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Weekly review

By Duncan Ferris

Date: Friday 22 Feb 2019

(Sharecast News) - The FTSE 100 ended the week down 57.58 points at 7178.60.
Equity view

JD Sports has bought an 8.3% stake in fellow sports shop chain Footasylum and said it was looking to buy more.

Spirax-Sarco Engineering said it was in talks to buy Thermocoax Developpement from Chequers Capital, TCR Capital and other minority shareholders for a €158m (£139m) on a cash-free and debt-free basis.

Honda is set to announce the closure of its car plant in Swindon in 2022 which could potentially leave 3,500 workers unemployed.

Pearson on Monday said it had sold its its US K12 courseware business to Nexus Capital Management for $250m (£193.6m).

Coca‑Cola HBC said it had bought Serbian confectionery business Bambi for €260m (£227m)

The US Supreme Court on Tuesday denied Indivior's request for it to put on pause a lower court's decision that opens the door for the launches of potential copycat versions of its biggest-selling drug.

Greggs made an "exceptionally strong" start to 2019, it announced on Tuesday, reporting that in the seven weeks to 16 February, total sales grew by 14.1%, up from 6.2% growth at the same time last year.

Asian-focused HSBC posted lower than expected revenues and profits for the final three months of 2018 as volatility in financial markets took its toll, meaning that top-line growth failed to keep up with expenses.

Kroger and Ocado have chosen Central Florida and the Mid-Atlantic US as the two areas that will host their next two joint customer fulfillment centres.

The UK competition watchdog has "extensive" concerns over the proposed £13bn merger between Sainsbury's and Asda, warning of the potential for pushing up prices and reducing ranges in hundreds of local areas.

Vodafone claimed to have become the world's first operator to connect 5G smartphones to its live 5G network on Wednesday, as it prepared to launch 5G in a number of European cities during the second half of 2019.

Low-cost carrier Ryanair revealed that it will open a new airport in Toulouse in October.

Lloyds Banking Group lifted its dividend 5% and proposed a £1.75bn share buyback after a year of "strong strategic and financial delivery".

Real estate agent Purplebricks shares slumped on Thursday as the company slashed its sales forecast and its top executives in the UK and the US quit.

Defence contractor BAE Systems said full year operating profit rose 14.3% per cent to £1.6bn as it warned that Germany's move to halt arms exports to Saudi Arabia could hit its ability to supply the controversial country in the aftermath of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Kashoggi.

Barclays beat analysts' profit estimates despite the hit to the lender's operations from Brexit-related uncertainty and volatility in markets.

Hays' shares fell on Thursday even as the company's interim profits increased, amid investor fears of a slowdown in the recruitment firm's German business due to the country's economic slowdown.

The Serious Fraud Office has closed its investigations into alleged bribery at GlaxoSmithKline and Rolls-Royce, it said on Friday.

Pinterest filed confidentially for a US initial public offering and is expected to seek a valuation of $12bn, according to reports.

Sub-prime lender Provident Financial has received a £1.3bn takeover offer from smaller rival Non-Standard Finance.

Dairy Crest directors have recommended a cash takeover bid from Canada's Saputo that values the Cathedral City cheese maker at £975m.

Economic news

Seven Labour MPs resigned from the party on Monday in protest over its Brexit policy and the failure to deal with antisemitism among members.

A parliamentary committee has published its final report following an investigation into 'fake news', accusing Facebook of knowingly breaking privacy and competition laws and calling for stricter regulations to be imposed urgently.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May was set to hold more Brexit talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday, as UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said an agreement on the Irish backstop would help Britain meet its March 29 departure date.

The days of carrying a stack of orange printed tickets for a single rail journey could soon be over, as the industry announced a big overhaul of its ticketing strategy.

UK wage growth remained at its post-crisis high at the end of last year, as employment rose but productivity softened, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The UK government announced measures to reduce risks taken by private firms that provide public services, as it seeks to assist companies that have become increasingly wary of taking on new government business in the wake of Carillion's collapse last year.

The UK government's austerity policies have left the country's economy £100bn smaller since 2010, a thinktank said on Thursday.

Britain's public accounts enjoyed a record surplus at the start of 2019, which economists said would likely allow the Chancellor to provide another modest fiscal boost to the economy.

UK and Irish retailers on Thursday warned that food products such as beef or cheddar cheese could be subject to 40% tariffs or more if the UK were to apply World Trade Organization rates on trade after a no-deal Brexit.

International events

Centre-right parties are expected to again come out in front from the European Union parliamentary elections due to be held between 23-26 May, but the Continent's far-right parties will make fresh inroads, according to the results of a survey.

President Trump will decide within weeks whether to impose tariffs on European cars, a decision that would surely harm an already slowing Eurozone economy.

Donald Trump said trade talks with China had been "very productive" over the weekend as his team returned from Beijing and prepared for another round of negotiations.

Bernie Sanders announced on Tuesday that he will run again for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 US Presidential elections.

Chinese and US officials are set to reconvene in Washington on Tuesday to kick off a new round of talks on trade that follow positive negotiations last week in Beijing.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro challenged opposition leader Juan Guaido to general elections on Tuesday.

German business confidence deteriorated more than expected in February, to its lowest level in four years, according to a widely-followed survey released on Friday.

Another top policymaker at the European Central Bank echoed his counterparts across the Atlantic on Friday, calling for more time, "until around summer", in order to better assess the magnitude of the risks - or not - to economic growth.

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