The FTSE 100 finished lower for the second day running on Thursday (9 December) with investor sentiment knocked by the Government’s decision to introduce new coronavirus restrictions. London’s leading index fell 0.22% to 7,321.26.
SECTOR IN FOCUS
It has been a strong week for house builders, with Berkeley Group Holdings plc (BKG) leading the way following a robust interim update.
On Wednesday (8 December), the FTSE 100-listed builder lifted its earnings guidance for the next four years after benefitting from a rebound in London’s housing market.
The Cobham-based firm, which has a big presence in London and the South East, predicted full-year profits of around £562m – around 5% higher than analysts had estimated.
By 2024/25, it expects to make a profit in the region of £625m, by which time it predicts volumes to be 50% higher than pre-pandemic levels.
Analysts at Bank of America reiterated its “buy” rating for BKG shortly after the house builder released its results.
Prior to the publication of its interim results this week, BKG had lagged its peers in terms of share price growth. However, it topped the pile this week, with its shares up more than 5%.
Is the Bank of England preparing to deliver an unwanted early Christmas present in the shape of a rate rise? Not if you ask economists.
Analysts expect a majority of the BoE’s rate-setting Monetary Policy Committee to vote to keep rates on hold when they meet on Thursday (16 December).
Markets were expecting the first rate-rise in four years last month after inflation hit a 10-year high of 4.2% in October.
However, the rise of the Omicron variant has made the BoE’s rate-setting committee think twice about rocking the boat during a time of uncertainty.
Regardless, all eyes will be on the Office for National Statistics on Wednesday (15 December) when it releases inflation data for November.
If inflation jumps once again, investors will quite rightly question whether that makes a mid-December rate hike more likely.
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14 December - Ocado Group plc (OCDO) boomed during the pandemic, with lockdown leading to a spike in online grocery sales. However, it has since found it difficult to win over many analysts and investors, who have been less-than-impressed with its recent growth performance. That said, many analysts believe the firm’s long-term prospects look good, especially as the online grocery sector grows. The online supermarket publishes its latest trading update on Tuesday (14 December).
15 December - Electricals retailer Currys plc (CURY) revealed last month that it is on course to meet its full-year profit guidance as it announced a £75m share buyback. The retailer’s balance sheet has improved over the past 12 months, with free cash flow looking healthier and its debt falling substantially. It publishes its interim results on Wednesday (15 December).