Thursday, 15th March: Major US indices suffered their third consecutive day of falls yesterday as investors sought to bank profits amid the US’ further tariff uncertainty. Further concerns look set to be rising as the US’ trade war talk continues against China, with Trump’s new economic advisor Larry Kudlow quickly jumping in to the trade debate.
Unilever is to consolidate its headquarters but as a kick in the shin to the UK, the Marmite maker is to streamline its dual nationality in the Netherlands rather than London. Unilever have said the move to Rotterdam will ease mergers and acquisitions, giving them more strategic flexibility according to CFO Graeme Pitkethly. The decision to move headquarters looks to be another sign of a weakening business environment in the UK, 12 months before it leaves the European Union. However all is not lost as Unilever plans to base its beauty and personal-care division and the home-care business in London.
As with most Thursdays in the UK, equities were scattered by ex-dividends, although Hikma Pharmaceuticals only stood out further at the top of the 250. Rising just shy of 20% at the close, Hikma extended yesterday’s gains (+6.49%) as broker upgrades complimented the better than expected 2017 results. Despite falling to a pretax loss after an impairments charge on its generics business and further clinical trials being requested for its generic version of GlaxoSmithKline’s COPD Advair Diskus drug, both Citgroup and Jefferies upgraded price targets, in spite of a challenging outlook for the US Generics industry.
A subdued performance in most of Asia led to the Hang Seng and Nikkei ending slightly higher, feeding through in to Europe, although less so in London; the FTSE +0.1%, CAC 40 +0.65% and DAX +0.98%. Hammerson fell c.5% through a combination of ex-dividend and a broker downgrade following the group’s proposed takeover of Intu Properties.