FTSE 100 Live: Index closes down 0.8%, £1bn knocked off Entain value, Aviva in £460m AIG UK Life swoop

 (Evening Standard)
(Evening Standard)

Worries over China’s property sector resurfaced today as the FTSE 100 index opened the week on the back foot.

Blue-chip fallers included mining stocks and Entain after the Ladbrokes owner downgraded full-year revenues guidance.

Traders also focused on Aviva following its £460 million to deal to buy the UK life insurance business of AIG.

FTSE 100 Live

  • Entain slides after revenues warning

  • Aviva reveals £460m UK acquisition

  • Evergrande debt crisis hits shares

Sadiq Khan: Get the best from London - don’t work at home

Monday 25 September 2023 17:41

“The legacy of the pandemic casts a long shadow over us, but something which affords us hope is the remarkable resilience that London has demonstrated,” Mayor of London Sadiq Khan writes. “Buoyed by a bumper summer of world-class cultural events and an exponential rise in visitors to the capital, London’s economic recovery is defying all expectations.

“It has meant leisure travel has not just returned to but exceeded pre-pandemic levels. Tube passenger numbers on Saturdays have surpassed equivalent 2019 dates on several occasions this year while ridership figures across our public transport network have recovered strongly.

“However, the pandemic undoubtedly accelerated the move to more flexible and remote working. And with many Londoners enjoying the benefits of an improved work-life balance, and some businesses reporting productivity gains and efficiencies, it is a trend that some experts predict is unlikely to be reversed in the near future, if at all.”

Read more here

FTSE 100 closes at 7,623.99

Monday 25 September 2023 16:36 , Daniel O'Boyle

The FTSE 100 closed at 7,623.99, down 0.8% for the day after a minor rally just before the close.

The index opened with only modest losses, but sunk as low as 7582 by the mid-afternoon.

Gambling giant Entain was by far the biggest faller, with close to £1 billion taken off its market cap as it warned it would miss revenue expectations.

CRH was the biggest riser as its shares started trading in New York alongside their London listing.

Dylan Jones: Remote working is killing London. Get back to the office

Monday 25 September 2023 16:28 , Daniel O'Boyle

“Those with the best views see everything,” Evening Standard editor Dylan Jones writes. “Andrea Rossi, the chief executive of global investment manager M&G, has a corner office on the 11th floor of the firm’s Fenchurch Avenue HQ.

From here he can see the inactivity at street level at the end of the week.

‘I get a bit frustrated when I come in on a Friday, because the whole City, it’s empty,’ he says, disappointedly.

“He certainly isn’t the only one in London to feel this way. Speak to any shopkeeper, retailer, or news-seller, or anyone in the hospitality industry, and they will tell you the same.

“London feels like it is on its way back: commuter patterns are up, West End footfall is up, and tourists are beginning to feel as ubiquitous as they were pre-Covid.

“But there is still a bewildering lack of urgency among employers regarding full time in-office working.”

Read more here

‘Push on with HS2 Euston hub at pace’, ministers are told

Monday 25 September 2023 15:56 , Daniel O'Boyle

The capital’s commercial property sector today urged the Government to push on with its plans for a HS2 hub at Euston “at pace”, amid concerns that the huge railway project may never reach central London.

In an open letter to Transport Secretary Mark Harper, the London Property Alliance (LPA), which represents more than 400 companies involved in central London real estate including developers, landlords and planning consultants, said the high speed rail line’s terminus in zone one would bring massive social and economic regeneration.

Read more here

FTSE sinks further in afternoon trade

Monday 25 September 2023 15:17 , Simon Hunt

An hour before the end of the day’s trading session, the FTSE has fallen further, down around 1.1% on the close of Friday’s session.

Here’s a look through your key markets data.

CRH shares rise on first day of trading on Wall Street

Monday 25 September 2023 15:02 , Daniel O'Boyle

Shares in Irish building materials firm CRH have risen since starting trading on Wall Street, after the firm became one of the highest-profile businesses to switch its primary listing away from London.

Shares are up 1.3% to $55.29 since opening on the New York Stock Exchange.

Elsewhere in New York, shares in chip maker Arm picked back up after falling below their $51 IPO price soon after markets opened. They are currently trading at $51.50, up 0.3% for the day.

Tougher diversity standards proposed for finance sector in misconduct crackdown

Monday 25 September 2023 14:07 , Daniel O'Boyle

The UK’s financial sector could face tougher standards for diversity and inclusion in a bid to clamp down on workplace bullying and sexual harassment, under new proposals by financial regulators.

