Thursday, 23 May: The same themes ran through Thursday that got the ball rolling on Monday, and to be quite frank they’ve been running themes for too long now. Trade fears caused the majority of global bourses to lose ground today with risk firmly off the table. Typical safe havens were in favour and the FTSE eventually closed 1.41% lower. Our index has been somewhat protected from the weaker pound all week but seemingly this caveat had run its race today and increased focus on trade tensions ahead of what seems to be a disastrous result for the conservatives in the MEP elections was all too much for London.
Theresa May has survived more scares than Wayne Rooney’s PR manager but today could be her final day. She’s been resilient and at times reminiscent of Jordan Belfort’s speech in the Wolf of Wall Street by refusing to leave, but again, it seems that she’s got no fans left as a famous, angry, small, drunk football supporter once said. At least she’s left us with countless material from those dances and unfortunately many quotes of her saying she’d do exactly what she’s failed to do, but she’s had a good innings. What does this have in relevance to markets? Well of course once she’s gone we have new agendas from her successor and the likelihood of a harder Brexit becomes higher, although any Brexit is harder than not leaving.
In companies news today the FTSE 250 was home of most the action. Mitchells & Butlers were the biggest risers through the session and finished 8.9% higher after first half profit and revenue increased. The board has also expressed optimism going into the second half, a rare tone from management these days. Serco Group were also up there, rising almost 7.5% respectively after they announced the acquisition of Alion’s naval-systems business for $225mn. The deal is partly funded by a share placing, but it’s in an area familiar to Serco and should complement the business well. QinetiQ closely followed Serco to rise 5.3% after signs of organic growth pleased investors. Pre-tax profit fell for fiscal 2019 by 15% and they’re confident of delivering organic revenue and profit growth in the coming year.
Mothercare have delayed publishing their accounts due to financial complexities. The one-day extension seems to give the impression that it’s complex but not beyond figuring out. Shame the climax won’t be worth the wait for most investors.
TalkTalk shares made ground today after their 2019 pre-tax loss narrowed as a result of lower costs. They have also announced that the full year dividend has been slashed.