Sky & BT Score Points With Investors as US Inflation Rattles Markets

Wednesday, February 14: UK FTSE indices opened higher in unison today, but sold off aggressively shortly after the latest figures for US inflation were released. Core CPI excl. volatile food and energy components came in at 0.3%, ahead of economists’ expectations for a more modest 0.2% gain as overall prices also moved up by a greater degree than expected, coming in at 0.5% vs. a 0.4%  consensus projection. Markets have become increasingly worried that US monetary policy tightening would be faster than expected, and this data prompted American indices to see-saw on the news, an effect which also reverberated in Europe. Panic abated when higher gasoline prices and clothes were discovered to be key culprits in driving inflation higher, elements which are more transitory in nature. As the afternoon progressed, equity markets in Europe and the US(S&P: +0.47%) flipped back into the green, as the FTSE 100 closed +0.64%.

Galliford Try proved to be the largest faller on the FTSE 350, following the issuance of its half-year report. The shares dropped 18.12%, due to the impact of the Carillion bankruptcy prompting the firm to seek additional capital and slash its dividend. The business took a £25m exceptional charge due to Carillion’s collapse, with £150m in equity to be raised due to “additional financial obligations” arising from the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route contract underwritten by HSBC and Peel Hunt.

In the Media sector, the renewal of the Premier League television rights saw both Sky(+3.33%) and BT(+0.80%) trade higher, as Sky maintained its exclusive live rights to show 128 games per season between 2019 and 2022, for £1.2bn, a 14% reduction on the price it paid for the last deal. BT averted disaster by securing a package of 32 games over three seasons for £885m, which was less than it paid for 42 games at the last renewal, but more on a cost per game basis. One of the fears was that one of US tech giants would come into bidding and swot both British companies aside, but shareholders of both will feel relief that business will continue as usual. Two further packages of 20 games remain, though it looks unlikely that the total cost will usurp that seen at the last auction.

Across Europe, indices were up at the close with the FTSE 100 +0.64%, the DAX 30 +1.17% and the CAC 40 +1.10%.

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