Larger companies will come under more scrutiny after a string of sexual assault allegations have emerged at influential firms in the City.

Proposed new measures aim to make it easier for staff members to speak out or challenge behaviour they see at their firm.

Read more here

Lego scraps plan to make bricks out of recycled drinks bottles

Monday 25 September 2023 13:10 , Daniel O'Boyle

Lego has ditched plans to make bricks out of recycled drinks bottles after finding the new material failed to cut carbon emissions.

The Danish toy giant announced in 2021 it was researching whether PET plastic, or polyethylene terephthalate – which does not degrade in quality when recycled – could be used to make its building bricks.

It was part of a plan to shift to oil-free bricks, with Lego hoping recycled PET plastic could replace crude oil-based acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), which is currently used in pieces.

Read more here

What happened to the big return? Millions are still working from home

Monday 25 September 2023 11:55 , Daniel O'Boyle

There were growing concerns on Monday that the “big return” to the central London workplace has stalled.

Millions of rail journeys a month that were made in and out of the capital before the pandemic are no longer occurring on weekdays, despite the post-Covid economic recovery, according to the latest travel data.

London’s three main commuter railways — South Western, Southeastern and GoVia Thameslink, which runs Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern — carry about 22 million fewer passengers a month than four years ago.

Read more here

Secret WWII London tunnels to be opened to public under new £220 million plans

Monday 25 September 2023 11:02 , Simon Hunt

Anetwork of secret tunnels hidden under central London for decades will soon be opened up to the public under an ambitious £220 million plan for a huge new tourist attraction “as iconic as the London Eye” unveiled today.

The Kingsway Exchange tunnels, an expanse of 8,000 sq m of passageways several hundred feet below High Holborn, were shrouded in mystery for most of the 20th century with details covered by the government’s Official Secrets Act, because of their wartime role as a base for MI6 officials.

The site is now set to be transformed into a museum exploring their history after it was bought by a consortium called London Tunnels Ltd.

Read more here

China worries weigh on FTSE 100, upgrade boosts AstraZeneca

Monday 25 September 2023 10:19 , Graeme Evans

A fresh crisis in China’s property sector today triggered the selling of London’s big mining stocks amid fears over weaker demand.

The pressure came after real estate giant Evergrande revealed it had hit problems with the debt restructuring plan.

Worries over the potential impact on China’s economic recovery meant the Hang Seng index finished 1.8% lower, with Asia-focused stocks down in London.

Heavy fallers included mining giant Rio Tinto, which retreated 3% or 150p to 5033p, and rival Anglo American after it lost 65p at 2183p.

Hong Kong-based insurer Prudential added to the pressure by falling 16.8p to 884.4p as London’s top flight weakened 63.39 points to 7,620.52.

On the risers board, AstraZeneca shares jumped 210p to 11,256p as US bank Jefferies gave the drugs giant a “buy” rating and new price target of 13,000p.

It was a quiet return to the FTSE 100 for Howden Joinery, having taken the place of building supplies firm CRH.

The kitchens specialist, which last traded in the top flight a year ago, drifted 0.2p to 743.4p. CRH rose 135p to 4476p after switching its primary listing from London to New York, a move ending a 12 year run in the FTSE 100.

The second-tier FTSE 250 index fell 186.06 points to 18,420.78, with the China worries contributing to Aston Martin Lagonda falling 9p to 269.6p.

Media content technology business Videndum jumped 11% or 55.2p to 573.24p, boosted by hopes of an end to strike action by the Writers’ Guild of America.

British Business Bank makes £147m loss amid falling valuations

Monday 25 September 2023 09:50 , Daniel O'Boyle

The Government-owned British Business Bank has said UK taxpayers will feel the long-term benefits of plugging billions of pounds into small firms after revealing it swung to a loss of more than £147 million last year.

The UK’s economic development bank said it was impacted by wider economic difficulties which led to a drop in the valuation of firms it invests in.

It reported a pre-tax loss for the year to the end of March of £147.3 million, compared to a profit of £604.8 million the previous year.

Read more here

Invinity shares soar on deal with US government

Monday 25 September 2023 09:01 , Simon Hunt

Shares in giant battery maker Invinity rose as much as 18% as markets opened this morning after the firm’s sales soared and it unveiled a new partnership with the US government.

The Scotland-based business has been contracted to deliver 84 megawatt hours of energy storage across six sites in the US to create dependable sources of energy during extreme weather events and natural disaster.

