Court Ruling Removes US Gambling Hurdle

Monday, 14 May: Following positive sentiment in the US on Friday, Asia markets overnight continued with in a similar fashion in the new week as the Hang Seng in Hong Kong rose 1.35% as easing trade tensions between the US and China eased investor woes. Maybe still recovering from Eurovision parties over the weekend, European indices started the day in a rather slow fashion with the FTSE 100 dragged lower by a slightly stronger pound. The pound has risen to a certain degree against the US dollar ($1.36), its second day of moderate gains.

Further M&A activity grabbed headlines as global office space provider IWG surged >20% following Friday evening’s confirmation it is in talks regarding 3 possible takeover bids. The FTSE 250 company took poll position at the close, +22.82%. Over the course of the afternoon gambling companies all surged after the US Supreme Court issued a ruling that opens the door for permitted gambling in the US, breaking up Nevada’s monopoly of legalised single-game betting.  The ruling means gambling will soon begin in New Jersey while the states of Mississippi, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware and West Virginia look to follow suit. William Hill, Paddy Power Betfair and 888 Holdings all ended the day with double digit returns. 888 Holdings ended +15.38% as best performer in the sector to give it runner up position on the FTSE 250 behind IWG, while Paddy Power Betfair stole the show on the blue-chip index; +12.24%. The Travel & Leisure sector generated positive returns across the FTSE 350, up 1.64% at the end of play.

Hawkish comments from US central bank official Loretta Mester in France sent US Treasury yields back towards 3% (2.99%), suggesting that more interest rate rises than expected may be needed to reach the “neutral rate” (where interest rates are at a level which neither helps nor hinders growth). Expectations are for a further 3 rate rises this year, the first of which is expected in June (currently 95% hike probability).

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