December 4, Tuesday: The FTSE 100 started the day lower, as did major European indices following a session in the red for Japan’s Nikkei 225(-2.39% ). Global markets pared back yesterday’s gains as scepticism grew with respect to the benefits of the easing of US-China tensions alluded to by the POTUS. Early morning news from the EU’s highest court provided a boost to sterling as it confirmed that the UK could still unilaterally reverse Brexit, hampering intraday inflows to UK equities.
Greencore(-3.29%) slipped intraday despite issuing a reasonable set of FY18 results. The FTSE 250 food manufacturer announced a pretax profit of £17.8m in the year ended to September 2018, a 13% increase on the prior year. Revenue came in 4.2% higher to £1.50bn, as the Group noted that it expected continued underlying revenue growth in its key food categories, after agreeing to an £817m sale of its U.S. operations to an affiliate of Hearthside Food Solutions LLC. Following a consultation with shareholders, the Group also announced the intention to return £509m to shareholders, in lieu of a special dividend. A final proposed dividend of 3.37p brings the total dividend to 5.57p per share for FY18.
UK Construction Services business Kier Group(-9.24%) dragged the FTSE 250 lower as broker downgrades prompted heavy selling after the Group announced a rights issue to shore up the balance sheet in the latter stages of last week.
UK construction PMI data edged up to four month highs as data illustrated that construction activity grew at the fastest pace in four months in November, lifted by housebuilding and commercial work. The HIS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to 53.4 from 53.2 in October, defying economists’ consensus estimates of a fall to 52.5.
At the close European equities were lower, with the FTSE 100 -0.56%, the CAC 40 -0.82% and the DAX 30 -1.14%.