities to innovate for the benefit of customers and further grow its business.”

Economic Update

Surging oil prices, household energy bills and clothing costs caused inflation to soar in April, according to official figures published this week.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows price inflation doubled from 0.7% in March to 1.5% in April – the largest monthly increase since the start of the pandemic.

Experts had expected prices to increase once the Government loosed some of its coronavirus restrictions, but the pace of the increase has taken many by surprise.

High inflation is a bad thing for the economy and individuals because it reduces the value of household savings and earnings, and therefore lowers the capacity for people to spend.

However, while inflation rose sharply in April, at 1.5% it is still running well below the Bank of England’s target of 2%.

Fund watch

If you need your portfolio to generate an income, you may want to consider Fidelity Multi-Asset Income W Inc (GB00BFPC0501). The fund invests in income-generating stocks, bonds and other assets, and aims to generate an income yield of 4-6% a year. It has an ongoing charge of 0.95% and has returned a little over 30% in total in five years.

ETF watch

With inflation rising, experts are divided on whether it’s a good time now to buy bonds. However, many investor hold bonds because they are less volatile than stocks and can reduce the overall risk of a portfolio. iShares Core Global Aggregate Bond ETF GBPHDist (AGBP) gives you exposure to thousands of global bonds for an ongoing charge of 0.1%. The fund has returned nearly 9.7% in total in three years.

Company announcements

26 MayMarks and Spencer Group plc (MKS) shook up its board earlier this week, promising it would “restore growth” after “fixing the basics”. Of course, that won’t happen overnight and therefore shareholders should not expect forecast-busting numbers when the retailer publishes its full-year results on Wednesday (26 May).

27 MayPets at Home Group plc (PETS) has benefitted from the boom in pet ownership during lockdown. In February, it increased its full-year underlying pre-tax profit guidance from £77m to £85m following a period of strong trading. It releases its full-year results on Thursday (27 May).

Author: MRM Categories: The week in review