Monday, 25 January: The FTSE indices were largely mixed in mid-morning trade, a trend that continued through the day, as the largest index closed down 0.39%. The primary index closed down aided and abetted by oil price volatility, one of the most recent persistent detractors from global equity markets in recent times.
A continuing deterioration in conditions for oil producers spells bad news for those getting oil out of the ground, but should prove to be a boon for a myriad of companies for which oil forms a notable chunk of the cost base. These benefits will accrue at different rates for different companies depending on the hedging strategies being utilised. Some companies were locked into higher prices for a considerable period of time after the initial weakness in the commodity in Summer 2014.
Kingfisher may need to conduct some additional DIY as future business plans fell foul of investors. The owner of B&Q and Screwfix traded 6% lower at the time of writing, as investors took issue with a five-year plan to deliver a £500m annual profit uplift by the end of the fifth year, and a total cash sum returned to shareholders of £600m over the next three years. Doubts flooded investors minds as to the viability of the plan, which carries significant execution risk, and a front-loading of sizeable costs to the tune of c.£800m running into the 2018 financial year.
Investors hung up on BT after its recent successful merger deal with EE, as ongoing issues relating to its natural monopoly Openreach persisted. The potential separation from BT has been tabled by Ofcom, as the regulator continues its audit of the digital communications sphere. BT was also the target of 100 activist Members of Parliament, as they demanded radical action on BT Openreach, backing the regulator’s proposals.
A busy, high profile raft of news objects are due in the coming week, particularly on distant shores. We lead the week with the FOMC meeting commencing tomorrow, and contributions from the Bank of Japan later on. These events will be supplemented by earnings from some of the largest companies in the S&P 500: Apple , Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook – these announcements will likely set the tone for the year in US equity markets, particularly the technology sector.
At the close European indices were down with the FTSE 100 -0.39%, the CAC 40 -0.58%, and the DAX 30 -0.29%.