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Weekly review

By Alexander Bueso

Date: Friday 16 Aug 2019

(Sharecast News) - The FTSE 100 finished the session 109.57 points lower to 7,117.15.
Equity view

The High Court has blocked the proposed transfer of £12bn of annuities from Prudential to Rothesay Life.

Ultra Electronics and its partner Sparton DeLeon Springs announced the award of an \'IDIQ\' contract valued at a not-to-exceed amount of $1.04bn (£0.86bn) to their ERAPSCO joint venture on Friday, for the manufacture of sonobuoys for the United States Navy.

Poundland\'s owner Pepkor Europe is reported to be preparing a €4bn (£3.7bn) sale or flotation in September after untangling itself from its troubled parent company.

Burford Capital\'s war of words with Muddy Waters Research continued as the company\'s short-seller critic dismissed governance changes as farcical and alleged misleading responses by Burford to investors\' questions.

Analysts at Jefferies gave the \'thumbs up\' to Burford Capital\'s response to shareholder concerns about governance, reiterating their \'buy\' recommendation and 2,400p target price for the shares.

Quantum dots manufacturer Nanoco Group saw revenues more than double in its last trading year thanks to the early delivery of some income under a major services contract.

Shares of online trading platform Plus500 surged on Thursday after the company\'s chief executive officer and other directors picked up some stock.

Continued copper sales growth partially offset lower commodity prices for Kaz Minerals in the first half of 2019 as revenues and core earnings both fell.

Standard Chartered will ramp-up hiring at its private banking arm as part of a push to grow the unit by half over the next five years.

Shares of Mike Ashley\'s Sports Direct tumbled on Wednesday as it announced that Grant Thornton has quit as its auditor after more than 10 years, giving the company less than a month to find a new one.

Insurer Prudential said on Wednesday that it expects to complete its de-merger by year-end as it reported a jump in first-half operating profit.

Bank of Georgia on Wednesday posted a rise in first half profits on the back of strong retail lending, although net interest income fell as it moved towards providing higher quality loans.

AstraZeneca announced positive results from the phase 3 \'PAOLA-1\' trial in women with advanced ovarian cancer on Wednesday, alongside its partner MSD.

Construction group Balfour Beatty posted a rise in first-half pre-tax profit on Wednesday as its Build To Last turnaround programme continues to bear fruit.

Hochschild Mining on Wednesday posted lower interim pre-tax profit, due to a fall in the average silver price which led to lower production.

Romans in the suburbs around the city\'s Fiumicino airport were forced to dash for cover at the weekend following a malfunction in one of the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines powering a Norwegian Air\'s Boeing 787 Dreamliner that had just taken off.

Thomas Cook said on Monday that it is in talks with its creditors about a further £150m cash injection, on top of the £750m it is negotiating with Chinese shareholder Fosun.

Football pitch operator Goals Soccer Centres confirmed that actions by former chief executive Keith Rogers and chief financial officer Bill Gow formed part of its current investigations into the misstatement of its historic financial statements.

International events

Strategists at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch sounded a \'bullish\' note on stocks heading into September and for the longer-term.

The German government will break its self-imposed prohibition on so-called deficit spending if the economy falls into recession.

Consumer sentiment in the US deteriorated in August, hitting its lowest level since the start of the year, according to a preliminary reading from the University of Michigan.

A top European Central Bank official argued at the end of the week for the monetary authority to err on the side of caution and deliver a larger than expected does of monetary stimulus when policymakers next met.

The American consumer continued to splash out at a faster than expected clip over the summer. According to the Department of Commerce, US retail sales volumes grew at a 0.7% month-on-month pace in August to reach $532.35bn.

Manufacturing activity in the US mid-Atlantic region held up better than anticipated in August, according to the results of one of the most closely-followed surveys of activity in the sector.

Chinese officials labelled US plans to levy a 10.0% tariff on approximately $300.0bn-worth of the nation\'s exports a violation of the agreement reached between the two countries at the G20 leaders\' summit in Osaka, Japan, and indicated that Beijing would retaliate in kind.

The chief executive officer of Cathay Pacific, Rupert Hogg, has resigned a week after the company told its staff that it would not stop them from joining anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.

The US administration announced on Tuesday that it would delay the implementation of some of the additional trade tariffs that were set to go into effect at the start of September until mid-December.

The cost of living in the US rose more quickly than anticipated in July amid broad-based gains in prices for goods ranging from energy to shelter or medical care services.

Fund managers around the world grew increasingly more worried in August about the risk of a recession developing over the next 12 months, leading them to pile into fixed income despite worries that a bubble might be forming.

Italian deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini called for a snap election, pulling his League party out of a ten-month coalition with the 5-Star Movement party, amid allegations from his rivals that he was simply trying to capitalise on his improved poll ratings.

Economic news

Heathrow announced on Wednesday that the strikes scheduled for 23 and 24 August have been postponed.

UK retail sales unexpectedly rose in July, according to data released on Thursday by the Office for National Statistics. Retail sales ticked up 0.2% last month, down from a 0.9% increase in June but ahead of expectations for a 0.2% decline.

An Iranian oil tanker detained in Gibraltar has been released, although the US has filed a new legal bid to seize the ship, the territory\'s Chief Minister said on Thursday.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday that a trade deal between the US and the UK will not happen if the Good Friday accord is compromised.

European bank ING said on Tuesday that it expects the Brexit exit date to be pushed back yet again, putting the odds of an early general election being called in the UK at 40. 0%.

US national security advisor John Bolton told Prime Minister Boris Johnson that his government would support a no-deal Brexit.

Total earnings growth rose to 3.7% on the year in the three months to June, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics, up from 3.5% in May and in line with analysts\' expectations. This marked the best level since June 2008. Excluding bonuses, earnings growth rose to 3.9% from 3.6%, beating consensus expectations for growth of 3.8%.

The UK has spent £4b.0n stockpiling goods including food and medicine in preparation for a possible no-deal Brexit, latest research revealed on Monday.

Over 50 major UK retailers have demanded the government reform what they said was a broken business rates system that was deeply damaging the state of the British high street.

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