LONDON MARKET OPEN: Euromoney and AB Foods give shares a lift

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Share prices unexpectedly opened higher in London on Monday, with M&A activity and company trading updates alleviating continued investor concern about rising interest rates and slowing economic growth globally.

The FTSE 100 index was down 18.45 points, or 0.2%, at 7,034.70. The mid-cap FTSE 250 index was up 23.63 points, or 0.1%, at 18,949.24. The AIM All-Share index was down 3.21 points, or 0.1%, at 897.76.

The Cboe UK 100 index was up 0.5% at 701.60. The Cboe 250 was up 0.1% at 16,667.33, and the Cboe Small Companies down 0.5% at 13,719.71.

In mainland Europe, the CAC 40 stock index in Paris was down 0.1%, while the DAX 40 in Frankfurt was up 0.2%.

In the FTSE 100, Associated British Foods was up 1.0% after the Primark fashion chain owner said its third-quarter trading performance was in line with expectations, and it kept its outlook unchanged.

For the 36 weeks to May 28, revenue for the quarter increased by 32%. Sales in its Food businesses increased 10%, which it said reflected price actions to recover input cost inflation and volume increases in the Ingredients arm. AB Sugar revenue for the quarter was 7% ahead of last year.

At its Primark discount fashion chain, all stores traded during the period, in contrast to last year when most stores were closed until the middle of April, it explained. AB Foods said sales at Primark in the quarter were 81% ahead of last year and year to date were 69% ahead of the comparable period a year before.

Primark remains on track to deliver a full-year adjusted operating profit margin of around 10%, AB Foods added.

‘We see this as a good update, upon which we are not changing our FY22 financial forecasts,’ said Clive Black, head of research at Shore Capital, ‘and we would not expect much wider market movement around estimates.’

In the FTSE 250, Euromoney Institutional Investor was the standout performer, up 25% at 1,362.00 pence.

The business information publisher and events organiser confirmed it received an approach from a consortium of Astorg Asset Management and Epiris regarding a possible cash offer for Euromoney of 1,461 pence per Euromoney share, valuing the company at £1.6 billion.

Euromoney said the proposal follows earlier approaches from the consortium to the board regarding a possible all cash offer for Euromoney at 1,175p, 1,250p, 1,310p and 1,350p per Euromoney share.

The latest offer represents a 34% premium to Friday's closing share price of 1,094.00p.

At the other end of the midcaps, Rank Group was the worst performer, down 17%, after the gambling firm issued a profit warning.

Rank said that, having suffered a ‘softer’ performance in its UK venues throughout its financial third quarter, it entered its current fourth quarter with visit numbers down across Grosvenor casinos.

Rank said it has seen some improvement in Grosvenor's performance post April, but acknowledged trading has been ‘considerably weaker than expected’. Rank attributed this to the slower-than-expected return of higher spending overseas customers to London casinos, continued softness in visitor numbers across the UK, and a lower-than-average casino win margin in the quarter to date.

As a result, Rank expects like-for-like underlying operating profit to be £40 million for the year ending June 30, lower than the previously guided range of £47 million to £55 million. It will release its annual results for the year ending June 30 on August 18.

easyJet was down 3.0%. The budget airline warned about rising costs, caused by the recent disruption of flights and the need to lease additional aircraft, as well as higher crew costs and airport charges.

easyJet said it expects the extra costs to be a one-off occurrence this summer, with more system resilience built in time for the 2023 peak season. It expects to fly 87% of pre-pandemic capacity in its current quarter and 90% in its financial fourth quarter, which ends on September 30.

Elsewhere, Deliveroo was down 7.5% after JPMorgan cut the food delivery firm to 'underweight' from 'neutral'.

Deliveroo has hired Scilla Grimble as its new chief financial officer. Grimble, who is currently CFO at price comparison site MoneySupermarket.com, is expected to start no later than June 2023.

Deliveroo said Adam Miller will be stepping down as CFO on September 17, with David Hancock, currently vice president of Investor Relations, to serve as interim CFO. It gave no reason for Miller's departure.

Moneysupermarket said a search for a new CFO is underway. Its shares were trading flat.

In Asia on Monday, markets were mixed to lower. The Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo closed down 0.7%. In China, the Shanghai Composite ended flat, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was up 0.2%. The S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney finished down 0.6%.

The dollar was down across the board.

The pound was quoted at $1.2232 early Monday in London, up from $1.2211 at the London equities close Friday. The euro was priced at $1.0520, up from $1.0465. Against the yen, the dollar was trading at JP¥134.75, lower against JP¥135.17.

‘Markets are still digesting the higher re-pricing of Fed rate expectations, and global risk assets may struggle to show any sustainable rebound for now,’ said ING. ‘All this should keep the dollar mostly in demand in a week when markets will focus on Powell's testimony.’

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell appears before US lawmakers on Capital Hill on Wednesday and Thursday.

Brent oil was quoted at $113.55 a barrel on Monday morning, down from $114.22 late Friday. Gold stood at $1,841.82 an ounce, unmoved against $1,841.66.

The economic events calendar on Monday has eurozone construction output figures at 1000 BST. Financial markets in the US will be closed on Monday in observance of the maiden Juneteenth public holiday.

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