It reported a tenfold jump in revenues to £14.8 million for the first six months of the year.

Jennifer M. Granholm, U.S. Secretary of Energy, said: "As we build our clean energy future, reliable energy storage systems will play a key role in protecting communities.”

China worries hit mining stocks, Entain down 4%

Monday 25 September 2023 08:24 , Graeme Evans

A poor session in Asia after the Hang Seng index declined 1.6% has set a downbeat tone in London, with the FTSE 100 index 28.40 points lower at 7,655.51.

Big fallers include Entain, which is 4% or 45p lower at 1011p after the Ladbrokes and Coral gambling group warned it will miss its full-year revenues targets.

Paddy Power rival Flutter Entertainment dipped 310p to 13,710p and William Hill business 888 Holdings weakened 3.9p to 114.4p in the FTSE 250 index.

Worries over the China outlook triggered by weekend developments in the Evergrande debt crisis put pressure on mining stocks as Rio Tinto lost 151p to 5032p and Glencore retreated 5.65p to 449.4p.

Aviva dropped 2.2p to 396p after it announced it is buying the UK life insurance business of AIG for £460 million.

The FTSE 250 index fell 73.61 points to 18,533.23, with Trainline shares among the biggest fallers after a decline of 4.2p to 267.2p.

FTSE lower at market open

Monday 25 September 2023 08:22 , Simon Hunt

The FTSE 100 is down 0.4% in the opening minutes of trade in London.

Here’s a look at your key markets data:

Aviva to buy AIG’s UK life insurance business for £460 million

Monday 25 September 2023 07:57 , Michael Hunter

Aviva is buying the UK life insurance business of AIG for £460 million, as the FTSE 100 giant beefs up its prescene in its home market.

The deal will bring 1.3 million individual policyholders from AIG into Aviva and 1.4 million who are covered by group policies.

Aviva expects to cut costs after the deal completes, saying the deal will bring  “significant capital and expense synergies”.

Amanda Blanc, Aviva CEO, said: “This acquisition brings significant strategic and financial benefits. It strengthens our prospects in the highly attractive UK protection market and continues our progress in repositioning the group towards capital-light growth. We look forward to welcoming our new customers and colleagues to Aviva.”

Entain to cut costs with revenue set to miss target

Monday 25 September 2023 07:49 , Daniel O'Boyle

Ladbrokes owner Entain said it will miss its full-year revenue guidance as the implementation of new UK safer gambling rules has had a bigger impact than expected.

The betting giant said revenue since the end of the summer has been “softer than expected”, due to a mix of punter-friendly sporting results, and a bigger-than-expected impact from safer gambling measures and regulatory challenges, especially in the UK. Slow growth in Australia and Italy also hit revenue.

 (Lee Smith/Reuters)
(Lee Smith/Reuters)

The group downgraded its revenue target but left profit unchanged, as it said “robust operational controls” would protect profits.

Those controls include a “comprehensive market review”, which could see the business - which also owns Coral and Bwin - quit countries where it doesn’t see big growth opportunities. It also hinted at job cuts, saying the group’s structures and operations would be simplified to cut costs.

CEO Jette Nygaard-Andersen said: “We have made significant changes to the group over the last three years.

“Our focus now is on accelerating the actions we are taking to drive sustainable organic growth, expand our margins, capitalise on the US opportunity and deliver long-term returns for our shareholders.”

Evergrande fears hit Asia shares, FTSE 100 seen lower

Monday 25 September 2023 07:18 , Graeme Evans

Fresh fears over China’s property sector today hit Asia markets and contributed to expectations of a weaker session for the FTSE 100 index.

The pressure came after Evergrande said it would not be able to carry out the debt restructuring plan it needs to ensure its survival. It has been unable to issue new debt due to an investigation at its subsidiary, Hengda Real Estate Group.

Evergrande’s shares slumped by more than 25% at one point, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index down by 1.5% in afternoon trading.

According to IG Index, futures trading points to the FTSE 100 index opening 15 points lower at about 7668. On Friday, London’s top flight finished unchanged and Wall Street’’s leading benchmarks ended slightly lower.

The S&P 500 index fell 3% across the week after the Federal Reserve signalled that US interest rates are likely to stay high throughout next year.

Recap: Friday’s top stories

Sunday 24 September 2023 22:31 , Simon Hunt

Good morning. Here’s a summary of our top stories from Friday: