“The FTSE100 opened in negative territory on a quiet corporate news day and in the aftermath of mostly lower performances by stocks on Wall Street and in Asia. Traders will be looking to key US employment data this afternoon,” says AJ Bell Investment Director Russ Mould.
“Brexit and higher stamp duty have hit housebuilder Berkeley’s reservations but its longer-term confidence in the market remains undimmed with a new target to deliver at least £3bn of pre-tax profits over the next five years. Excluding the hiatus around Brexit, reservations for the six months to the end of October were in line with the beginning of the calendar year and are approximately 20% down on the same period last year as a result of the market adjusting to increased stamp duty and the economic uncertainty arising from the EU referendum result. Berkeley topped the FTSE250 board in early trading with its shares up by over 4.9%.
“Commercial flooring group James Halstead’s shares plunged after it warned it would be difficult to make progress against last year’s first half comparatives and that it faced pricing pressure on one of its key raw materials. The group is seeing an overall benefit from the fall in the value of sterling but supplies of plasticiser, one of its key raw materials, have been hit following an explosion at one of BASF's European plants. BASF is not James Halstead’s main supplier and the group has accessed volumes elsewhere in the market. But the suspension of operations at the BASF plant has raised industry prices and caused supply chain delays and shortages which may continue into the second half of the financial year. James Halstead’s shares were down by over 13%.
“Security group G4S has agreed the sale of its Israel arm to FIMI Opportunity Funds for £88m. The sale is part of G4S’s active portfolio management programme announced in 2013 to improve its strategic focus and capital discipline. But G4S will retain a presence in Israel through ownership and continued investment in the flagship national police training centre Policity in partnership with FIMI and Shikun & Binui, a major Israeli infrastructure and real estate group.”
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