FTSE 100 Live August 19: UK retail sales rise surprisingly as consumer confidence hits record high

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Travel agency Pollen to lay off staff after parent company collapses

Staff at London-based musical travel and events company Pollen have been told most are to be made redundant after its parent company collapsed.

Restructuring firm Kroll will liquidate Streetteam Software, which raised $150 million in fourth-round venture funding in April.

Pollen’s ability to work with music producers and tour operators to deliver bespoke experiences has been hit hard by the Covid lockdowns.

Streetteam had sought a buyer for the entire company with the help of Goldman Sachs, according to an internal email quoted on the Sifted site, which covers the European start-up scene.

The company was founded in 2014 by brothers Callum and Liam Negus-Fancey and employed 250 people in the UK.

“The legacy of the Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the group’s growth model, but the underlying concept, brands and technology the company has in place will present a compelling opportunity as that the travel industry will recover,” said Kroll’s director. director, Matt Ingram.

Backers included venture capitalists Northzone and hedge fund Lansdowne Partners. Pollen partners with music event promoters like Live Nation and Electric Zoo.

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Wholesale gas is approaching the peak seen just after the invasion of Ukraine

UK gas prices are rising rapidly towards the peak they reached in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, just a week before regulators set a new price cap for energy costs consumers.

At the start of trading in London, wholesale prices approached £4.60 per therm for gas delivered in September, taking the week’s rise to 16%. First month contracts hit £4.93 in early March.

An energy director, Ofgem Christine Farnish, resigned this week, saying her decision to change the price cap more frequently offered too many benefits to businesses. The cap on annual energy costs – at £1,971 via direct debit and £2,017 for prepaid customers – is set to increase to £1,500 in October.

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Just Eat Takeaway sells iFood stake in £1.5bn deal

Just Eat Takeaway has sold its stake in Brazilian food delivery company iFood in a €1.8bn (£1.5bn) deal.

The deal sees Dutch investment firm Prosus take full ownership of iFood. Prosus has offered Just Eat 1.5 billion euros in cash plus another 300 million euros subject to the recovery of the food delivery business.

As recently as August last year, CEO Jitse Groen said he had turned down a €2.3 billion offer for iFood, calling it “inadequate”.

Just Eat, which has seen its shares soar 63% year-to-date, is also coming under pressure from activist investor Cat Rock Capital to sell its US arm GrubHub. In April, Just Eat said it was considering a “partial or full sale” of the business.

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More than £10 billion erased Bitcoin’s value in crypto plunge

More than £10 billion was wiped from Bitcoin’s value in minutes this morning in the latest blow to the struggling cryptocurrency.

It fell 7% to a three-week low of just under $22,000 in the past 24 hours, after minutes released by the US Federal Reserve showed officials were unwilling to mitigate interest rate hikes until inflation can be brought under control.

Coinglass analysts said around $220 million in crypto positions were liquidated in an hour, with Bitcoin accounting for around half.

Overnight, crypto lender Hodlnaut filed for credit protection, suspended withdrawals and fired 80% of staff, saying it had “ongoing proceedings” with Singapore police.

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Downgrade hits Compass shares, FTSE 250 below 20,000

Shares of Compass and Bunzl fell today as recession fears led to the loss of ‘buy’ ratings from City Jefferies.

Jefferies sees a major downturn in business services and employment as inevitable, prompting it to cut its 2023/24 profit estimates for the sector as a whole by up to 10%.

Compass shares have been on a hot streak since early July but the catering provider to major sporting events including Wimbledon fell 36.5p to 1933p as Jefferies lowered its price target to 2000p.

Bunzl, which delivers essentials to retailers, workplaces and hospitality venues, also fell 76p to 3084p after Jefferies cut its target to 2900p.

The bank continues to have “buy” recommendations on FTSE 100-listed Rentokil Initial and former Electrocomponents business RS Group. He said: “With slowing earnings and a challenging macro backdrop, we favor quality and resilience, or where we believe the recession is priced in.”

The downgrades came as new signs that last month’s stock market rally is beginning to subside, with the FTSE 100 index down 22.74 points to 7519.11 following a lackluster week at Wall Street.

Recent gains have been fueled by optimism that the central bank’s hawkish policy will end, but comments from US policymakers this week suggest the fight against inflation is far from over.

Heightened economic uncertainty in the UK was reflected in the FTSE 250 index falling below the 20,000 threshold, down 165.21 points to 19,971.44. Major fallers included easyJet, which fell 4% or 15.3p to 393.4p.

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FTSE 100 down on fears of a rate hike

Last month’s stock market rally continues to subside, with the FTSE 100 index down 11.86 points to 7529.99 after yesterday’s lackluster session on Wall Street.

Recent gains have been fueled by optimism that the central bank’s hawkish policy will end, but comments from US policymakers this week suggest the fight against inflation is far from over.

UBS Global Wealth Management said: “We maintain our view that the Fed will hike rates another 1% by year-end, with risks of further hikes if inflation does not ease in line with our forecasts.

The weaker FTSE 100 index included falls of 2% for consumer-focused stocks Howden Joinery and B&M European Value Retail, while contract catering giant Compass fell 27.5p to 1942p after Jefferies cut its “buy” recommendation.

The FTSE 250 index fell 77.88 points to 20,058.59, with paving firm Marshalls the biggest drop after falling 25.2p to 396.8p.

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Consumer confidence at rock bottom

GfK’s much-watched consumer confidence survey fell three points to a score of minus 44, the lowest level since the survey began in 1974.

All sub-metrics fell from the previous month, reflecting deep concerns as the cost of living soars and concerns grow over the economic outlook next year.

GfK Director of Client Strategy Joe Staton said: “These results indicate a sense of capitulation, of financial events far beyond the control of ordinary people.

“With headline after headline revealing record inflation eroding household purchasing power, the strain on the personal finances of many in the UK is alarming.

“Just making ends meet has become a nightmare and the crisis of confidence will only get worse with the darkened days of autumn and the colder months of winter.

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Brent at $96 after OPEC remarks

Energy and mining stocks rallied yesterday after OPEC’s new secretary general said fears over China’s consumption slowdown had been “exaggerated” by markets.

Haitham al-Ghais told Reuters demand was robust in the physical market and he had a relatively optimistic view of the outlook for 2023.

Brent crude stood at just over $96 a barrel today, after falling in recent weeks amid global recession fears. BP and Glencore shares rose more than 2% in London on the comments, with the FTSE 100 index closing up 0.4%.

CMC Markets expects the Elite to add nine points to 7550 as trading resumes after US markets continued this week’s mixed performance at last night’s close.

US initial jobless claims yesterday fell to 250,000 from an expected 264,000 and the continuing claims figure is also lower than expected.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s remarks at the Jackson Hole Economic Symposium next Friday and subsequent releases on inflation and jobs will be key in determining whether policymakers raise interest rates by 0.75. % extra in September.

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