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Weekly review

By Duncan Ferris

Date: Thursday 18 Apr 2019

(Sharecast News) - The FTSE 100 ended the week up 25.82 points at 7459.88.
Equity view

New Jersey-based drug developer Catalent Inc has agreed to buy privately-held gene therapy company Paragon Bioservices for $1.2bn in cash.

French advertising giant Publicis has agreed to buy US-based marketing and data group Epsilon from Alliance Systems Corp for $4.4bn in cash.

IWG continued its shift towards an asset-light model on Monday with a £320m deal to sell 100% of its Japanese serviced office space to Tokyo-listed TKP Corporation, with which it has agreed a franchise agreement.

Rio Tinto said it would invest an extra $302m (£231m) to develop its US Resolution copper project as it seeks to capitalise on the growing green energy market.

JD Sport Fashion remained a beacon of growth in the troubled retail sector, as the sports chain reported double-digit sales and profit growth for the 52 weeks to 2 February.

Housebuilding, regeneration and construction group Galliford Try announced on Tuesday that it is undertaking a strategic review of its construction business.

The impact of March's tropical cyclone in Western Australia forced miner Rio Tinto to cut its guidance for annual ore shipments.

Provident Financial's chairman on Tuesday urged shareholders not to accept a hostile takeover bid from fellow sub-prime lender Non-Standard Financial.

The European Commission published a list on Wednesday of $20bn worth of US imports that could be hit with tariffs in response to US subsidies to aircraft manufacturer Boeing.

BHP cut iron ore output forecasts on Wednesday, reflecting the impact of tropical cyclone Veronica in Western Australia, which also hit production at sector peer Rio Tinto.

Distribution and outsourcing group Bunzl said that underlying revenue growth slowed in the first quarter, mostly due to its North America operations, as it announced the recent acquisition of Netherlands-based distributor Coolpack.

Utility supplier Telecom Plus warned that full year profit would be lower-than-expected as the UK government's price cap hit results in the final quarter.

Real estate investment trust Intu Properties has formed a joint-venture with Cale Street Investments for the development of its Derby shopping centre.

Unilever posted stronger than expected growth for the first quarter of the year, driven by emerging markets and an improved balance between volume and price improvements.

Moneysupermarket posted a 19% jump in first-quarter revenue thanks to a solid performance from its home services business.

Funding Circle's shares climbed after it reported a record level of loans under management during the first quarter, though some analysts remain concerned about the company's business model.

Economic news

Dividend income paid to UK shareholders jumped to a record high in the first quarter of 2019, with shares yielding an average of 4.6%.

Shopper numbers last month increased strongly compared to last year, though the difference was mostly put down to the vastly different weather.

Climate change protests by Extinction Rebellion demonstrators in central London on Tuesday resulted in over 100 arrests, as demonstrators disrupted public transport and chained themselves to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's house.

Levels of employment in Britain increased 179,000 to a record high in the three months to February, official data confirmed on Tuesday, but economists see ongoing headwinds for households and businesses.

Mark Carney told the financial sector not to ignore climate change, warning of the losses that it might trigger, including from lenders' stakes in polluting firms.

UK inflation unexpectedly held steady in March, according to data released on Wednesday by the Office for National Statistics, easing pressure on the Bank of England to hike interest rates.

The 'big four' auditing firms should be shaken up but not necessarily broken up to improve competition, with new regulatory powers introduced to improve accountability, UK competition authorities have recommended.

International events

The US on Monday watered down demands that China must cut industrial subsidies as a condition to reach a final trade deal after Beijing refused to do so.

Article 13 and the latest set of EU copyright rules were finally passed on Monday in the European Parliament to become law, potentially affecting tech companies such as Facebook and Google.

Germany's foreign minister has warned that if the UK does not make progress on agreeing a Brexit deal it will not be given a further extension to the deadline beyond 31 October.

The Pinault and Vuitton families pledged €300m to help in the reconstruction of Notre Dame cathedral on Monday, just a few hours after fire engulfed the Parisian cathedral in flames.

Chinese officials appear to be preparing a stimulus package as they aim to improve sales of items such as cars and electronics after the nation's economy showed signs of reinvigoration on Wednesday.

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, according to data from the Labor Department.

Factory activity in the US mid-Atlantic region slowed in April, according to the results of one of the most closely-followed surveys covering the sector.


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